July 21, 2009
Upside-down Sweet Cherry Cake
Summer is here in the Pacific Northwest and oh how glorious it is! I absolutely love this time of year and try to relish every last minute of it. As such, I find myself spending a lot more time outside and out of my kitchen and that mean a lot less baking. However, that doesn’t mean that the mood doesn’t strike me to bake, but it comes a lot less often which is why I haven’t been blogging lately.
I like to treat myself to a new cookbook when I’m on vacation and this year's section, as I as on my way to Cannon Beach, was this one: Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson. I bought this book totally on impulse as I waited to checkout. On a side note: I stopped in Portland specifically so that I could go to Powell’s bookstore. This store is AMAZING! You literally get a map when you walk in the door because the place is so big! It takes up an entire city block! It’s completely independent too and so that makes it extra fun giving them my business. I spent several hours in the store, most of which was in the cooking and baking section alone but I couldn’t have spent several more hours there. I am already longing to go back again but I digress!
I read this cookbook like a novel while I sitting on the beach along the Oregon Coast. The day after I arrived home I decided to make this specific recipe because it just looked so darn good and let me tell you, it’s fan-freaking-tastic! Maybe it's the amazing cherry season that we're having or that I was still on my post-vaca high, but let me tell you that this cookbook is one of the best that I’ve seen in a long time. Each recipe is well thought out and each written in a way that’s easily understood. The photos are beautiful too. When making this particular cake, I was out of a few things and had to substitute some of the ingredients and it still came out great. I loved it so much that I decided that I needed to give away a copy to one lucky reader* and, just because I think it’s would complete the experience, it will be shipped via Powell’s books too! One of my favorite things about this cookbook is the fact that each recipe includes the weight of the dry ingredients as well as the standard measurements. As anyone who has read my blog knows, I am a firm believer in the use of a kitchen scale. It makes measuring ingredients a breeze, creates a lot less mess because you don’t have to wash a bunch of measuring cups, and makes making recipes so much more consistent. It’s really the only way to go! I actually have a chart taped to the inside of my kitchen cabinet which lists the weight of all the ingredients that I use the more often to help speed up my preparation.Now as luck would have it, my new best friend William, of EatSmart Products sent me their new Eat Smart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale to evaluate. The timing could not have been better because my old kitchen scale was well past its prime and I was considering buying a new one. I was impressed with the scale the moment I received it. It’s very lightweight, compact, and very modern looking. When I took it out of the box, the first thing I couldn’t help but notice is that it has a big, bold display that is set away from the main weighing area. This makes it really easy to read the weight of whatever you might be weighing without having to worry if the bowl or plate that you’re placing on top of the scale is covering the scale’s read-out. It also measures in grams, ounces, kilograms, and pounds! And hold on to your hats folks, they actually ship this little gem WITH the batteries! But that is not the best part about this scale – nope, the best part is that I get to give away one to one of my very lucky readers*! Lucky you, huh?
* To enter for your chance to win either the scale or the cookbook, you must follow leave me a comment below (no email please), and provide a link to your blog or some means of reaching you. If you don’t provide a way for me to contact you, you can’t win! Contest is only open to those that live in the United States (my apologies to my foreign readers!) All entries must be received by Thursday, July 30th. A winner will be selected at random and announced on Friday, July 31st. All entries will automatically be entered to win both the scale or the cookbook. This is a picture of Cannon Beach at sunset which is where I spent the majority of my vacation.
Oh and a word of caution to everyone who makes this recipe: Try not to eat all the batter because it tastes REALLY YUMMY! Seriously I could have very easily sat on my couch and eaten the entire bowl with a spoon while watching Steel Magnolias.
Upside-down Sweet Cherry Cake
Yield: I cut it into really small squares and got about 12-15 servings but ideally it would serve about 10-12 people
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts
1 tablespoon of unsalted butter at room temperature for the pan.
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (don't use the concentrated junk!)
1/2 to 1 pound of pitted fresh sweet red cherries (organic if you can get them) (Note: I don't have a cherry pitter so I just sliced my cherries in half and the cake turned out just fine. Also, you may not need an entire pound of cherries. I think I used a little less than 1/2 a pound. As long as you have enough whole or halved cherries to cover the surface of the pan, you're golden.)
2 cups (9 ounces) cake flour or 1 3/4 (8 1/2 oz) cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon (1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice) or small orange (be sure to scrub the peel well before zesting)
2 eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (8 ounces) full fat sour cream
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch square metal baking dish (if all you have is round, that's okay too.) *Don't use a glass dish!*
To make the caramel topping, slowly melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it's all melted. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat up to medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. As it boils it will become foamy and change color from beige to amber brown. Once it just starts amber, pour the caramel into the prepared pan. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
Place the pitted cherries in a single layer on top of the caramel with the pitted sides facing up. Set aside.
Sift the cake flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
Cream the butter, sugar, and lemon/orange zest on medium-high for 4 minutes. It will be very light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mixing for a full minute until totally incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the lemon/orange juice and vanilla.
Mix in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour (so 1/3 flour, then 1/2 the sour cream, 1/3 flour, the rest of sour cream, and then whatever is left of the flour mixture). The batter will be very thick. Set the batter aside.
In a clean bowl, with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks appear. Fold half of the egg whiles into the batter, being sure to incorporate them completely before adding the other half. This means that you don't want to leave any huge blobs of egg white in the batter. It should be an even color throughout. (Not sure how to fold ingredients together? Check out this video from Epicurious to learn more!).
Carefully pour the batter into the pan and gently spread in an even layer over the cherries.
Bake for 60 to 65 minutes, or until the top of the cake is firm and the center springs back when lightly touched. Be sure to do use a toothpick to check for doneness too. The cake will be very brown and might crack slightly in the middle; this is normal.
Cool the cake on a wire rack for 45 minutes.
To flip the cake out of its pan, first run a knife around the edge, then place a flat plate or piece of tin foil face-down over the cake and quickly invert the cake onto the platter in one fell swoop. Cut into squares or wedges and enjoy! Keep covered and store at room temperature.