Friday, January 02, 2009

Sweet Thing

It may be January and the tradition in January may be to go on a diet if you think you need to, but January is cold and wet, too. Sometimes you need a little sweetness.

This cake is a simple one, one layer, not too much, just enough. It is a variation on Pineapple Upside Down Cake, but the fruit is raspberries, the glaze has not a speck of brown sugar, and the addition of sliced almonds add some needed crunch. The special ingredient, besides the raspberries, is Meyer lemon zest and juice. A small slice goes well with a cup of tea or coffee and brightens the day.

The two lovely ladies who gifted me with raspberries and Meyer lemons know who they are...thank you! Without your gifts this cake would not have been as special.

Forgot to mention that it wasn't just raspberries, but a wonderful gift of golden and red raspberries . We ate some fresh with our daily bowl of fruit, but I wanted to bake with some of them, too.

It’s easy to find all kinds of recipes that use a lot of raspberries, but hard to find any perfect for a limited number of berries, so I adapted an upside-down cake recipe, taking away the brown sugar, pineapple, cherries and walnuts and replacing them with the raspberries set into a glaze made of butter, sugar and Meyer lemon juice, with just a little lemon peel thrown in. Between the berries, I scattered sliced almonds. Some more lemon zest went into the cake batter.

The cake was changed, too. I soured some milk with more Meyer lemon juice instead of using buttermilk. I added ½ cup of almond meal and some baking powder, too. So, really, this is an original recipe.

Since I looked at over ½ dozen pineapple upside down cake recipes, I’m not really sure which one I used, but it seems closest to the one in Baking in America by Greg Patent.

It turned out to be a beautiful cake. The raspberries became almost a jam, the cake was very light and flavorful. You could taste the lemon but it was not overpowering. The almonds added texture.

The only problem I encountered was that the cake was less dense than many upside down cakes and it was difficult to remove from the pan in one piece. Lots of the topping stuck to the pan, too.

If looks matter (I scooped what stuck up with a spatula and put them back on the cake, but it wasn’t as pretty as it could have been), melt a little raspberry jam to spread over the rough patches. If I had let it cool longer, the cake would have come out better, but the topping would have stuck even more. Difficult call.

Raspberry Almond Meyer Lemon Upside Down Cake

The Glaze
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup lemon juice
The Fruit and Nuts
1 pint raspberries
about ¼ cup sliced almonds…use more if you like

The Batter
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup almond meal
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup milk
¼ cup lemon juice
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs at room temperature

To Make the Cake:
The Glaze
On the bottom of a heavy bottomed shallow pan (9 or 10 inches in diameter) or cast iron skillet, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar and turn off the heat. Stir to begin dissolving the sugar. Then add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Sprinkle the lemon zest over the mixture, then stir in. Set aside to cool.

The Fruit and Nuts
Once the mixture has cooled, carefully place fresh raspberries (that have been washed and gently dried) over the surface of the glaze mixture, spacing them as evenly as possible. Scatter the sliced almonds between the berries onto the glaze. I used my fingers to get them onto the glaze. Set aside.

The Batter
In a bowl or on a piece of waxed paper, put the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt. Sift or stir together with your hands. Use your hands to mix in the ground almonds and lemon zest. Set aside.

Put the milk and lemon juice together in a non-reactive container and let it thicken. Set aside.
Use a mixer to beat the butter at least a minute until very light and creamy. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and beat until combined. Add the vanilla. Beat until combined. Add another ¼ cup sugar, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl and beaters between additions.

Add one third of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beating at medium speed just until combined. Add half the milk mixture, beating at medium speed just until combined. Add another third of the dry ingredients, beating as before, the rest of the milk mixture, beating as before, then the last of the dry ingredients, beating just until mixed. Use a spatula to incorporate any flour remaining on the side of the bowl. Pour the batter over the prepared glaze and fruit and place pan in a preheated 350 degree F oven. Bake about 40 minutes, until the cake is done, springing back when center is pushed.

Let cool 5 minutes, then invert over a rimmed plate or platter. If any of the fruit or glaze remains in the pan, gently remove it with an offset spatula and place back on the top of the upside-down cake.

Serve warm or cool. Good with a scoop of raspberry sorbet. Serves 8.


  1. This will brighten up anyone's day in dreary January!

  2. Ooh!
    We've had a request this week to recreate an old-fashioned upside down cake, "like my mother made" for a friend of ours in his sixties -- but we'll definitely save your yummy almond meal variation for when we make it for ourselves! Raspberries! Ooh! I'm wondering how it would go with lingonberries...

  3. Peabidy, So true!

    TadMack, Hope you are feeling better and back to baking :) This would be great with lingonberries, but, like cranberries, they are pretty sour, so be sure to increase the sugar or honey, especially in the topping. Happy New Year!