My only advice is to make the caramel if possible in a pan that is not non stick so that you can see what is happening to the sugar mixture. Do not go away and answer the telephone. Stay with it, it changes rapidly and you do not want it too dark otherwise it will taste burnt.
This cake is made using the all in one method so do make sure your butter is nice and soft. Take it out of the fridge several hours before making or microwave briefly to soften but do not melt.
For the caramel:
- 175g. / 6ozs. & 2 tbsps. granulated sugar
- 6 tbsps. water
- 4 large red plums, halved or other fruit (see below)
For the cake:
- 150g. / 5ozs. plain flour
- 2 tsps. baking powder
- 175g. / 6ozs. butter, softened
- 175g. / 6ozs. caster sugar
- 4 tbsps. ground almonds
- 4 eggs, beaten (large)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Heat the oven to 150C / Gas Mark 2. Butter a 24cm. / 9 inch springform tin and line the base.
- Place the sugar and water in a heavy based pan over a low heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar. Do not let the liquid boil until the sugar has completely dissolved to form a clear syrup. Now raise the heat to medium and bring the syrup to the boil. Boil rapidly until the syrup starts to turn brown around the edge of the pan. Lower the heat and cook the sugar to a dark golden brown. Do not stir just swirl. When ready pour into the buttered tin. Arrange the plums skin side up over the caramel.
- Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add butter, sugar, almonds, eggs and vanilla. Beat until smooth and evenly blended, 1 – 2 minutes. Spread cake mixture over the fruit and bake until the top is golden brown and the sides of the cake have pulled away from the tin, about 50 minutes.
- Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for a few minutes, then run a knife round the edges of the cake and turn out onto a serving dish. If any pieces of fruit stick to the paper, use a spatula to remove and press them back into place. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dusting of icing sugar and a dollop of fromage frais.
APRICOT CARAMEL CAKE – replace the plums with apricots. Buy 500g. / 1lb.
APPLE OR PEAR CARAMEL – Replace the plums with 3 apples or pears, quartered and sliced.
PEACH OR NECTARINE CAKE – Replace the plums with 3 peaches or nectarines, quartered and sliced.
STRAWBERRY CARAMEL CAKE – This looks a bit like a car crash but tastes delicious. Replace the plums with 1kg. / 2lb. ripe strawberries. Do not bother to arrange nicely, spread in an even layer.
MANGO CARAMEL CAKE – Replace the plums with 3 medium sliced mangoes or 1 tin of drained sliced mangoes.