Do you obsess over cherries each summer? From the first shiny piles of Bings, to the sunshine glow of Ranier, and the tart smack of Montmorency sour cherries, it is one of my favorite fruits. I get a little sad as the summer wanes and the cherry displays get smaller and smaller. One of my favorite ways to use those tart cherries, and to stretch the season by using the bruised and overripe cherries in those last few bags, is to make an upside down cake.
I originally discovered this recipe by Smitten Kitchen, but have made some of my own adjustments over the years. This is a dense and moist cake. The addition of the almond meal helps to bolster the cherries' natural flavor. The date syrup gives the cake a rich, caramel finish that's balance by the tart bite of the Fire Cider. It's easy to make this cake vegan friendly with some simple ingredient replacements listed below.
Cherry Upside-Down Cake - serves 12
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp unsalted butter (or Earth Balance), room temperature, divided
2/3 cup + 1 tbsp Date Lady date syrup, divided
2 tsp Fire Cider Unsweetened
3 cups pitted and halved, fresh cherries
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, separated (or your favorite egg replacement, have you tried aquafaba for the egg whites?)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk (almond or soy milk work as well)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat to 350°F.
1 - Combine 1 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp date syrup and Fire Cider in 10" cast iron skillet with at least 2-inch-high sides. Stir over medium heat until butter melts, about 1 minutes. Increase heat to high; add cherries and bring to boil. Remove from heat.
2 - Whisk flour, almond meal, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together. In a separate bowl combine remaining butter and date syrup. Beat until well combined. Add in egg yolks and vanilla and beat till just incorporated. Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2-3 portions each, beating just until blended.
3 - In a separate, clean bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of whites into batter at a time until just incorporated. Spoon batter over cherries in skillet, then spread evenly to cover.
4 - Bake until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in skillet on rack 5 minutes. Run spatula around edges of cake to loosen. Place large serving plate upside down on the skillet. Using pot holders or oven mitts, firmly hold platter and skillet together and invert. Leave skillet atop cake 5 minutes. Remove skillet. Let cake cool for 45 minutes.
This cake is so dense and rich it really doesn't need much in the way of accompanyment, maybe a small dollop of whipped cream, or a tiny scoop of fresh vanilla ice cream.