Turn your cake upside down with these helpful hints

Vicki Hayman, Extension Notes

A freshly frosted cake is always delicious, but what about a cake topped with caramelized fruit instead? I hope everyone is familiar with the classic pineapple upside-down cake, topped with canned pineapple rings and dotted with red maraschino cherries, all nestled in a brown sugar glaze. 


This cake is known as “upside-down” because of the technique used when preparing the cake. It is assembled and baked with fruit on the bottom and batter on top. After the cake is baked, it is turned out by flipping it upside-down, leaving you with the glistening, caramel-coated fruit layer exposed and the cake underneath — Upside Down Cake!


Upside-down cakes have existed for hundreds of years. When cakes would have been cooked over a fire, a clever way to get a nice decorative top with caramelized fruit adorning it was to put the fruit and sugar in the bottom of a skillet over the fire so that when the skillet was turned out, the unattractive top becomes the bottom of the cake and the fruit that was on the bottom becomes the top.


Although tropical in taste, pineapple upside-down cake is an American classic and has been a household favorite for almost 100 years. Pineapple upside-down cakes became popular after a Dole engineer invented the machine that sliced pineapple into perfect rings. After this, the first pineapple upside-down cake recipe appeared in print in 1923.


Pineapple upside-down cakes were all the rage from the 1960s through the ’80s. This cake is old-fashioned and reminiscent of a time when things were simpler. This vintage treat is still delicious today.


When making an upside-down cake, you may find differences in how the caramel is prepared depending on your chosen recipe. Some recipes call for melting the butter and brown sugar together to coat the bottom of the pan, and others make a traditional hard caramel.


There are a lot of great recipes for upside-down cakes out there. However, you do not need to follow an upside-down cake recipe to turn your cakes upside-down. If you have a favorite cake and want to try baking it with a seasonal fruit topping, you can!


Any yellow, spice, birthday, olive oil, or pound cake that is baked in a single layer will work. If it is a layer cake recipe that you want to use, just cut the batter ingredients in half so it makes a single layer.


Thinly slice your fruit of choice. Melt half a stick of butter with 3/4 cup of brown sugar, and pour that into the bottom of a cake pan. Arrange the fruit slices on top, then pour your favorite cake batter over. Next, bake it as you normally would. 


Upside-down cake can be made with more than just fruit. Consider adding nuts, or skip the fruit entirely to feature nuts. 


When it comes to upside-down cake, the tropical fruit pineapple seems to get all the attention — but it is not the only delicious option out there. Nearly any fruit can replace the pineapple-cherry combo with fresh, delicious results. Upside-down cake lends itself to any fruit that cooks well, which is any fruit that can be made into a pie. Here are a few favorites: Apples; apricots; bananas; berries; cherries; cranberries; figs; grapefruits; mangos; nectarines; oranges; peaches; pears; plums; pomegranate seeds; rhubarb.


Did you know you can also add freshly chopped herbs to fruit? If making an upside-down cake with peaches or nectarines, basil, lemon, or thyme will pair well. Mint works with almost any fruit. Try rosemary with figs. The spice cinnamon combines well with apples, persimmons, or pears if you want to make a fall-flavored upside-down cake. 


You will need roughly two to three cups of fruit for the perfect cake top. All fruit measures differently depending on how it’s cut, so this is an approximate measurement. It is important to crowd the pan because the fruit will shrink with cooking.


To ensure the fruit does not stick to the pan, it is important to remove the cake from the pan shortly after it has been taken out of the oven. This task is tricky as the sugar and fruit topping is still hot and can burn. Place the cake straight from the oven onto a cooling rack. As soon as the fruit has stopped bubbling (about one minute), place a cake plate over the cake and, using hot pads, pick up the rack, cake, and cake plate. Holding all three firmly, flip over to invert the cake in one motion. Set the whole stack down on the counter, remove the rack, and then carefully remove the cake pan. There will be hot steam from the fruit, so use caution.


Upside-down cakes are a perfect way to bring fruit and cake together. So if you are looking for a distinctive dessert to wow your guests, look no further than this retro classic!



Source: foodreference.com; thekitchn.com; whatscookingamerica.net


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