July 4th Upside-Down Treats: Blueberries, Plums, Nectarines and Apples

These Fourth of July treats showcase fresh plums and nectarines, blueberries and apples in holiday finales that are as delicious as well as beautiful.

Forget canned pineapple rings. These upside-down beauties showcase fresh fruit in eye-popping holiday sweets.

Don’t get the idea that I have anything against a good pineapple upside-down cake. My grandmother made a luscious version. She nested a maraschino into the center of each ring. I thought it was fancy, and so did she, even though she never garnished the wedges with the recommended whipped cream.

According to Sylvia Lovegren’s book, “Fashionable Food” (Macmillan, out of print), pineapple upside-down cake was the newest and most popular cake of the 1920’s. That makes perfect sense because my Nana was a young mother and homemaker in that decade.

Lovegren wrote that it was named the “best new recipe of 1927” in the January 1928 issue of Pictorial Review, one of the most popular magazines of the day.

“Upside-down cake was not considered fare fit only for the family supper, it was company dinner stuff, glamorous and new,” she wrote.

Yes, Nana, I loved your snazzy pineapple version, but it tangles up my seasonality sensor to use canned fruit in the summer. Why not fresh plums, or blueberries, or nectarines?

The procedure is simple. Upside-down cake requires fruit, brown sugar and butter on the bottom of the pan, with a simple butter cake batter poured on top. Once baked, the cake cools for a few minutes in the pan, then is flip-flopped onto a plate or platter to put the glamorous fruit in view.

Serve it warm for the very best flavor, but room temperature is good, too. A garnish of ice cream or whipped cream is essential to add a needed creaminess.

And for me, no story about upside-down desserts would be complete without a recipe for an upside-down apple pie that showcases tart Granny Smith apples and pecans or walnuts.

Happy baking.

 

Nectarine Upside-Down Cake
Yield: 8 servings
Topping:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided use
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
4 medium-sized, ripe unpeeled nectarines, pitted, cut into 3/8-inch wedges
Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, see cook’s notes
1/2 cup milk
For serving: lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream
Cook’s notes: If desired, you can also add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract along with the vanilla.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir 6 tablespoons butter, brown sugar and honey in heavy-bottomed, medium-sized saucepan over low heat. When the butter melts, whisk on low heat to blend in the sugar and honey; it should form a thick, smooth sauce. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Tilt pan to cover surface with the mixture. Arrange nectarine wedges in overlapping concentric circles atop sauce, starting next to the side of the pan.
2. With a whisk, mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl.
3. Using electric mixer, beat remaining 6 tablespoons butter in large bowl until light and smooth. Add sugar and beat until creamy. Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, mixing just until blended. Spoon batter evenly over nectarine.

(I think it is easiest to drop generous spoonfuls of batter in a single layer over fruit – then smooth it out with a dinner knife or metal frosting spatula – that way the fruit isn’t disturbed.)
4. Bake cake until golden and tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean,   65 to 70 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool in pan 30 minutes.
5. Using knife, cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Place platter atop cake pan. Using oven mitts or pot holders as aid, firmly grasp pan and platter together, then turn over. Let stand 5 minutes, then gently lift pan off cake. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.
Nutrition information (per serving): 325 calories, 48 percent of calories from fat, 17 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 51 mg cholesterol, 30 g carbohydrates, 12 g protein, 547 mg sodium, 2.1 g fiber
Source: adapted from Gourmet magazine

Apple Pecan Upside-Down Pie
Yield: 10 servings
1 package refrigerated pie crusts (2 crusts for a 9-inch pie), such as Pillsbury Pie Crusts, 14.1 ounces
Topping:
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
Filling:
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
5 large tart green apples, such as Granny Smiths, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle into bottom of a 10-inch pie pan, spreading it out as evenly as possible. Cover with 1 sheet of pie crust. Push it down gently to form a pie-shaped bowl.
3. Toss filling ingredients together and place on top of bottom crust. Place top crust on filling. Press edges together to seal. Turn small portion of edge over toward the center of pie to reinforce the seamMake an aluminum-foil “house” for the pie (using a large piece of foil, fold over sides to make a nest that is bigger than the pie pan to catch any juices that may escape from pie pan – it probably won’t happen, but is a good precaution just in case.)
4. Bake pie on aluminum foil “house” in preheated oven for 75 minutes. Place on cooling rack for 7 minutes. Place platter or plate atop pan. Using oven mitts or pot holders as aid, firmly grasp pan and platter together, then turn over. Cautiously and slowly lift pan off pie, starting by gently and gradually lifting one side. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.
Nutrition information (per serving): 497 calories, 52 percent of calories from fat, 28 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 48 mg cholesterol, 40 g carbohydrates, 20 g protein, 612 mg sodium, 0.9 g fiber

Melted butter mixed with brown sugar and nuts goes in first.

Place crust over sugar mixture and fill with apple mixture.

Add top crust and press edges together to seal. Roll edge of crust over to completely seal.

 

 

 

 

 

Build an aluminum foil “house” around pie (it doesn’t enclose the pie in any way, just makes kind of a tray to catch any drips). There are seldom any drips. But just in case.

Plum-Blueberry Upside-Down Cake
Yield: 8 servings
Topping:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, unsalted preferred
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
4 plums, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch wedges, see cook’s notes
1 cup fresh blueberries
Cake:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, preferably unsalted, room temperature, see cook’s notes
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (whole or 2 percent) milk
For serving: vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream
Cook’s notes: With some plum varieties it is very difficult to remove the pit.  I think it is easiest to cut the plums into wedges is by leaving the pit intact and cautiously cutting towards the pit with a small knife; when the knife hits the pit, turn it so it is parallel with the pit to cut the base away from the pit. You end up with prettier wedges this way. When I was baking for the photographs, I accidentally added a whole stick of butter to the batter, rather than a half stick. The increased butter made a lighter, more cake-like base, rather than one that is dryer and more biscuit-like. Either way it is delicious.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare topping: Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan over low heat. Add sugar and whisk until well blended. Pour syrup into a 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch high sides, tilting pan to cover bottom evenly. Lightly press plum wedges into syrup, arranging them like spokes in a wheel, around the edge of the pan. Check to see if all the stems have been removed from the blueberries. Spread berries in the center. (If you like, the dessert can be prepared 3 hours ahead of serving to this point. Let stand at room temperature.)
3. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; stir with a whisk.
4. Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add sugar to butter and beat until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix dry ingredients and milk alternatively into butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Spoon batter over topping (I think it is easiest to drop generous spoon-fulls of batter in a single layer over fruit then smooth it out with a dinner knife or metal frosting spatula – that way the fruit isn’t disturbed.)
5. Bake cake until top is golden and firm and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes on cooling rack. Run a small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Place platter over pan (there will be some juices that escape, so choose a plate or platter with a lip). Using oven mitts or pot holders as aid, firmly grasp pan and platter together, then turn over. Let stand 3 minutes, then gently lift pan off cake. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.
Nutrition information (per serving): 350 calories, 47 percent of calories from fat, 18 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 49 mg cholesterol, 40 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 642 mg sodium, 2 g fiber
Source: adapted from “Bon Appetit Desserts” by Barbara Fairchild (Andrews McMeel, $40)

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply