BLACKBERRY UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

July 10, 2009

I am a sucker for road-side produce.  You know, you’re driving along (especially this time of year), and suddenly you see a spray-painted piece of particle board, declaring “FRESH PICKED CORN” or “STRAWBERRIES” or “OKRA.”

blackberries in a bowl

Or, you know, “BLACKBERRIES.”  When I drove to San Antonio from Houston a few weeks ago, to visit my dear friend Arianne (of key-lime-pie loving fame), I stopped about 45 minutes outside of town to buy some insanely good peaches and these ripe, Rubenesque blackberries.

What I love about this cake is the way that it works equally well for dessert as it does for breakfast. Throw it in the oven at the start of dinner, and it will be warm and ready to serve by the time your meal is finished. Bake it Sunday night, set it next to the office coffee pot, and endear yourself to all of your coworkers on an otherwise grumpy Monday morning. It would also make a lovely housewarming gift, hey-you-just-had-a-baby offering, or potluck contribution.

Frankly, I think this cake is the main reason my friend John puts up with our old, incontinent dog for whom he and his wife Courtney (an important BJG taste-tester/inspiration/dish-washer) often dog-sit.  It may actually be the only reason he puts up with me, come to think of it.

The finished cake will keep, wrapped well in saran wrap & foil and refrigerated, for about a week.  But if John is any indication, there’s no way it’s going to last half that long.

blackberry upside-down cake

Special equipment & ingredients:

• A kitchen mixer is most helpful but not required—if you do try it by hand, make certain your butter is extra soft.
Parchment paper is one of the greatest inventions known to man, and well worth the $2.50 investment. Find it on the same aisle as Saran Wrap.
• If you grew up in the south like me, you are already familiar with the wonders buttermilk can do in pancakes, biscuits, waffles, & cornbread.  If you’ve never cooked with buttermilk before, I urge you to try it this time–a small bottle will run you less than $1.  If you must substitute, stir a bit of lemon juice into some regular milk & let it sit for a few minutes before using.

BLACKBERRY UPSIDE DOWN (AND RIGHT-SIDE-UP) CAKE
adapted from Gourmet Magazine’s “Everyday Meals”

pan: 8-inch round

oven: 400 degrees F

goes nicely with: a scoop of vanilla ice cream, homemade whipped cream*

ingredients:

2 cups fresh blackberries (use an extra ½ cup if you like lots of fruit) sugar-coated blackerries in pan

½  cup sugar, plus 2 Tablespoons extra for sprinkling

1 cup all-purpose flour

½  tsp. baking soda, NOT powder

¼ tsp. salt

½ stick unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup buttermilk (shake it before you pour!)

Use the bottom of your cake pan to trace two 9-inch circles on parchment paper. Cut out the circles and place them inside the pan (use a little butter if they won’t stay put). Lightly butter the sides of the pan and the top circle of parchment. Spoon in a bit of flour and shake to coat the pan.

Rinse & dry the berries.  Pour them into the cake pan; try to get them to fit in just one layer. If you’re feeling crafty, go ahead and arrange the berries into pretty concentric circles. If you’ve better things to do with your time, don’t worry, the cake’s still going to taste good! Sprinkle the blackberries with 2 Tablespoons of sugar; set pan aside.

For the batter: cream butter & sugar together until light & fluffy (if using a mixer, run on “high” for about two minutes). More gently mix in the egg & vanilla (switch speed to “low”) until the mixture just begins to come together.

Here, a classic baking technique: alternately adding the wet & dry ingredients. So in one measuring cup or bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, & salt. In another cup or bowl, measure out your buttermilk (shake it up first!). Now, you always want to start and finish with the dry ingredients. So your process will go like this:

a third of the flour mixture
half of the buttermilk
a third of the flour mixture
half of the buttermilk
a third of the flour mixture

Just eyeball the amounts—it doesn’t matter if you exactly halve the buttermilk or not—the important thing is just not to dump it all in at once. Don’t over mix! Stop mixing when the batter has just come together.

Using spatula or large spoon, drop even clumps of batter over the blackberries until they are all hidden. Bake the cake for approximately 30-35 minutes—I recommend you test the cake at minute 25 using a toothpick. You want the toothpick to come out of the center of the cake with a few crumbs clinging to it.

If your cake takes longer than 35 minutes, don’t panic. If the top (which is actually the bottom!) of the cake starts to look a little too brown, just carefully cover it with foil.

