Here I sit on a blustery December day in Southern California enjoying a hot cup of my favorite Darjeeling tea and a slice of this spice cake. Sweet Juliet is curled up at my feet enjoying a quiet nap. Mmmm. Life is good. I think […]
According to Chinese mythology, Goddess Xi Wang Mu grew immortality fruits in her garden. Most sources say they were peaches. Some say they were cherries. (Both are stone fruits.) Whatever immortality fruit it was, there was one very big problem. The fruits ripened every thousand years. It was one of those Catch-22 situations. You pretty much had to be immortal to live long enough to consume immortality fruit. (Or, you had to have very very good timing.)
While the cherries now being sold at your local farmers market may not make you live forever, their consumption can improve your health in other important ways. For example, cherries are rich in flavonoids, an antioxidant believed to soothe arthritis and muscle pain. In fact, they rank fourteenth among the top fifty antioxidant-rich foods, ahead of dark chocolate, orange juice, prunes and red wine. Cherries also contain the antioxidant melatonin, a natural hormone thought to regulate the sleep cycle. Did I mention that they are fat free?
Ninety-four percent of the cherries consumed in the U.S. are grown here, with the bulk of the fresh sweet cherries now in the markets originating in the Pacific Northwest. So, for those of us here on the west coast, we’re eating local when we consume cherries.
Today is my good friend Sarah’s birthday. I made this cake for her. I’m counting on her being immortal. Genuine friends are, after all, very hard to come by.
A link to the original recipe appears at the end of this post.
Recipe: Cherry Upside-Down Cake
1/4 C. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 C. packed golden brown sugar
14 Oz. cherries (pitted and sliced in half)
1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 C. sugar
1/2 C. (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 Large eggs (separated)
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 C. whole milk
1/4 t. cream of tartar
1 C. chilled whipping cream
1 1/2 T. powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare a 9-inch cake pan by buttering bottom and sides of pan. Put cake pan on low heat on your stove and melt 1/4 C. butter in pan. Add the brown sugar and whisk over low heat until butter and sugar are fully incorporated. This will take about two minutes. Remove pan from heat and, using a spatula or your fingers, spread the sugar/butter mixture over the bottom of the pan. Arrange pitted and halved cherries on top of the brown sugar mixture with the cut sides of the cherries facing down. Press cherries lightly into the sugar mixture. Set the prepared pan aside while you prepare the cake batter.
Using a whisk, mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.
Put 1 C. sugar and 1/2 cup room-temperature butter into another bowl and mix with an electric mixer until the butter and sugar are fully combined and the mixture is creamy. Mix egg yolks into butter mixture, adding them one at a time and mixing after each addition. Mix in 1 t. vanilla. Alternating between the dry flour mixture and the milk, mix flour and milk into the creamy butter-sugar mixture.
Clean your beaters thoroughly to remove any butter from the beaters and dry them completely. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in a bowl until soft peaks form. Mix 1/4 of the beaten egg whites into the batter and then fold the rest of the egg whites carefully into the batter. Don’t beat the egg whites too much. You want the airy beaten egg whites to lighten your cake batter. Spoon your batter over the cherries in your prepared pan.
Bake cake for 55 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean if the cake is properly cooked. Also, the top of the cake should be a light golden brown and the cake should spring back when you press lightly with your fingers.
Set baked cake on a wire rack for 15 minutes to cool.
Meanwhile, whip cream and powdered sugar with 1/2 t. vanilla until soft peaks form.
Using a small knife, run the knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Place a dish over the top of the cake and invert cake onto the dish but don’t remove the pan at this point. Let the cake sit in the pan for another five minutes to allow it to loosen from the pan without breaking the cake apart. Remove the pan and serve cake warm or at room temperature. Top with whipped cream and sliced fresh cherries.
Here is the link to the original recipe:
Homer (of The Odyssey not of The Simpsons) loved them. He called pears “a gift of the gods.” By the time the Renaissance came along, Europeans were even more in love with pears. The powerful Medici dukes, for example, had fruit gardens with expansive collections of […]
I’m a sucker for a clever recipe name and the name for this dense chocolate cake is clever indeed. This great little cake could easily become a staple in your cooking repertoire. If you are a chocolate lover this would be a great Valentine’s Day dessert. […]
This recipe recently appeared on a website that I read regularly, David Lebovitz’ site.
