Stonefruit and Almond Upside-Down Cake

September 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 7 Comments
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stonefruit upside-down cake

Fall is in the air and I couldn’t be more excited!  I like summer in theory (long days, trips to the beach, bottles of chilled rosé), but in practice, we don’t have A/C, so I just feel uncomfortable and lazy most of the time.  Not to mention sweaty.  I will miss the summer fruit for sure, but luckily I can still get peaches and plums for another couple of weeks.  Even though I have avoided turning on the oven for most of the past two months, now is a great time to get baking.

I’m quite fond of upside-down cakes, and don’t mind experimenting with them.  Fruit cooked in caramel goo…ain’t nothing wrong with that.  And they’re pretty, too.  We know an upside-down cake is really all about the caramelized fruit, but the cakey part shouldn’t be neglected either (trust me).  This cake has the right balance of sturdiness and softness.  Almond meal and a bit of barley flour help with that texture, and also give it some real flavor (as in we’re not just relying on the fruit).  It’s equally delicious made with peaches, nectarines or plums.  I’ve had it all three ways…maybe next summer I’ll do a combo?  Unless we have company, it takes the two of us four nights to go through an 8-inch cake, and I didn’t feel like this one suffered at all.  (I stored the cakes wrapped in the fridge and brought slices to room temperature as we wanted them).

Don’t you just love how plum skins look like jewels when cooked down?

stonefruit upside-down cake

Stonefruit and Almond Upside-Down Cake– makes an 8-inch cake

Steph’s Notes:  If you don’t have pre-ground almond meal, grind an equal amount of whole almonds, along with 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour, in the food processor until fine.  You can replace the barley flour with an equal amount of all-purpose flour, if you wish.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease pan
1 cup sugar
3-4 medium peaches, plums or nectarines, pitted and cut into 6 wedges each
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup barley flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

-Preheat the oven to 350° F and lightly butter an 8-inch round cake pan (preferably not a springform one).

-To make the topping, put 1/2 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium skillet over medium heat. It should look like wet sand. Wash down any sugar crystals on the sides of the skillet with a wet pastry brush.  Cook the sugar until it becomes a deep golden brown caramel. This will happen quickly, so don’t walk away. Add 1 tablespoon butter and whisk it in until smooth. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble a bit when the butter goes in.

-Pour the caramel into the bottom of the prepared cake pan and tilt to coat. Arrange the fruit wedges snugly in the bottom of the pan in a single layer, cutting to fit if needed.  It doesn’t matter if the caramel sets up while you are doing this.

-Combine the flours, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.

-Beat the remaining 5 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup sugar (a scant 1/2 cup if you like it less sweet, like I do) in a large bowl with a mixer (or in a stand mixer with the paddle) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated.

-Spread the batter evenly over the fruit and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

-Transfer to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert onto a plate and let cool completely before serving.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

May 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments
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fresh rhubarb upside-down cake

Ummm…hello?  It’s been radio silent here on this blog for almost a month.  How embarrassing, but I just haven’t been baking much lately.  We went to the beach (and didn’t want to come back).  Then when we did come back, I was given what I can only assume was a punishment schedule at work for having taken vacation time.  But, now I’m back in the game, and with rhubarb no less!

I tried really hard to find local rhubarb to make Johanne Killeen’s Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake.  I feel like it should be around these parts by now, but after striking out at three different farmers’ markets, I stopped wasting my time (and MetroCard swipes) and just got a few stalks from the grocery.

This recipe is intended to make several little baby cakes, but I just baked it off as one big mama in a cast iron skillet.  It wasn’t super goopy so it wasn’t too scary to flip out of the skillet.  Dark brown sugar gives this upside-down topping real character, and crème fraiche makes the cake batter extra tender.  I threw a splash of vanilla into the batter, too, which maybe wasn’t totally necessary since it wasn’t called for in the recipe…and since I had vanilla ice cream with it anyway…but whatevs.

I can see this also being a tasty base recipe for stone fruit or even mango upside-down cake.  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Erin’s When in Doubt…Leave it at 350.  It’s also here.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake

September 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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nectarine upside-down chiffon cake

It’s Fridays with Dorie for me this week with  Mary Bergin’s fabulous Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake.  I made, and ate, this cake a couple of weekends ago.  Then I was so excited to go Montreal for Labor Day weekend, I didn’t post.  We came home and I still didn’t post, because I’ve been too busy looking at Montreal real estate websites and daydreaming about living there!!

