Fresh Apricot Upside Down Cake
Fresh apricots are iffy; I'm always afraid to bite into one. So often they're mealy and I'm terribly disappointed! But I hate not taking advantage of them when I see them in the market, so now I invariably bake them in bars, tarts or cakes.
I've been saving this Gourmet recipe for a while and I loved the way it turned out. Not a single thing was needed on top...no ice cream, no whipped cream. Do you love that combination of sticky, gooey caramel on top of upside down cakes as much as I do?
One caveat: use a skillet or baking dish with at least 2 inch sides (higher, if you have one) AND place on a baking sheet covered with foil. Mine overflowed and made a mess in the oven and the smell of burning food permeated the house. What was I thinking? Once again, lesson learned: read directions thoroughly and then heed them!
Still, when I cut a slice....well worth the mess I had to clean up!
Fresh Apricot Upside-Down Cake
Gourmet | July 2003
For the topping:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
10 or 11 small (2- to 2 1/4-inch) fresh apricots (1 1/4 lb), halved lengthwise and pitted
For the cake:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
Special equipment: a 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet (at least 2 inches deep)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Heat butter in skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides. Reduce heat to low and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter, then cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes (not all of sugar will be melted).
A personal note here: you can leave the sugar mixture in the skillet and add the apricot halves as indicated or take a spatula and scrape the mixture into a lightly buttered baking dish with higher sides and add the apricots then.
Remove skillet from heat and arrange apricot halves, cut sides down, close together on top of brown sugar.
Make cake batter:
Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt into a small bowl. Beat the butter, sugar, and extracts in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 3 to 4 minutes with a handheld. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then beat until mixture is creamy and doubled in volume, 2 to 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and beat just until combined. Gently spoon batter over apricots and spread evenly.
Bake cake in middle of oven until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
Wearing oven mitts, immediately invert a large plate over skillet and, keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together, invert cake onto plate. Carefully lift skillet off cake and, if necessary, replace any fruit that is stuck to bottom of skillet. Cool to warm or room temperature.