This is the cake base I use for all upside-down cakes. It's got a nutty flavor and texture from the use of graham flour (though whole wheat pastry flour can be subbed in a pinch). It's perfect with concord grapes, which require a bit of effort to de-seed, but the juicy flavor is beyond worth it. Luckily, the rest of this cake is simple as can be! Recipe adapted from my upcoming book, The Fearless Baker (released October 24th, 2017). —Erin McDowell
one 9-inch cake
(99 g) granulated sugar
(43 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
light brown sugar
(227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
(159 g) light brown sugar
(99 g) granulated sugar
large (113 g) eggs
(5 g) vanilla extract
(120 g) all purpose flour
(113 g) graham flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
Prepare the grapes: Separate the skins of the grapes from the center. Y squeezing them - reserve the center juicy parts in a medium saucepan and the skins in a medium bowl. Put the pan on the stove and , stir In the sugar - bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture breaks down, 4-5 minutes. Strain the juice to remove the seeds. Return the juice to the pot, this time, stirring in the reserved skins. Continue to cook over medium low heat until the mixture thickens to a jam consistency, 35 to 45 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature (the jam will thicken a bit more as it cools).
Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C, with a rack in the middle. Use 43 g / 3 tablespoons of the butter to grease a 9-inch springform or a 9-inch round cake pan with sides at least 3 inches high. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper and grease the paper. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Spread the grape mixture in an even layer over the bottom of the pan and place the pan on the lined baking sheet.
Make the cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter and both sugars on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each one is fully incorporated. Scrape the bowl well. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, graham flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and blend on low speed to combine, then add half of the crème fraiche, mixing to combine. Repeat, alternating the flour mixture and crème fraiche, until all of the ingredients are incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly without disturbing the underlying bed of grapes. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center (but not deeply, or you’ll poke into the juicy jam) comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes.
If you used a springform pan, remove the ring, invert the pan onto a wire rack and, while the cake is still warm, use the spatula to separate the base from the parchment and lift it away from the cake. Or, if you used a cake pan, run a small offset spatula around the outside of the cake and invert the cake onto the rack. Gently pull away the parchment; if any fruit is stuck to it, just pry it off and put it back where it belongs—it’s easy to mash it back on there. Let cool completely.
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.