This recipe is in a section in the book called “Everyday Delights” but I think it’s pretty fancy.  It’s not just a standard-issue tinned fruit upside-down cake.  Underneath the glistening fresh nectarines is a light chiffon cake bisected by a layer of crispy almond streusel. It’s a bit of work to pull off, but I thought it was worth every bite.  And really, the streusel could be skipped to save a step…it would be just as good, I think.

I had good success with this chiffon.  I was a little worried when I saw the batter almost totally filled my springform, and it did mushroom up in the oven.  But nothing overflowed, thank goodness.  If you are worried, I’d suggest taking out a couple scoops and making them into cupcakes or something.  It was kinda hard to tell if the cake was done, and I think I left it in the oven a few extra miinutes.  When making chiffons, the cake pans are often ungreased so the batter can really climb up the sides.  I’ve learned to (gingerly!) run a thin knife around the edges of the pans about five to ten minutes after the cakes have come out of the oven.  This helps the cakes to not tear away from the sides as they start to cool, which I think can cause them to sink a bit.

nectarine upside-down chiffon cake

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Marlise’s The Double Trouble Kitchen and Susan’s The Little French Bakery.  There’s also a video of Julia and Mary baking this together.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake

November 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 9 Comments
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upside-down pear chocolate cake

When did weekends become all about errands and housekeeping?  This weekend, in addition to the usual vacuuming, laundry and trips to the market and bank, I did some grout touch-ups to the bathroom (how do I even know how to do that??), removed and cleaned up the couple of A/C units we still had dangling out the windows and did a rather ghetto weatherproofing job to the hatch that leads from our backyard into the basement (it involved a blue tarp and some bricks).  Carving out a little baking time on the weekends is a must.  For me, even though there are always dishes to wash afterward, it’s pure fun.

While I’ve never been one for most fruit and chocolate combos, I can do pears and chocolate together…Poire Belle Hélène is good stuff, afterall.  While I was flipping through the very sweet little book Rustic Fruit Desserts, this recipe for Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake caught my eye as a good and unusual way to use up the last of my CSA pears.  Making an upside-down cake is always exciting.  There’s the big revel– what’s going to happen when you turn it out of the pan??  Here’s what I got with this one: a perfectly moist and caramel-soaked chocolate cake with pears that turned a translucent, shimmering gold.  I must say though, that just from tasting the raw cake batter, I knew we were in for a treat.  I love the way the pears glisten in the light…this one might show up again for Christmas dinner.

upside-down pear chocolate cake

Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake- makes a 9-inch cake
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

Steph’s Note:  Regarding the caramel for the fruit topping– if you have another method of making caramel that you prefer (a dry caramel, for example), feel free to use it here, keeping the amount of sugar the same.  This one worked perfectly for me, but do what you are comfortable with.

for the fruit topping:
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (4 oz) water
3 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and each cut into  12 slices (1 pound prepped)

for the cake:
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa  powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

-Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter a 9-inch round cake pan (preferably not a springform one).

-To make the fruit topping, put the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan (one with a tight-fitting lid) and stir until the sugar  dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then cover and cook for  2 minutes. (Covering in this way allows the steam to wash down the sides of pan,  which will prevent any sugar crystals from forming.) Uncover the saucepan and  continue to boil the sugar, gently and slowly swirling the pan as needed to cook  the caramel evenly, until it becomes a dark amber color. Occasionally wash down  the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, if necessary. Carefully pour  the caramel into the prepared pan and allow it to harden. The pan will be very  hot from the sugar, so take care in moving it if you need to. Fan the pear  slices on top of the caramel in a circle around the perimeter, filling in the  center with the remaining slices.

-To make the cake, place  the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and melt, stirring  occasionally. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.  Transfer the melted chocolate to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and  add the sugar. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the  paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and  fluffy. Add the eggs one at time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each  addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions  alternating with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour  and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

-Tip the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to move it to the edges and cover the fruit. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until  the cake bounces back slightly when touched. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife or small offset around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a plate, leaving the pan on top of the cake for 5 minutes before you remove it.  If any pear slices stick to the pan, just lift them out and place them on top of the cake.  Serve the cake warm or room temperature.

-Wrapped in plastic wrap, this cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

TWD Rewind: Cranberry Upside-Downer

November 23, 2010 at 12:01 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments

cranberry upside-downer

This week the TWD crowd will be going in about 200 different directions (and I’m not just talking about holiday travel plans)– we’re having a “rewind” day to make up a missed recipe or remake a favorite.  I’ve been in the group for a long time, and I think I can count on one hand the number of recipes I’ve skipped.  At some point, I’d like to tick at least a few of those of the list, but not this week…this week, I’m revisiting a recipe I’ve been itching to try again.

