Food and Wine Annual 2015 recipe: Sarah Britton's Chai spice upside-down cake

Chai-spiced upside down plum cake
Chai-spiced upside down plum cake 

Chai spice upside-down plum cake

Serves 10

When I think "upside-down cake". I get a very clear mental picture of that ubiquitous pineapple-and-maraschino-cherry number that everybody made in the 1980s: tooth-achingly sweet and anything but wholesome. My experiments with this classic dish certainly worked out. As if the moist chai-spiced cake itself was not delicious enough, a warm, oozy plum-caramel glaze really puts this one over the top. Not too sweet, and perfect with afternoon tea. It is particularly delicious served with something creamy and slightly sour, such as plain yoghurt.

90ml coconut oil or ghee, melted
¼ cup coconut sugar
4 to 5 small plums, pitted and thinly sliced
2½ cups whole spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground star anise
½ tsp fine sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup maple syrup or raw honey
190ml milk of your choice (nut, seed, rice …)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

<i>My New Roots</i>, by Sarah Britton
My New Roots, by Sarah Britton Photo: Supplied

Preheat the oven to 180C. Coat the bottom of a 18cm springform cake tin with ½ tablespoon of the melted coconut oil, and sprinkle the coconut sugar evenly over it to cover the base. Neatly lay the plum slices in concentric rings on the bottom of the cake tin.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and the ginger, cardamom, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.

In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining six tablespoons of coconut oil. Add the maple syrup, milk, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk to remove any lumps. Add the vinegar and whisk quickly to incorporate.

Pour the batter into the cake tin, and put the tin on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any liquid that may seep out while baking). Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

When the cake has cooled, loosen the springform latch to open the tin. Invert a plate on top of the cake, and swiftly invert the two together so that the plums are now on the top. Serve.

Recipe from My New Roots, by Sarah Britton. Macmillan. $44.99.