The Essential Upside-Down Buttermilk Cake

I am a cake fanatic. Not those fancy fondant cakes. Heavily decorated cakes do nothing for me. It’s really all about the taste and texture of a big ol' simple slice of cake.

Layered cakes are my favorite, but when I am under a time crunch (i.e. kids are coming home from school in an hour or a guest is popping by and I want to greet them with the smells of something sweet & comforting from the kitchen), a basic buttermilk cake is just about the most amazing thing ever.

There are hundreds of recipes for these sorts of cake. Varying fruit depending on what's on sale at the store that week. I have tried to create this recipe with as few dishes as possible too. Its all about simplicity in a recipe like this…including the clean-up.
I always bake mine in a deep cast iron skillet. I lucked out on ours 10 years ago in someone’s trash pile. Yes...a huge stack of cast iron that someone threw away along the side of the road in Kentucky. I have many amazing pieces of cookware in my kitchen, but this deep cast iron has been a workhorse of my kitchen for decades. Everything from roasts to berry crumbles turn out beautifully every time.
And don't ask me about seasoning it. I have no clue. I don't use soap on it but beyond that I don't do anything special.


Speaking of special...let’s get onto this recipe. All photos are below the recipe...

 

The Essential Upside-Down Buttermilk Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted (use a light oil if you don’t have butter)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk (I make my own with milk & vinegar)
2-3 cups fresh fruit

*1 cup of sugar (additional)

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle of the oven. Butter a 9-inch round cake (or cast iron) pan and cut a parchment paper round to place in the bottom of the pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add rest of ingredient to the bowl and mix until incorporated. Do not overmix. Set aside.

Turning your attention to your pan, melt ½ cup of water and 1 cup of sugar (I use cane sugar) until sugar has dissolved. Put half of the sugar water in the pan, on top of the parchment paper. At this point, scatter the fruit of your choice to cover the surface of the parchment completely. I love using strawberries in this recipe. Blackberries and blueberries also are delicious. This go around I used a bunch of citruses I had on hand. If using citrus, remove all white pith to keep the fruit from retaining a bitter flavor. Slice any fruit (apples, citrus, pears) in larger slices – about ½ inch.
Once your fruit is arranged, pour the rest of the sugar water on top of the fruit. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. The batter will be thick. If you need to get the batter towards the edge of the pan and are having a hard time with it, lightly dampen your fingertips with water and nudge the batter from the center towards the edge of the pan.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean. In my oven this takes about 25 minutes.

Let the cake rest for 10 minutes and then use a butter knife to loosen the cake from the pan along the edge. Invert the cake to a plate or platter and voila! You may have a few pieces of fruit that don’t make the flip. Not to worry! Just nestle them back in their spot and no one will be the wiser.


Its best eaten warm...but also just as great as morning breakfast the next day with a big dollop of yogurt.