You can put anything in an upside-down cake. So why not acorn squash? They are readily available, have an edible peel, are easier to cut than other squashes, and most importantly, look so pretty when sliced! You may be concerned that acorn squashes aren’t sweet enough for a cake. Don’t worry. You’ll be adding sugar.
This recipe is an adaptation of Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 12th edition. The other change here is the use of brown butter, which adds a toasty complexity to the cake. For a video on browning butter, watch https://food52.com/blog.... —Susan Liem
Ingredients for the top-bottom caramel
small acorn squash
unsalted butter, melted
packed brown sugar
Ingredients for the cake
unsalted butter (Only ¼ cup will be used. See Step 1)
Start with the 6 tablespoons of butter. You will lose some volume during water evaporation. Melt the butter in a small pan or saucepan over medium-low heat. Don't use a nonstick pan--the black bottom will prevent you from seeing the important color change. As the butter heats, it will smell toasty, and you will see darkened bits forming at the bottom. Those are the flavorful milk solids. Once the liquid turns brown, take the butter off the heat and measure out ¼ cup in a heatproof measuring cup. Set aside to cool. (If the milk solids are black, or it smells burnt, you’ve gone too far and need to start over.)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8” x 8” baking pan.
Slice acorn squash crosswise (i.e. not through the stem) into ½” inch rings.
To make the caramel, add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and water to the baking pan and stir till mixed and sugar is dissolved. Decoratively arrange the squash rings in the pan. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl stir together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, the ¼ cup of browned butter, egg, and vanilla extract. (Be sure to scrape in as much of the toasted milk solids as possible from the butter. They have A LOT of flavor.) Mix till combined.
Gently pour or spoon batter over squash in the prepared pan. Be careful not to disturb your arrangement. It may seem that there is not enough batter, but it will rise during baking.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The color will be pale golden. Cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the pan to unstick the cake. Invert onto a plate. Enjoy warm.