I had a small bag of rhubarb in the freezer, as well as some cherries and raspberries, so this upside-down cake was made with frozen leftovers from last year. It did not taste left-over at all!
My ornamental “Snow Fountain” cherry tree is in flower, and that means my fruit cherry tree is not too far behind, although it will be quite a while yet before they are ready to pick and eat. I knew I had some stashed in the freezer that were calling to me. Alas, I didn’t have as many cherries as I thought, but I found my last bag of rhubarb and some raspberries from last season as well. They asked to be invited!
Use any fruit, fresh or frozen
You can use any fruit in this, fresh or frozen. My mom always made pineapple upside-down cake with maraschino cherries, and eating that combination is a powerful time machine for me. But there are so many other fruits you can use, and this time of year if you still have a stash from last season, this is a great way to use them up.
Just for a treat
This is not health food. There is a lot of fat and sugar, although it is not overly sweet if you are using tart fruit such as the rhubarb and raspberries. The whipping of the egg whites keeps this cake tender and light. A little treat once in a while is perfect for special occasions. The special occasion this week, was the blossoming of my cherry tree!
Frozen is fine!
If you are using frozen fruit, thaw only to the point being able to handle individual pieces or they will be too soggy to arrange. I had flash frozen both my rhubarb and berries, so a quick whack with my hand and all the fruit separated.
You can make this dairy free, or gluten free. For an egg-free version, use whipped aquafaba in place of the egg whites and add a half of a mashed banana to replace the richness of the egg yolks.
Rhubarb and Berry Upside-Down Cake
Serves 8 -10
- ½ stick unsalted butter or vegan substitute
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 to 2 ½ cups of rhubarb, berries, or mix
- 1 stick softened butter or vegan butter
- 1 cup white sugar, organic
- Zest of one lemon
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp. almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached cake flour
- 2 tsp. non-aluminum baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup milk, dairy or plant
- Pinch cream of tartar or 1/2 tsp, vinegar (to stabilize egg whites)
Preheat the oven to 350˚F, and place a rack in the middle. Grease an 8 ½” or 9” round cake pan, and line bottom with parchment or waxed paper. Assemble and measure out other ingredients.
Place the ½ stick of butter, the brown sugar, and the cinnamon in the pan and place in the oven. Check in 5 minutes to see if the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Once dissolved, turn the pan or use a spatula to even out the mixture on the bottom.
Place fruit on the bottom of the pan, either just tossed in a single layer, or arranged, your choice. I had the time, so I attempted a pretty pattern.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, three to five minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time, then the vanilla and almond extract.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a separate bowl. With the mixer running on low, add the flour and milk alternately in two batches, beating between each addition. Stop when the last of the flour is mixed in, and don’t overbeat.
Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks, you don’t want stiff peaks or any dryness. Add a little to the batter (it will be thick) to loosen it up, then gently fold the rest of it in.
Dollop the batter on top of the fruit, taking care not to mess up the pattern if you arranged the fruit. Spread to an even layer.
Bake for 35 minutes, and check. It may need an additional five minutes or so if you used a smaller pan and the dough layer was thicker. You want a toothpick to come out clean when inserted in the center, and the cake will feel firm.
Let cool for five minutes. Loosen the sides with a butter knife, place a large plate over the cake, use a tea towel to hold both sides firmly, take a deep breath, and invert. Remove the pan from the fruit. If some sticks, just use the butter knife to scrape it up and place it on the cake. It doesn’t need to be perfect; it will still be delicious.
Serve as is or with a little cream on the side.
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