Plum, Fennel and Cardamom Upside Down Cake

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Plum, Fennel & Cardamom Upside Down Cake

Summer is my absolute favorite season, when I devour all the possible fruits that I can get my hands on.  


Stone fruits play a big role  in my kitchen. Peaches, nectarines, apricots, pluots, plums, cherries — all are part of the stone fruit family. There are two varieties – in this family — freestone, whose pits come out freely when the fruit is cut in half, and clingstone, whose pits cling to the flesh of the fruit. 

plum, fennel and cardamom upside down cake


Right now, different varieties of plums are popping up at the local farmer’s markets and the grocery stores: Japanese plums, Damsons, Greengages, Cherry plums, prune plums, Santa Rosas and the Mirabelles. They vary in color of the skin, and it is always a surprise as to what color they  will be on the inside.

My favorites are the Santa Rosa and the Greengage varieties – both have  flesh that tastes like candy. My personal preference is eating them when they are firm and crisp; I love that juicy crunch.


For this absolutely wonderful Plum, Fennel & Cardamom Upside-Down Cake, I use Santa Rosa plums, which have a purple, reddish skin and  yellow-orange flesh. The plums, when bought, should be firm to the touch. You can leave them out to ripen, over three to four days, or for faster ripening, put them in a brown bag, and they will ripe faster. 


This tea cake has notes of toasted fennel and ground cardamom in it. Fennel seeds are the fruits of the fennel plant, which is a flowering plant. Fennel bulbs are used in cooking savory dishes and salads, while the fennel seeds are aromatic, and impart licorice-like sweet flavor and scent.

Growing up in Mumbai, fennel seeds were a huge part of our dishes, be they sweet or savory. Fennel seeds are used widely as a digestive and mouth freshener in India, often eaten after a meal.Fennel drinks are popular during the brutal Indian summers – providing instant relief.

plum, fennel and cardamom upside down cake


The ingredients of this tea cake are:

  • Unsalted butter: Butter should be unsalted so that the amount of salt going into the cake can be controlled. Also it is not necessary to be at room temperature since the butter will be browned. 
  • Sugar: I use granulated sugar, since it dissolves easily with the butter.
  • Greek Yogurt: Makes the cake soft and moist
  • Eggs: help to bind the cake together and provide the added moisture.
  • Neutral oil: I add vegetable oil but any neutral oil like grapeseed oil or canola oil is ok as well. 
  • Vanilla extract: I always add extra extract for the added vanilla flavor which I love.
  • Orange zest: Plums along with the zing from orange zest is just amazing!
  • All purpose flour
  • Almond flour: I have been adding almond flour to baked goods for years now and its just the way I love every cake. It adds another dimension of flavor that is beautiful.
  • Baking powder: is the leavening agent here for the cake to be light, airy, and cakelike.
  • Toasted fennel seeds: It is important to lightly toast the fennel seeds to bring out the best flavor in them. Once cooled, they are coarsely ground to provide the texture and flavor to the cake.
  • Cardamom: Plums and cardamom is a match made in heaven and it is required! There are no 2 ways about this!

plum, fennel and cardamom upside down cake

Toasty notes of brown butter give this simple one-bowl cake a caramel-y flavor. To ensure the plum slices are fanned properly at the bottom of the cake pan, make sure they are evenly thin. And when placing them in the pan, overlap them slightly, so as not to leave any gap at the bottom for the cake batter to seep through. This will result in a pretty pattern on the top, when you turn the cake down side up. 

The cake is baked in a 9 inch pan, which can be found here, on Amazon.

plum, fennel and cardamom upside down cake

The cake bakes quickly as well. You have to wait for it to completely cool, before indulging in an ever-so-slightly warm slice with cold whipped cream and afternoon tea — my favorite way to enjoy this cake.

The other plum recipes on my blog are:

Plum and Fennel Fizzy Lemonade : which is so addictive and delicious!

Italian Shortbread Tart with Plum and Sage Jam

If you do make this recipe, please do not forget to tag #thejamlab on Instagram and/or leave a comment on this blog post.


Thank you!



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