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DRIED CHERRY UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

It doesn't get better than this dessert,

  • 2 cups dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup dark Jamaican rum (we used Montecristo Rum from Guatemala)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 cup walnut or pecan halves (we used pecans)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unsifted cake flour
  • Unsweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cover the cherries (we used 1 1/2 cups, but 1 cup would be enough for our tastes) with 2 cups of very hot tap water, and let stand 45 minutes. Drain, pressing gently; the cherries should seem plump and moist but not sodden. Return the cherries to their soaking bowl and add the rum; stir. Let stand for 30 to 60 minutes, stirring several times.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet. (We did this in the oven as it was preheating.) (You could probably make it in a round casserole dish, too.) Remove from the heat and stir in the brown sugar. Sprinkle the cherries and their liquid on top, making a fairly even layer, then distribute the nuts over the cherries, pressing them down lightly. Sprinkle with cinnamon and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup of butter and salt for 3 minutes at high speed. Add the confectioners' sugar gradually and beat 3 minutes longer. Add the egg yolks one at a time, and beat for 2 full minutes longer after the last has gone in. Add the whole egg and vanilla, and beat only until the mixture looks smooth and creamy. Sprinkle or sift the flour on top and fold it in gently.

Spread the cake batter (note that it contains neither baking powder nor baking soda) evenly over the cherries, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is browned and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake stand for 3 minutes after removing from the oven, then run a knife around the sides and invert onto a serving platter. (This is best as a two-person job, as the pan is quite heavy and cumbersome.)

Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream on the side.

"Heartland: The Best of the Old and New From Midwest Kitchens," in Patty LaNoue Stearns' "Cherry Home Companion"

Thursday, February 20, 2003

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