Monday, July 5, 2010

Cherry Upside Down Cake

It was the first week for cherries at the farmer's market. I took a walk through the market once to see what was available, and when I got back to the cherries, they only had seconds left.

But the price was right.

The seconds looked pretty good, with just a few blemishes and some oddly-shaped fruits. Even though they looked fine, I decided that it would be smart to use the cherries right away, before the blemishes and bumps turned into something less edible.

I went to work with my pitter and got them all ready, and ended up with a little over a quart of pitted cherries. 

I used most of those pitted cherries for the cake. The few leftovers that didn't fit in the pan, um...disappeared. Somewhere. Yeah, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The cherries were mostly bing with a few Raniers. I thought they added some nice color contrast. They turned almost orange, compared the deep red of the bing cherries.

This recipe has a lot of steps, and it looks a bit complicated on first glance, but it's actually pretty simple if you take it one step at a time.

The caramel at the top is sweet, but it's tempered by the lemon juice in it, so it's not cloyingly sweet. Of course the cherries are both sweet and tart, and the cake is the perfect complement.

Since I live at high altitude, I was a little worried that the cake would overrun the pan. I reduced the baking powder and baking soda by a little bit to compensate, and had no trouble at all. And it came out of the pan without a hint of trouble.

And what was the recipe? Why, it was...

Upside-Down Sweet Cherry Cake
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

For the Caramel:
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 cups pitted cherries

For the Cake:
1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
zest and juice from 1 orange
2 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and butter a 9-inch square baking pan (I used baking spray rather than butter.)

For the caramel:

Melt the butter for the caramel in a pan over medium heat, then stir in the sugar and lemon juice using a wooden spoon. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. First it will become foamy, and then it will change color to amber brown. Take it off the heat and pour it into the pan. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool, while you're working on the cake.

After the 10 minutes is up, arrange the cherries in a single layer on top of the caramel, trying to keep the prettiest side at the bottom.

For the cake:
Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt together.

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and orange zest until it is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each.

Stir in the vanilla and orange juice. Add the flour mixture a third at a time, alternating with two additions of the sour cream. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Add the whites to the batter in two additions, folding gently and incorporating the first addition before adding the second.

Pour the batter over the cherries in the pan and smooth it into an even layer.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65 minutes, or until the top of the cake is firm and the center springs back when touched. The top will be very brown and might crack, but that doesn't matter since it will become the bottom of the cake.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for 45 minutes before unmolding. Run a knife around the outside of the cake to loosen it, then place a serving plate over it and flip it over to unmold it.


kayenne said...

the recipe you posted has the amount for the reduced leaveners or are they the original measurements?

Donna Currie said...

These are the original amounts. When I made it, I just measured a little light rather than using level measures.

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