I love upside down cakes. Pineapple is the traditional cake, but any basic recipe can be a terrific vehicle for lots of other fruits... pears, peaches, apples, mangoes, oranges, cherries and, in today's recipe, apricots.
There are many traditional "upside-down" desert preparations and most are based on caramel bottoms that become the tops. The French tart tatin has long been a favorite of mine. Since moving to the Southwest, I have come to love flan, the Mexican version of crème caramel. In Brazil, they have a cake called bolo de banana which I have actually seen made in a microwave. I have yet to eat a bolo de banana but feel my day is coming for that adventure.
This cake today was inspired by a purchase of 12 lovely apricots at the grocery store. I could smell them as I passed them and thought, "Wow, they are ripe!" But, when I got them home and bit into one, it was quite sour and not what I craved.
What to do??? Apricot jam was a distinct possibility for sweetening these perfect-looking orbs. But I felt like making something a little more challenging. Thinking of a mango upside-down cake that I had once made, I thought that these apricots would be perfect nestled in the dark, oozy caramel of that cake, their tartness offsetting the sweetness - perfect balance. The decision was made.
Another thing I like about these cakes is how simple they are and how that, while comfort food, they are beautiful in their presentation. And, if I behave and take only a 1/12th slice of the cake, I am in the 200-250 calorie range, still managing to stay within the realm of my diet goals. (I gave the rest of the cake away to save me from myself...)
Readers, if any of you know of other unique and interesting upside-down cakes or desserts, I would love to have the recipes if you are willing to share.
9 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup dark brown sugar, divided
10 ripe apricots, halved and pitted
1 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
In a small saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over low heat. Remove from heat and add 1/3 up brown sugar, stirring to combine. Spread mixture over the bottom of the cake pan. Arrange apricot halves close together, cut side down, in concentric circles on top of sugar.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, using a stand mixer, beat 6 tablespoons butter on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Add the granulated sugar and remaining brown sugar, and continue to beat until fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time.)
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, until fluffy again. Add vanilla and beat to blend. With mixer on low speed, alternately add milk and dry ingredients in two additions, combining thoroughly until smooth after each addition. (Scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time.) Spread batter evenly over the apricots.
Bake cake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean – about 45-50 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Using a thin knife or spatula, release cake from the sides of the pan. Them using oven mitts, place a platter on top of the cake and then, together, flip the two over. Let settle a couple minutes before removing the pan, then gently lift off.