Thursday, September 3, 2009

188. Fresh Apricot Upside-Down Cake (p. 718)

I can't believe how far behind I've fallen in posting about the recipes I've cooked. I cooked this recipe more than six weeks ago! I took a few recipes out of order when I went on vacation last month, and now I've got a pretty sizable backlog of recipes to work through. Well, stick with me, and I promise that you're in for some tasty treats.

I made this cake to bring with us when we visited our friends Travis and Jodi in their new place. Upside-down cakes are the best. They are sweet, moist, and they look great. Of course, pineapple is the traditional upside-down cake topping, but it's not the only one. There are three different kinds of upside-down cake in The Book. This one uses fresh apricots, which are plentiful and tasty in late summer.

To make this cake, I started by melting a stick of butter in an oven-proof skillet. Once the foam subsided, I sprinkled some brown sugar over the melted butter and let it cook for a few minutes without stirring. Then I arranged some apricot halves (cut sides down) on the bottom of the skillet. I took it off the heat and set it aside while I made the cake batter, which is a pretty straightforward, traditional cake batter. I creamed together some softened butter and sugar, and then I added some vanilla and almond extracts and some eggs. I finished the batter off by adding some buttermilk and some flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, a little at a time, alternating between the dry ingredients and the buttermilk.

I carefully spooned the batter over the apricots and smoothed the top with a rubber spatula and baked it. I let the cake cool for a few minutes before I placed a serving plate over the skillet and very carefully inverted the pan and lifted it off the cake. The Book says that some of the fruit may stick to the pan and need to be put back in place on the top of the cake. No such problems here, the cake released perfectly, and the jewel-like apricots stayed firmly planted in the top of the cake where they belonged.

This cake was a real winner as far as I'm concerned. It is stunningly beautiful with its bright orange fruits and its glossy, caramel-y glaze. And the flavor is wonderful. The topping is sweet and buttery, and the interplay of all of the other flavors is just great: the tart apricots, the tang of the buttermilk and the hints of vanilla and almond come together in perfect harmony.

Date Cooked: July 18, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A

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