I’m a sucker for a great review and Lebovitz prefaces this recipe by writing that this cake is his “desert island” recipe, the one cake he would choose were he stranded. Who could resist trying a recipe with that kind of billing? Not me.
While Lebovitz lives (and cooks) in Paris now, his cooking roots extend back to the kitchen of the fabled Chez Panisse. This almond cake is his adapttion of a recipe by Lindsey Shere who was the executive pastry chef at the restaurant.
Interestingly, the batter for this cake is made entirely in a food processor. I’ve never done that before but it worked very well.
I made it this morning. I loved it, and I decided to pass my adaptation of the recipe along.
I would not hesitate to serve this cake at an elegant party. Or, of course, on a proper checkered tablecloth while stranded on a desert island.
Recipe: Almond Cake
1 1/3 C. sugar
8 ounces almond paste
3/4 C. , plus 1/4 C. flour (I used pastry flour)
1/ 1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature (cubed)
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
6 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat your oven to 325 degree F.
Prepare a 20 inch round cake pan or springform pan by buttering the pan and then putting a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. (I used a springform pan with great success.)
Mix the sugar, almond paste and 1/4 C. of flour in the bowl of your food processor until the almond paste is totally incorporated and the overall mixture looks like sand.
Put the rest of the flour (3/4 C.) into a bowl and whisk in baking powder and salt. Set aside.
To the food processor bowl sugar/almond paste mixture, add the cubes of room-temperature butter along with the vanilla and the almond extract. Process until the mixture is smooth. This took a bit of time for me in my Cuisinart. First, the mixture appeared to be trying to form a ball and then, when I kept the Cuisinart’s motor running, the mixture finally softened and formed a batter.
Add eggs one at a time to the processor bowl and process for a few seconds after each egg addition to fully incorporate the egg into the batter. The batter will look pretty thin after adding all the eggs.
Next, add half of the flour mixture to the batter and mix to incorporate. Add the rest of the flour and mix. Only mix the flour into the batter until it is fully incorporated. Resist the temptation to overmix the batter at this point.
Put the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-65 minutes until the cake is set and the top of the cake is a pretty brown color. At 45 minutes, test the cake by pressing the top to see if the cake is set. Mine wasn’t ready at this point. I used a wooden skewer to test the cake at 60 minutes. You want the skewer to come out clean, not covered in uncooked batter. At 60 minutes, I decided to give my cake about 5 minutes more. My cake took 65 minutes. The lesson here is to watch your cake carefully at the end of its cooking.
Remove the cake from the oven. Run a serrated knife around the edge of the cake pan to loosen the cake from the pan. Let cake sit on your counter until it is totally cool. When the cake is cool, invert it on a plate, remove the parchment paper, and then invert it again on a plate so that the pretty brown top is facing up. Dust the cake with powdered sugar and serve. Fresh berries make a good garnish.
Cook’s Notes: The almond flavor in this moist cake is wonderful. The cake has a very delicate texture. I enjoyed my first piece with a hot cup of Darjeeling tea. The hot tea made the flavor of the cake even more intense.
Here is the link to Lebovitz’ site and to this spectacular recipe:
I am an admirer of pastry chef and cookbook author Dorie Greenspan. Julia Child chose her to write Baking with Julia. Her credentials can’t get any better than that. Greenspan writes a prominent food blog that you might enjoy reading, Dorie Greenspan’s Food Blog and […]
I love cheesecake. For many years, I celebrated the end of a successful school year by sharing this cheesecake with my Advanced Placement European History students after they took their tests. I’ve taken it to my friends at my pups’ veterinary hospital. It has been […]
I am dreading the moment this season when the stone fruits disappear from the farmers markets.
Luckily, as I was looking for a new plum recipe to use the plums I bought at Sunday’s market, I came across Marian Burros’ classic plum torte recipe. What a find!
To make matters even better, the plum torte recipe comes with a wonderful backstory.
Burros, a food columnist for the NY Times, published this recipe in the food section of that paper in 1982. The recipe was so well-received by Times readers that its publication became a food section tradition every plum season for many years.
I’m thinking this would be wonderful with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. No…wait!…everything goes well with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.
The recipe for this classic appears below.