While upside-down cake shouts good times, it also invites thoughts of panic about 'the moment' of turning said cake on its head, and brings to mind the need for specialty baking pans, which you probably don't own and would have to run out and buy in order to make it.
Stop. Stay where you are. All you need to bake this cake is… a frying pan. That’s right, gyrate on into the kitchen and whip out your skillet. It’s baking time.
I made this cake for the first time to serve to guests — a daredevil move I generally advise against — and was wowed by how simple it turned over, and turned out to be.
This recipe is also an excellent foray into baking with rhubarb. Rhubarb is in season and the long stalks can been seen stretching out all over greengrocers and markets of the farmer and super variety. The stalks range in colour from dark pink to light green (I point this out to allay fears in anyone who saw the photo and thought I baked a celery cake) and the hue doesn't affect the taste. If, like me, you don’t like your desserts super sweet, the mellow tartness of rhubarb is an ideal starring ingredient.
Upside-Down Rhubarb Cake
Adapted from: Desserts: Over 200 Classic Recipes from Around the World
At first glance this book appears one you’d pass up — it looks glossy in a generic way, there’s no known chef attached, and it’s published by the rather staid Reader’s Digest. I received it as a gift and have been impressed by the recipes I’ve made so far, and appreciate the clear instructions and multitude of photos. Choosing an international trio of authors makes sense for a book promising recipes from around the world. The recipe quantities are even given in metric and imperial figures.
The book's introduction asks: “Have you ever wished you could wave a magic wand at the end of a meal and produce the perfect apple pie...?"
Disney-style magic isn’t going to get this done for you, but some basic ingredients, a frying pan, and a little Diana Ross playing in the background sure will.
1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter
1 cup (200g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
12 ounces (350g) trimmed rhubarb stalks, cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) pieces
1 1/3 cups (200g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup (180ml) buttermilk
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (90ml) vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (essence)
2 tablespoons candied ginger, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350F (180C/gas 4). Over medium heat, melt the butter in a frying pan (recipe advises using a 9.5 inch/24 cm pan but I used an 11 inch pan and was happy with the results. Make sure the pan is overproof, including the handle).
Stir in the ground ginger and 1/2 cup (100g) of the brown sugar, stirring constantly as this mix cooks for a few minutes. Take off the heat and topple the chopped rhubarb on top of this carmelised goodness making sure it’s somewhat evenly distributed.
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another bowl use an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk to beat together the remaining brown sugar with the buttermilk, sour cream, eggs, oil, and vanilla extract, then stir in the candied ginger. Beat in the flour mix, on low speed, until thoroughly combined.
Pour the cake mix on top of the frying pan ingredients, and smooth out the surface.
Pop the frying pan into the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes. It’s ready when the cake is golden brown and feels springy when you touch the center. Cool for 10 minutes.
Now for the exhilarating part! Run a knife around the edge of the cake. Place a big plate, or dish on top, making sure it covers the entire pan well. Now quickly flip the pan over. Et voila, your cake is upside down, and the glimmering rhubarb and brown sugar glaze is on show. Delicious served warm with ice cream or if left to cool, with a dollop of whipped cream.
Love your Leftovers: The stickiness of this cake keeps it from drying out. Place in an air tight container or under a cake dome and enjoy it for a few days.