Each member of my family has a different notion of the perfect cake. My husband adores dark chocolate cake with matching buttercream frosting. My adult son favors banana cake with thick penuche icing. And my own longstanding preference is for unfrosted, not too sweet, fruit flavored cakes, such as the Blueberry Cheese Danish and Tangerine Poppy Seed cakes found on this site. Since I was home alone this week I decided to satisfy my own tastes by experimenting with new approaches to the old-fashioned classic: upside down cake.
This recipe was inspired by the idea of pairing red wine cake, which I’ve seen everywhere in recent months, with mixed seasonal fruits in a light, brandy-flavored glaze. In other words, this upside down cake incorporates the ingredients of the refreshing summer drink of sangria. Please note that this recipe is quite flexible in terms of the seasonal fruits selected. While I have used oranges, plums, and kiwis here, other combinations of seasonal sweet and tart fruits would work equally well, including pineapple, peaches, apricots, berries, apples, and pears, among others. Also be aware that the predominant flavor of this cake is fruit, not vino. A fortified wine, such as port, might be a better option if you prefer a very pronounced wine flavor for this cake.
For the glaze:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2-1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon red wine
1-2 tablespoon brandy, triple sec, or other fruit-flavored liqueur
For the “topping”:
1 kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced across into 1/4-inch thick discs
2 unpeeled plums, pitted and sliced into 1/4-inch thick wedges
2 small oranges, peeled and sliced across into 1/4-inch thick discs (removing any seeds as you go along)
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup red wine
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Oil a 9-inch round metal cake pan or oven-proof skillet.
- Combine all glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and briefly cook on a medium heat burner until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved (readers with a sweet tooth should use the larger amounts of sugar and brandy shown in the ingredients list above). Pour the glaze into the bottom of the prepared baking pan.
- Arrange the sliced fruit on the glaze in the bottom of the baking pan, as shown in the photo above, starting in the center and working your way out. Set aside.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add 3/4 cup white sugar and beat for approximately one minute until light and well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for approximately two minutes after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest. Alternately, add one-half of the flour mixture and one-half of the red wine, beating for about 10 seconds on low after each addition. Repeat. Spoon the batter over the fruit in the baking pan.
- Bake for approximately 40-50 minutes or until a straw inserted in the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the baking pan for approximately 10 minutes and then invert it onto a serving plate. Serves 8-10.