Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

This recipe came recommended to me a couple years ago from loyal Locavorious member Julie W.  Julie found it in Bon Appetit circa 2008.  Although the recipe calls for pitted sweet cherries, I went ahead and made it with our organic tart cherries from North Star Organics, but I added a couple of peeled diced apples to boost the sweetness.   The balsamic vinegar in this recipe also balances the sweetness of the fruit while enhancing the cherry flavor.  This recipe is one of those chameleon-like cakes – works fine for brunch, or afternoon tea, or dressed up with whipped cream or ice cream for dessert.  Only downside is that you do need a lot of bowls.


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

12 oz whole pitted frozen cherries, no need to thaw

1 or 2 apples peeled, cored and chopped.   (You should have a total of ~ 3 cups of fruit.)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, stone-ground medium grind

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, separated.  Go ahead, use your hands!

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine 1/4 cup butter with brown sugar and vinegar in 10- to 11-inch ovenproof skillet with 2-inch-high sides.  Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes.  Increase heat to high; add cherries and apples and bring to boil.  When fruit is heated through, remove skillet from heat.

Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl. Add sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl.

Clean and dry the beaters.   Yeah, I know it’s a pain.  Beat egg whites in yet another medium size bowl until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff but not dry.   Fold 1/4 of whites into batter at a time, by the last addition, batter will be thick.  Spoon batter over cherries in skillet, then spread evenly with spatula to cover cherries.

Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in skillet on rack 5 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cake to loosen. Place large serving platter upside down atop the skillet. Using pot holders or oven mitts, firmly hold platter and skillet together and invert.  Leave skillet atop cake 5 minutes. Remove skillet.  The cake reveals itself!  If necessary, rearrange any cherries that may have misbehaved.  Let cake cool at least 45 minutes. Cut cake into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

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