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Turn It Upside Down

Cranberry Streusel Upside-Down Cake

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Fruit plus caramel plus cake equals desserts you’ll flip for.

By Katherine Eastman Seeley
From Fine Cooking #127, pp. 80-85

Upside-down cakes are probably not the first dessert that comes to mind when you think of fruit. (I’d put pies, tarts, and shortcakes above them.) Maybe they should be, though. They’re a perfectly delicious-and perfectly easy-way to showcase the fruits we enjoy in winter, like citrus, cranberries, and tropical fruits.

Slideshow: Get inspired by our recipe collection of gorgeous upside-down cakes.

The best upside-down cakes are made from three components: caramel, fruit, and cake. First, caramel is poured into the cake pan, and sliced fruit is arranged on top; then cake batter is poured over that. After baking, the cake is inverted so that the fruit layer is on top. As the cake bakes, the fruit softens, releasing juice that mingles with the caramel to create a topping that’s both pretty and delightfully gooey.

The caramel for the topping is easy to prepare. Making a caramel sauce can be intimidating-crystals sometimes form that won’t go away, and the sauce can separate. But there’s no such worries with the caramel for these cakes. Butter melted with the sugar keeps the sugar from crystallizing. And if the caramel sauce looks like it’s separating, that’s fine. In most cases, it comes back together after a liquid is added; and if not, just proceed as directed, and it will come back together during baking.

Upside-down cakes are fun to customize. Though most upside-down cakes are made with a rather plain vanilla cake layer, I like flavoring mine with spices, nuts, and liqueur in ways that complement their fruit topping. You also can have some fun when arranging the fruit in the caramel; just keep in mind that the fruit shrinks during baking, which is why you want more than one layer of cranberries in the cranberry cake and why you want the fruit slices in the mango and pineapple cake close together or even slightly overlapping. Beyond that, you’re free to create the pattern you like (for design ideas, see More ways with upside-down cakes).

These three cakes make great desserts but also would be tasty served with tea or coffee as part of a brunch menu. They keep well for several days at room temperature-or so I hear. In my house, it’s rare that one of these treats ever lasts that long.

Cranberry Streusel Upside-Down Cake Tropical Upside-Down Cake Orange-Almond Upside-Down Cake
Cranberry Streusel Upside-Down Cake   Tropical Upside-Down Cake   Orange-Almond Upside-Down Cake

 How to turn it upside down (Orange-Almond Upside-Down Cake)

How to turn it upside down How to turn it upside down
1     2
How to turn it upside down How to turn it upside down
3     4

Images by Scott Phillips


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