upside down cakes

In the December 2015 issue of Bon Appetite magazine, there is a recipe for an upside-down blood orange- polenta cake (page 101).  Blood oranges are not readily available at my local grocery store but last week my aunt gave me a bag of navel oranges.  This was one of the variations suggested by the magazine and so I decided to use those to finally make this cake!

I found a tube of ready made polenta at Trader Joe’s® and together with buttermilk and butter, the cake was so moist.  It also helped that brown sugar carmelized in butter is at the bottom with the oranges.  The key is to flip the cake over shortly after it is out of the oven, so that the caramel and fruit juices soak through the hot cake:

image  Not only is it beautiful, but it is delicious!  The cake is not that sweet, allowing the caramel and fruit juices to really brighten up each bite.  I loved it and have made it three times this week alone!

I do love the concept of an upside down cakes and have spent a lot of time practicing in the past with recipes found in the Cook’s Illustrated® cookbook.  For this post, I decided to make these cakes again to see how they fared against this orange one!  In the book, the main recipe is for a classic pineapple upside down cake:

image  It uses canned pineapples, which are cooked in a saucepan with white sugar and butter, for the topping.  The cake is a basic white one, which acts as the perfect canvas for the cooked fruit.  It’s classic and my neighbor’s favorite!  So, each time I need a favor from next door, this recipe comes out!

One variation it suggested by Cook’s Illustrated® is a coconut pineapple upside down cake:

image  The topping has some ginger in it – they call for fresh ginger but I find that it is just as good with ground ginger in a spice jar.  The cake has coconut milk and flaked coconut inside.  My staff love this one – the ginger and coconut go nicely together.

And finally, an orange pineapple upside down cake:

image  It calls for just orange juice in the topping but I like to put bits of orange with the pineapple.  The batter has some cardamon added to it.  I love the combination of cardamon and orange – this is my favorite variation to make!

So, when it is the dead of winter and there is no fresh fruit around, these are great cakes to make to bring back the flavors of summer.  And even when it’s not summer, these are just great ways to bake with fruit!

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