Sunday, June 06, 2021

Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Since it's late spring, you can count on posts about the nascent garden and others about using the berries and other fruits of the season. I feel so fortunate to live where we can get locally grown, amazing, juicy, ripe, fresh strawberries, lovely, sweet dark cherries from California, and other spring fruits.


Today's post is about a simple but delicious upside down cake made with fresh strawberries and rhubarb. I just love that combination of fruits! The fruit pieces are topped for baking with a tender sponge cake which soaks up the juices that the fruits release as they bake. I made mine in a 10-inch cast iron skillet, so the cake was fairly thin, but if you make it in a cake pan (especially an 8-inch pan, the cake will be thicker, but there will be a bit less fruit. The baking time is fairly short (20-25 minutes), too, so you can put it together and bake it in about an hour or a little less.

Before I baked this treat, I looked at a lot of upside down cake recipes and didn't really see one that looked like what I wanted, so I then looked at recipes for Victoria Sponge, a British favorite. I was interested to see that many of them used self-rising flour. If you do that, you can make a very straight forward cake using equal weights of soft butter (or margarine), granulated sugar, and self-rising flour, plus eggs. Vanilla can be added, too, or citrus peel if you like, but this time I went with just those four ingredients for the sponge part. I ended up using half of the recipe for Victoria Sponge Cake in a wonderful blog, The Baking Explorer. It really gives the history of the classic Victoria Sponge Cake with jam and cream, topped with a sprinkle of icing sugar (confectioners sugar), plus answers lots of questions you may have and gives variations. Do check it out! HERE Kat writes a really good baking blog.

For the fruit part I used one long stalk of rhubarb plus about a half-pint of strawberries. For the topping (which goes into the pan first), I decided on 4 oz. of margarine, (but use butter if you can), 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon light corn syrup, plus the fresh fruit.

This made a wonderful cake! The cake had a nice crumb and was tender and moist. The fruit juices soaked into the cake along with the butter/sugar topping and it looked pretty since I arranged the fruit pieces in a pattern. With a small scoop of vanilla soy 'ice cream' it made the perfect finish to a lovely lunch with friends. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

recipe by Elle - sponge recipe from The Baking Explorer

Serves 8


4 oz. butter or margarine, melted 
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 long stalk fresh rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut into 1-2-inch pieces
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in half (or sliced if very large)


8 tablespoons or 107 oz. butter or margarine, soft 
107 oz. (about 3/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
107 oz. (about 1 cup) self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter or grease a 8 or 9-inch cake pan, line the bottom with parchment and butter it lightly OR use a seasoned cast iron skillet as is.

Place the melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon corn syrup in the bottom of the pan and stir gently to combine. Place the cut fruit pieces in a nice arrangement on top of the butter mixture. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the butter and sugar and beat until light in color and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. This can be done by hand, with a hand held or stand electric mixer or in a food processor. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated. Scrape beaters (or spoon) and bowl often. Add the flour (and vanilla if using) and beat gently/on low, just until incorporated. If you beat too much you might make the cake tough.

Dollop the batter over the arranged fruit in the pan and use a small offset spatula or the back of a large spoon to smooth the batter into an even layer.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, turning 1/4 turn about half way through the baking time, until golden brown. Center will spring back if lightly depressed with a finger. Sides of cake may be starting to pull away from the pan. As you can see in the photo below, because I used a wide skillet, the batter barely covered the fruit in some places.

Let sit about 2-3 minutes on a wire rack, then cover pan with serving plate and, carefully, turn plate side down. Let the pan sit over the plate a minute, then remove the pan. If any of the fruit stuck to the pan, use a small spatula to scrape it off the pan and return it to the fruit pattern. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature to serve.

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