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CHEF'S CORNER

 
Upside Down Cakes
By: Deirdre Cooper

 

 

Here come the holidays - again! That special time of the year when the sweet tooth can be indulged and our favorite American desserts are front and center: the ever-popular Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie and Pecan Pie. One other typically American cake that comes to mind, which we probably have all had at one time or another, is a lovely Upside Down Cake. The most recognizable, of course, is Pineapple. That's the one pictured in all the old cookbooks with pineapple rings, pecans and a maraschino cherry at the center of each ring. It is pretty and delicious and a wonderful addition to the dessert tray.
 
Upside down cakes originated in North America and were baked in cast iron frying pans, which is my pan of choice. If you don't have a cast iron pan, use a 10" saute pan with at least 2" high straight sides and a handle that can withstand a 350 degree oven.
 
Recently, I have been experimenting with the upside down concept and have come up with a few new ideas for the traditional Upside Down cake. You need the right pan, but the cake batter is the same for all - it is just the bottom (or the top, depending on your perspective) which changes. Also, I have yet to try one which doesn't freeze well (with the exception of banana), so you can have a summer- fruit topped cake in the middle of winter. Great if served warm with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.
 


 

Here is the recipe for the cake batter:
 
4 eggs, room temperature, separated
1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
One cup sifted cake flour
One cup granulated sugar
 
Keep ready for your topping:
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup butter
 
Preheat oven to 325f. Sift flour with baking powder and salt. At high speed, beat egg whites just until soft peaks form. Add granulated sugar gradually; beat well after each addition, until stiff peaks form. In small bowl of electric mixer, at high speed, beat egg yolks until very thick and yellow.
 
Using an under/over motion, gently fold egg yolks and flour mixture into the whites until well combined. Fold in the one tablespoon of melted butter and the vanilla extract. At this point, your batter is waiting to top your fruit mixture.
 
Plum Upside Down Cake or Peach Upside Down Cake
 
4 or 5 or 6 ripe plums, cut in chunks or 5 or 6 peaches, peeled and sliced
 
In your heavy 10 in skillet with heat-resistant handle, melt 1/2 cup butter over low heat, careful not to let butter start to brown. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle brown sugar over butter until combined. Place the cut up plums over butter/sugar mixture, the more the better. For peaches, arrange slices in concentric circles until butter mixture is completely covered. Spread batter evenly over fruit and bake 30 to 35 minutes until surface of cake springs back when gently pressed with finger. Loosen edge of cake, let stand about 5 minutes and invert on to serving plate.
 


 

Banana Walnut Upside Down Cake
 
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 large ripe bananas, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch slices
 
Combine the sugar and butter in the heavy pan and melted over low heat until well blended. Pour maple syrup over sugar mixture and sprinkle nuts evenly over mixture. Place banana slices in concentric circles over nuts and overlapping slightly. Proceed as above with cake batter and bake according to directions. Delicious.
 
Blackberry-Apple Upside Down Cake
 
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large apples, Gala or Granny Smith, peeled and sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen blackberries
 
Melt 1/4 cup butter in your heavy pan over low heat. Remove from heat and sprinkle with brown sugar, drizzle honey over sugar. Arrange apple slices as you like and sprinkle blackberries over all. Proceed as above pouring cake batter over all and bake according to directions.
 
And for the sake of tradition, here is the tried and true recipe for
 
Pineapple Upside Down Cake
 
1 can pineapple slices, drained
approx 10 maraschino cherries, drained and halved
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup butter
 
In 10 inch heavy skillet with heat resistant handle, melt the butter over very low heat. Remove pan from heat and sprinkle brown sugar over butter until combined. Arrange pineapple slices over bottom of skillet and distribute pecans and cherries around pineapple. Top with cake batter and bake as above.
 

Deirdre is a culinary enthusiast who enjoys traveling, gardening, and needless to say works wonders in the kitchen. Deirdre, a native New Yorker, now resides in Ambler with her husband John, and can often be found entertaining family and friends. Enjoy!
 
 
 
 

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2019 South 26th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145 · Phone: 215.468.0518 · Fax: 215.468.0818 · E-mail:
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