Remove cake from the oven and run a butter knife around the inside of the pan. Now you get to flip it! Set a big plate or platter on top of the cake pan. Using pot holders, grab the pan with the plate on top and flip it all in one motion (it’s like ripping off a Band-Aid–you gotta do it fast!)  The cake will release from the pan—peel the parchment rounds off the top and enjoy.

Share/Save/Bookmark

16 Comments »

  1. Nishta – This sounds delicious, but I have one question. I’ve heard about the miracle of the loaves and the fishes, but I’m fascinated by the miracle of one large egg turning into two.
    This recipe reminds me of watching my grandmother cook. Carolyn

    Comment by carolyn — July 10, 2009 @ 10:56 am

  2. one egg or two eggs, this looks good! Im saving this recipe when I get me some nice blackberries. I’d love to guide our readers to your site if you won’t mind.Just add your choice of foodista widget to this post and it’s all set to go, Thanks!

    Comment by Alisa — July 10, 2009 @ 1:33 pm

  3. Sounds yummy! Have I missed how much buttermilk to use? Thanks!

    Comment by Annette — July 10, 2009 @ 1:59 pm

  4. This might be a way for me to use the blackberries I always buy – thinking I like them – and never eat.

    Comment by Cheryl Arkison — July 10, 2009 @ 6:12 pm

  5. The first time I tasted this was at work with Nishta. And I love this blackberry upside cake it’s the best. And it also reminds me of my grandma and it makes the house smell so good.
    Miss you Nishta see you soon. Connie

    Comment by Connie Hurd — July 10, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

  6. sorry for the confusion! silly typos. 1 egg & 1/2 cup buttermilk–it’s all been updated in the post now. thanks for keeping me honest, everyone.

    Comment by bluejeangourmet — July 10, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

  7. I can tell you this is one of greatest desserts ever. I eat more sugar in a day then probably all your readers will eat in a month so I think I can fairly state I know my sweets. This cake is perfect, great firm texture yet still moist, awesome berry flavor. One cake usually last me about 2 hours if I’m focused on being healthy, less otherwise.

    Comment by John — July 11, 2009 @ 8:46 pm

  8. Nishta,
    I’m talking to Courts as I write this – she said I must check out your blog and it does look enticing! We are planning to make the blackberry upside down cake tonight. Can’t wait to puruse the rest of your blog. I never knew you were such a foodie!
    Angie

    Comment by Angie Gardner — July 18, 2009 @ 11:06 am

  9. OK ma’am! This was extremely amazing!!!!!!! I made this cake for a prewedding dinner a few days ago and it disappeared! I have to admit that i ate a good bit but still so did everyone else 🙂 Thank you much for sharing this one!
    ~L

    Comment by Lara — July 18, 2009 @ 2:50 pm

  10. Lara, I love that feeling of bringing something to a gathering and having it disappear…very satisfying!

    Angie, thanks for listening to your daughter and coming to take a look! it’s great to have you.

    Comment by bluejeangourmet — July 21, 2009 @ 10:18 am

  11. nothing like a roadside stand….

    Comment by mary-kathryn millner — July 21, 2009 @ 10:46 am

  12. I love blackberries, so easy to find and collect yourself and then turn them into delicious puddings like you have here!

    Comment by birthday cake pictures — July 22, 2009 @ 11:40 pm

  13. Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!!!! My blackberry bushes are (for the first time BTW) producing a gazillion blackberries, and I needed a recipe for them!

    Comment by dena — August 6, 2009 @ 9:20 am

  14. […] nerd.  She is married to a very tall cycling enthusiast named John, for whom I will be making this blackberry-upside-down-cake many times this summer, because it’s his […]

    Pingback by CHEDDAR COINS OF CHEESY GOODNESS « Blue Jean Gourmet — May 16, 2010 @ 11:41 pm

  15. I could never replace you and Jill but it was fun making something that reminded John and Courtney of you! Thanks for the amazing website! The cake was AWESOME!

    Comment by McKell — September 9, 2011 @ 12:25 am

  16. […] (clafouti!  clafouti!  clafouti!), this dessert is like the more sophisticated, French cousin of this blackberry upside down cake.  Instead of a cake batter, you make a custard to pour over the raspberries, resulting in an airy, […]

    Pingback by RASPBERRY CLAFOUTI — July 22, 2012 @ 11:58 am

Leave a comment