U is for Upside Down Cake

upsidedown2 (3a)

nectarine-red-plum-cornmeal-upside-down-cake photo by vsimon

There are not a lot of choices for food related words that start with the letter U. Utensil works, but upside down cake is more satisfying.

Today we stray from the classic pineapple and use stone fruits that are in season. Nectarine and Red Plum Cornmeal Upside Down Cake fits the bill.

Upside side down cake can be tricky. There is a moment of truth when you hope, hope, hope that the fruit will dislodge from the pan.

On my first try, every piece of fruit stuck in the pan. It was lovely, but it was in the pan, not on the cake. Frustrated, I peeled as much as I could off and replaced in on the cake. It looked rumpled instead of well groomed.

My husband suggested we make an upside up cake. That would sure be simpler. But I worried the fruit would shrivel and dry while the cake baked. I suggested parchment on the bottom of the pan. He suggested two pieces of parchment. Brilliant!

One piece stays in the pan, the other stays on top of the fruit, on top (what was the bottom) of the cake. It is easily peeled off and every bit of fruit stays neatly in its proper place.

This tip, my friend, is worth the price of admission. Which of course is free. Still, it is a lifesaver. You can use this technique with all kinds of upside down cake. Apple gingerbread, cherry almond, cranberry orange, pear walnut, whatever you like.

As a bonus, this cornmeal cake uses inexpensive ingredients, easily found in the regular grocery store.

Oh, and a bit of xanthan. You need to have that in your pantry anyway if you do any gluten free baking. It is not cheap to buy, but it is cheap to use. A little goes a long, long way.

This sunny cake has corn flour, not cornstarch. You can substitute masa harina with equal success. Cornmeal gives it a rustic feel and a bit of crunch. It is tender, but not crumbly. And not too sweet. You can increase the sugar if you prefer your treats quite sweet.

It also works as a gluten free, dairy free dessert. Apple juice works great and adds a bit more sweetness. Or use milk if you prefer it.

Nectarine and Red Plum Cornmeal Upside Down Cake

Make this cake while dinner cooks and enjoy it warm for dessert.

serves 12 metric measures
1-1/2 cups corn flour or masa harina     275 grams
1/2 cup cornmeal                              90 grams
2/3 cup sugar, divided use 150 grams
2 tsp baking powder 6 grams
1 tsp salt 6 grams
1/2 tsp xanthan 2 grams
2 eggs 100 grams
1-1/4 cups apple juice or milk 300 ml
1/2 cup oil 120 ml
2 firm nectarines 375 grams
1 firm red plum 50 grams
1 tablespoon of lemon juice 15 ml

Parchment paper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, blend corn flour, cornmeal, ½ cup of sugar (115 grams), baking powder, salt, and xanthan.

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, apple juice or milk, and oil.

Pour egg mixture into the flour mixture and whisk until all the lumps disappear. Set aside.

Put a 9” cake pan on a piece of parchment and trace a pencil around the bottom. Cut inside the line so the parchment just fits inside the bottom of the pan. Repeat so you have two pieces. Lay them both on the bottom of the pan.

In a medium bowl, slice the nectarines and plums. Drizzle with the lemon juice and the remaining sugar. Artfully arrange the fruit on top of the parchment. Or put it in a jumble if you like it really rustic.

Pour the batter over the fruit and level with a knife.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes.

Inserting a cake tester or thin knife into the cake is not a reliable way to see if this cake is done. Uncooked batter may not cling to them. The cake is done when it is a bit golden on the top and there are small cracks in the middle as well as around the edges.

I have given a pretty wide range of cooking times. Since we cook many homes, I know many ovens do not reach the temperature on the dial. Some are hotter, some are cooler. Check the cake at 45 minutes and let it go longer if needed. After you make this once or twice, you will have a better feel for how long it takes in your oven.

Allow the cake to stand for 5 to 10 minutes in the pan. Put a platter over the top of the pan and turn the whole assemblage  upside down. Never fear, it will come out intact!! With all the fruit in its place, on the cake. That is enough to make anyone smile. 🙂

Simply peel off the parchment paper and serve.

What is your families favorite kind of upside down cake?

11/24/2009 Would you take an upside down cake to a party? I think this one would be a beautiful holiday addition with cranberries in the center. So I submitted it to The Gluten Free Homemaker’s weekly event called, “What Can I Eat that is Gluten Free?”   This week’s theme is, you guessed it, party food. There are sure to be many tasty dishes you’ll like.