Cherry Upside Down Cake

This is not a pretty cake on first glance. The moment the cherry upside down cake is freed from its pan, the only pretty it could be considered is pretty awful looking. My first thought was “oh my, how am I going to photograph that??” The cherries are all gooped up into a very moist crumble that looks, well, like something you don’t want to eat.

But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find the beauty within. All it takes is a little slice to turn reveal the cherries nestled in a nicely crumbed and moist Génoise cake. And, of course, one bite will seal the deal. No worries about the sponge on this cake being to dry. There is plenty of luscious, cherry goodness oozing it’s way into each spoonful.

Now, for a little backstory. Maybe you’ve been wondering where I’ve been. Certainly, I have not come close to living up to my tag-line, “My Food, Almost Daily.” June has simply been a whirlwind… after Boston, there was an assignment out in Yakima for a local publication on the fruit orchards currently oh-so-ripe with fresh cherries, a weekend in San Francisco where I got to meet Heidi (!!!!!) while shooting and touring the Marin County Farmers Market, and then back home where I’ve been busily on assignment for a certain Tom of Crab Cake fame. Each of these little trips and assignments has been leading me up to this cake.

A bag of tree-fresh cherries of course came home from Eastern Washington…

…a trip to Tartine Bakery in SF, where Heidi patiently waited with me in a line down the block just so I could try one of the to die-for croissants. Of course, the visit had me itching to make something from that cookbook once again…

…and Dahlia Bakery is where I picked up the gorgeous red cake plate. It has been sitting there, staring at me, waiting to be used.

The choice to make a Génoise as the base for this cake might seem a bit strange, but I had such success with the Chiffon recipe that I decided to give it a go. I had read all sorts of things about how hard it is to make the Génoise be both light and not too dry all at the same time. I suppose it was a bit risky, but I really wanted a lighter cake to let the cherries be the focus, and the Génoise worked great for that despite the extra complications of making a foam based cake.

As I typically do, I made a half recipe of the cake, and used a 5 x 4 inch rectangular ceramic baking pan, so if you are making this recipe in a normal 9 or 10 inch spring form pan, increase the cherries, etc. Since I didn’t change the cake recipe at all, I’m not going to reprint its recipe… trust me, the Tartine book is worth it.

PS: Sorry if you’ve come to the site and it has lost all of its graphical goodness. There is some weird bug with WordPress that resets the site to the default theme. I’m working on figuring out what the problem is, so just bear with me until then…

Cherry Upside Down Cake
makes one 5 inch cake

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1 t dried orange zest
1 t sugar
a sprinkling of cardamom
Génoise cake batter, 1/2 recipe
powdered sugar to dust, if desired

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line a 5 inch round or 5 x 4 inch rectangular baking pan with the pitted cherries. Sprinkle with the orange zest, sugar and cardamom. Set aside.

Prepare the cake batter. Once folded all together, pour about 1 cup over the cherries, and give them a little stir to prevent air pockets from forming. Top with the remaining batter.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake bounces back when lightly touched. Let it cool on a wire rack.

Use a knife to cut around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan. You may need to use a flexible spatula to loosen the bottom some to help remove it. Place the serving plate on top of the baking pan, and then flip the whole thing over.

To improve this cakes appearance for serving, trim off the edges of the cake, exposing the golden-yellow sponge and the piece of cherry. Dust with the powdered sugar if desired.

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