My preliminary Google search only returned about 4 foods that began with the letter U. 3 were Japanese, ranging from an asparagus-like vegetable to eel, but seeing as I wouldn’t cook eel even if you paid me, I kept scrolling. And there, sitting rather unassumingly amongst yet another list of Japanese food, I found my U. Upside down cake.
Pineapple upside down cake, although an American classic, seemed too, well, traditional, so I looked through some other fruit options. Apple, banana, and mango cakes all appeared in a variety of cookbooks, but I stopped when a cranberry recipe caught my eye.
Since the holidays ended months ago, my grocery store no longer sells fresh cranberries, and apparently, they only stock their mediocre frozen fruit selection with pineapple, strawberries, and blueberries. So much for that creative cake… Because I was in a rush, I opted for frozen strawberries instead.
Bad idea. I grabbed a bag of frozen whole strawberries. How in the world was I supposed to thinly slice strawberries that were harder than a block of ice?? But I didn’t realize that until after I had already poured my sugar syrup into the cake pan, so the only thing I could possibly do was open my freezer and grab a half-used bag of frozen blueberries, thaw them out with hot tap water, and toss them onto the syrup. (Most days, my kitchen might as well be a stand-up improv comedy stage!)
I did manage to read through the recipe’s reviews, and most people cut 15 minutes off of the cooking time. After those 40 minutes were up, I opened up the oven door, and just about threw my dishtowel at the cake. The center jiggled more than Santa’s belly, and the edges overflowed over the rim of the cake pan. Ugh.
I shoved the cake back in the oven and obsessively began checking it every 5 minutes. Opening up the oven door and letting cold air whoosh in probably wasn’t the best idea, but at just over 55 minutes, the middle firmed up and my toothpick came out clean.
I dreaded turning the cake out onto a platter. I had planned on surprising my family with a gorgeous upside down cake when I drove home for dinner, yet at the rate things were going, the trash can seemed like a much better recipient. But I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and lifted off the cake pan.
I cautiously opened one eye to take a peek. Then the other. What awaited my gaze was not a disappointing disaster but a beautiful blueberry upside down cake. A complete, utter surprise! So of course, I had to try a piece first. And another. And another…
Normally, I have lots of self-discipline when it comes to dessert, but after I kind of consumed 1/5 of the cake (it was supposed to serve 12), I put it in a box and sealed the lid. Hopefully a few pieces still make it home for my family dinner tonight…
Blueberry Upside Down Cake
modified from Cooking Light’s Cranberry Upside Down Cake
The reviews agreed that the fruit topping needed more butter and sugar, so I wrote out their (and my) ingredient modifications instead. Substitute your favorite fruit, whether it’s fresh or frozen.
2½ tbsp butter
½ c. brown sugar
8-12 oz blueberries (enough to almost cover the bottom of the cake pan)
1½ c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ c. butter, softened
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs, whites & yolks separated
½ c. skim milk
1 tsp vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a 9” round cake pan with cooking spray.
- Combine 2½ tbsp butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir for 2 minutes, or until all of the sugar dissolves. Pour into the cake pan and swirl around to evenly coat the bottom. Top with the blueberries.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, cream ½ c. butter and white sugar. Add vanilla and egg yolks to butter mixture, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Add ⅓ of flour mixture to butter and eggs, mixing just until incorporated. Add ½ of milk, mixing until just incorporated. Repeat with next ⅓ flour mixture, then second ½ of milk, and final ⅓ of flour mixture.
- In another bowl, beat egg whites with clean, dry beaters until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter. Pour batter into the cake pan over the blueberries, and evenly distribute. Place cake in the oven, and begin checking after 40 minutes. (The original recipe called for 55 minutes, which is what mine took, but others said theirs turned out way too dry.) Cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with a few crumbs attached.
- Cool cake in the pan for 15 minutes. Turn over onto a serving platter, and leave the cake pan on top for another 5 minutes before removing. Serve warm.