Anyone who knows me knows that I have a near-obsession with upside down cakes. I’ve got a few stand-bys that I make several times a summer – which means they’re REALLY good since there are few thing I actually make twice. But I’m always on the lookout for something new. Well, this is something new and probably a soon-to-be-standby as well.
It did take a bit of work to halve and pit all the cherries by hand. (And made a mess of my counter in the process.) But it was worth it in the end. Still, it brings me one step closer to thinking maybe a cherry pitter is a one-use gadget that’s worth its space.
I was very pleased at the way the sweet cherries and balsamic vinegar played off each other, and the cornmeal cake was great too. I tend to prefer more fruit in my upside-down cakes than most recipes call for, so I upped the fruit, but I’d probably up it a bit more the next time around. Still, I have no complaints with it as is.
Cherry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake
Adapted from Bon Appétit, June 2008
The original recipe called for whole milk, but I used skim because, well, that’s all I had at the time. It was great as is and I can’t imagine whole milk would have made it much better.
Makes one 10″ cake
1/2 cup + 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3/8 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 cups fresh Bing cherries, pitted (I halved mine, but whole is fine too)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground medium grind)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup skim milk
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Combine 6 Tbsp butter with brown sugar and vinegar in 10- to 11-inch ovenproof skillet with 2-inch-high sides. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to high; add cherries and bring to boil. Remove from heat.
Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl. Add sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until whites are stiff but not dry. Using rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of whites into batter to lighten slightly. Fold in remaining whites in 3 additions (batter will be thick). Spoon batter over cherries in skillet, then spread evenly with offset spatula to cover cherries.
Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in skillet on rack 5 minutes. Run spatula around edges of cake to loosen. Place large serving platter upside down atop skillet. Using pot holders or oven mitts, firmly hold platter and skillet together and invert. Leave skillet atop cake 5 minutes. Remove skillet. If necessary, rearrange any cherries that may have become dislodged. Let cake cool at least 45 minutes. Cut cake into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
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