Apricot Upside Down Cake
Would you believe me if I told you this was the best cake I’ve ever made? Excluding frosted layer cakes, which fall into a category all their own, this apricot upside down cake is a winner. The winner. Don’t believe me? What if I tell you its basic components are caramel, fresh apricots and cake? That we finished the entire thing in 18 hours? That the buttery caramel oozes down all over the cake when you flip it?
Fine, I’ll just have to show you this:
If that doesn’t get you salivating, then you’re beyond saving. For the rest of you, I dare you to find a better cake. Of course, to prove it you’ll have to actually make me cake, so really it’s a win-win.
My love affair with upside down cakes is long and uncomplicated. I love them all, every single one. Francesco and I even served an apricot upside down cake at our wedding party in Italy. We used the recipe of a family friend and, though it turned out gooey and delicious over there, my subsequent attempts to recreate it have produced an almost crunchy cake and a big, sticky (albeit yummy) mess. So when I brought home 5 kilos (11 pounds!) of apricots last week, I knew what I had to make (besides apricot jam, recipe forthcoming).
After much Googling, I came across a few recipes that seemed to add up to my stipulations: lots of fruit (given my 11 pounds of apricots); a simple, not too thick cake; and a gorgeously caramelized topping. I tweaked and mashed together all the recipes, as one does, and the result was, well, spectacular.
Go ahead, make this cake and then tell me if it isn’t the most delicious cake you’ve ever had. I dare you.
APRICOT UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
Recipe adapted from a bunch of online upside down cake recipes. Should serve 8 – 10, but it didn’t get past 5 of us.
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons / 50 grams) butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
6 – 10 fresh apricots, halved and pitted
In a large ovenproof (such as cast iron) skillet*, melt the butter over medium-low heat and add brown sugar. Cook over medium heat just until sugar begins to bubble. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Meanwhile, halve and pit the apricot and chop each half into 3 equal sized slices (6 slices per apricot). Arrange the slices in concentric circles on the caramel in the bottom of the skillet. Then make the cake!
* the larger the skillet, the higher topping : cake ratio. I used a 12″ cast iron skillet, but you could you a 10″ or 8″ for a much thicker cake.
1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 grams) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 /2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until combined, then add the eggs and milk, and beat until combined.
Add all remaining ingredients and gently mix together with a wooden spoon until smooth.
Pour the cake batter over the fruit in the skillet, using a spoon to gently spread it smooth to the edge without moving the fruit. Bake for 30 – 45 minutes (depending on size of your skillet [the larger your skillet the shorter the time]) until a tester comes out clean.
While cake is still hot out of the oven, carefully place the serving plate over the skillet and flip the skillet over, inverting the cake onto the plate. I didn’t lose any fruit in the process, but if you do, just plop it on the cake. Be forewarned: there will be some runny, caramel drippings to lick up. You’re welcome. Serve warm or at room temperature with freshly whipped sweetened cream.