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Overhead view of a Polenta Plum Upside Down Cake on a marble cake stand on a marble surface.

Polenta Plum Upside Down Cake

  • Author: Sabrina Russo
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 10 servings 1x


Polenta Plum Upside Down Cake is a scrumptious, Italian-inspired cake great for both dessert and breakfast.




  • 34 plums (500g), sliced in ½ inch wedges
  • 1/3 cup (70g) light or dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (43g) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature


  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (130g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (80g) finely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt or 1/2 tsp fine salt
  • 1 cup (207g) granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (115g) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1g) finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)
  • 3 ounces (75ml) extra virgin olive oil


  1. Heat oven: Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Add toppings to pan: Grease a 9-inch springform pan or other 9 inch pan with high sides with 3 tablespoons of butter. Place a thin layer on the sides and a thick coating on the bottom. Place pan on a silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle over brown sugar in an even layer. Arrange plum slices in concentric circles starting from the inside and working your way out. They should be slightly overlapping.
  3. Sift dry ingredients: In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Whisk to evenly Combine
  4. Mix wet ingredients: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a bowl with hand beaters, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl. Stir in vanilla and orange zest. Gradually stream in oil while mixing on low speed until emulsified.
  5. Mix wet and dry: Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in 3 additions, stirring gently to combine. Do not over mix.
  6. Bake and serve: Pour batter in pan over plums. Smooth out top. Tap on counter a few times to knock out any large air bubbles. Bake on center rack of the oven for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake should not jiggle.
  7. Cool: Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a butter knife or thin offset spatula along the sides of the pan, and carefully remove outer ring. Invert onto a parchment-lined wire rack. Remove the base of pan. Cool completely before serving. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. Enjoy.


I prefer red or black plums for the color, but you can use any plums available to you, as long as they’re not too ripe. Firm and juicy plums are the best choice for cutting into wedges so that they hold their shape while baking. If your plums are ripe, try cutting them in half instead. Remove the stem and pit, and place them in the pan cut side down.

Fruity olive oil works best. Avoid anything spicy or bitter. If you don’t want a strong olive flavor, opt for a light olive oil or a neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable.

Store for 3-5 days in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. Wrap individual cake slices in plastic before freezing. To defrost, place a piece in the fridge overnight.

The cornmeal cake is adapted from David Lebovitz.

The plum topping is adapted from Food 52.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian, American


  • Serving Size: 1/10 of cake
  • Calories: 415
  • Sugar: 32g
  • Sodium: 270mg
  • Fat: 23g
  • Saturated Fat: 10g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 13g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 49g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 108mg

Keywords: polenta plum upside down cake, plum upside down cake, polenta plum cake, plum and cornmeal cake