31 May 2012
Cherry upside-down cake made with fresh sweet cherries and homemade batter is nothing like that ooey-gooey cake that was popular when I was a child. I think it was called Dump Cake. We never made it at our house, but it seemed to turn up everywhere for a time. I think you dumped a can of crushed pineapple in heavy syrup in a baking dish, then a can of cherry pie filling, then a box of yellow cake mix, then a couple sticks of margarine, sliced up. Then after it was baked and cooled, you dumped on some of that popular faux whipped cream that comes frozen in a tub.
Well, that sort of thing didn't fly at our house. My mother would shiver just thinking of all the sugar, hydrogenated fat, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring and who-knows-what-all chemicals lurking in that fine mess. I tried some once at a neighbor's house, but it was waaaaaay too sweet for my taste. And I was rapidly becoming just as freaked out about ingesting chemicals as my mother was, so ... (Note: To learn more about the additives in your food, go to Be Food Smart.)
Couldn't find my cherry pitter, so did without. When you're cutting cherries in half, it's fairly easy to just pull out the pits with your fingers. But I think I'll get a new cherry pitter anyway; I was never thrilled with the one I had, and I'm always happy with OXO. So before my next cherry recipe, I'm getting an OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter! (PS added 17 July 2012: I just used the OXO for the first time, and it is FABULOUS! I'm kicking myself for not getting it sooner!)
(I posted this recipe in response to @OregonKimm who loves cherries. She also loves reading and blogging at Fall in Love with Books. Here you go, Kimm!)
Cherry Upside-Down Cake
(Makes one 8-inch cake, 8 servings)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, room temperature
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 pound whole Bing or other sweet cherries, about 2 cups halved and pitted (reserve 8 whole with stems for garnish)
1 packed cup (5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon mace or 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Halve and pit the cherries. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the sides and bottom of an 8-inch round pan (I use a Pyrex 8-inch round baking dish) with vegetable spray, line bottom with parchment paper (not strictly necessary, but can give you "confidence"), and melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in the pan in the microwave or preheating oven. Add the brown sugar to the butter and blend. Starting at outer edge, arrange cherries, cut side up, in single layer in bottom of pan and press lightly to make them stick; set aside.
2 In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and mace. Mix on low speed for one minute to blend. Add 5 tablespoons softened butter, milk and vanilla; mix on low speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the egg, and mix 1 1/2 minutes longer.
3 Spread the batter carefully over the cherries with a rubber spatula. Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Loosen edges with knife, and invert onto a platter; wait about half a minute before removing pan. Peel off parchment, if used. Let cool about 45 minutes, or up to several hours, before serving slightly warm or at room temperature.
4 Whip cream and sugar to desired consistency. Garnish each serving with a dollop of whipped cream and a whole cherry.