Friday, July 18, 2008

Upsidedown Cake

This has got to be one of the best desserts: it's easy and beautiful and takes full advantage of what ever fruit you have in season, just at that moment. Last night I made a version with fresh local blueberries and apricots. It was great with a little whipped cream after dinner and equally good in the morning with coffee. After years of experimenting with a dozen different recipes for this classic dessert, the winner was the recipe Alice Waters offers in several of her cookbooks (Chez Panise and The Art of Simple Food). What Alice does that none of the other recipes did is to separate the eggs and whip the whites before incorporating - makes a world of difference in the texture of the cake. (If you don't own an Alice Waters cookbook, you should. They are amazing and she is a genius.) I've made a few minor changes to the original recipe.

Fruit Upside-Down Cake

Makes one 8-inch round or square cake This cake is very versatile and can be made with apples, pears, peaches, plums, or any full-flavored, slightly acidic fruit. Arrange the sliced fruit as you would for a Tarte Tatin. In this instance I think the seasonal combo of apricots and blueberries can't be beat (well maybe sour cherries...) Preheat the oven to 350 F. Measure into an 8"cast-iron skillet or heavy-duty cake pan:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

¾ cup demerara or brown sugar

4 tablespoons apricot juice

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts and starts to bubble. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

1 pint blueberries, rinsed and picked over

12 apricots, pitted and halved
(mine were small if bigger you can get away with less)
Arrange the apricots onto the brown sugar and butter mixture, cut sides facing up. Sprinkle the blueberries on top of the apricots.
2 eggs, at room temperature
½ cup whole milk, at room temperature
Measure and stir together:
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

In another bowl or in a stand mixer, beat to lighten:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar Cream until light and fluffy. Beat in the 2 yolks, one at a time. Stir in:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
When well mixed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, starting and ending with one third of the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated. Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold one third of the egg whites into the batter and then gently fold in the rest. Pour the batter over the cranberries in the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a serving plate.

1 comment:

Natan said...

Made this on Thursday with apples, cinnamon and clove in the flour mix and lime juice instead of apricot juice, it came out really well even though I wasn't able to beat the egg whites all the way. One of my roommates ate a third of it while I was in the shower.

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