Back in September I made a Summery Peach Upside-Downer, and I’m been thinking about trying the original Cranberry Upside-Downer version ever since.  Now’s the time, especially since I’m on a cranberry roll this month!  The cake was just as soft and cinnamony as I remembered from the first time.  I think I actually prefer this version, though, because the tart cranberries are a perfect balance for the sticky sweetness of the butter-sugar topping.  If my husband weren’t insisting on pie for Thanksgiving, I would certainly not hesitate to put this on the table on Thursday night!

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, or read Superfluous, as it was Sabrina’s choice a couple months ago.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll to see what everyone chose to make this week!  Happy US Thanksgiving!!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Summery Peach Upside-Downer

September 14, 2010 at 12:06 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 30 Comments

summery peach upside-downer

Sabrina of Superfluous chose Cranberry Upside-Downer For TWD this week.  This cranberry cake sounds sooo good, but it will have to wait for cooler weather (and cranberry season).  In the meantime, I made Dorie’s summertime version with peaches and raspberries for Labor Day weekend.  I don’t know about you, but I think it looks like sunshine! 

The topping isn’t caramelized like it is in a pineapple upside-down cake, but it infuses the fruit with buttery sweetness, all the same.  And the cake is soft and full of cinnamon.  I made a half recipe, and it was all R & I could do not to eat it all in one go!  The cranberry version is definitely making my fall baking list.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, or read Superfluous.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

The Cake Slice: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

March 20, 2010 at 1:01 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, the cake slice | 15 Comments

pineapple upside-down cake

The Cake Slice Bakers are flipping out some Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes this month.  Sounds good, right?  Looks good, too, I think.  The taste…ehh.  I used fresh pineapple and dried cherries in my topping, and boy was that yummy, all baked up in buttery brown sugar.  But the cakey bit seemed heavy and doughy.  It was a relatively lean cake, with only four tablespoons of butter and just one egg…maybe that had something to do with it.  I dunno, but I think I’ll stick with this recipe, which I remember liking quite a bit.

If you do want to give it a shot, here’s a printable link to this month’s recipe.  Or get your hands on a copy of Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott.  To see if anyone else had setter success with this recipe, cruise through the list of The Cake Slice Bakers!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Dimply Peach Cake

September 23, 2008 at 5:49 am | Posted in breakfast things, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 49 Comments

dimply peach cake

Michelle of Bake-En selected Dorie’s Dimply Plum Cake for this week’s TWD.  I’ve read about this little breakfast cake all over the place, so I was really looking forward to trying it.  Unfortunately, stone fruits are not in season just yet here in Australia.  I had to take what I could get on this one, and what I could get were a couple of rock-hard peaches.  I stuck ‘em in a paper bag and crossed my fingers that they’d ripen after a few days.

Well, they didn’t really ripen at all, and frankly I was surprised that I could even get the pits out, but I charged ahead with my out of season fruit anyway.  I went with one of Dorie’s “playing around” suggestions and added a few shredded basil leaves instead of citrus zest to the cake batter.  I kept in the cardamom, which is a spice I love, and added a pinch of cinnamon, too.  To try and help the crunchy peaches along a bit, I sprinkled each exposed half with sugar just before putting the cake in the oven, and then a couple more times during the baking process as well.

 dimply peach cake

Such a cute cake– I loved the fruity dimples, and the peach halves looked almost like hearts!  What I’ve hidden from you in these photos, though, is a little patch of raw batter left under each peach half.  Drat– I couldn’t get that part to cook through for the life of me!  In a flash of genius while taking these photos, I thought that if I flipped the individual slices upside-down on a baking sheet and stuck them under the broiler for a minute, I cook get the raw bits to firm up.  And it worked!  (That technique might get a little messy with a whole large cake.)  There was no time to take extra pics, however, as the coffee was good to go, and R was grumbling that breakfast was already taking too long.  

I made half a recipe and baked it in a standard-sized loaf pan.  Leftovers weren’t a problem, as R and I polished off the whole thing in one sitting!  The peaches did sweeten and soften nicely in the oven (I do think the sugar sprinklings helped), and I loved the warm, spicy cardamom flavor.  Although R was initially suspicious, the basil was a really nice touch, too…I should bake with herbs more often.

dimply peach cake

For the recipe, look in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (she also has it on Serious Eats) or read Bake-En.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll to see what over 250 other people had to say!

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