Saturday, 8 June 2013

Mixed berry & honey upside down cake

Upside down cakes have always been one of my favourites. I trace the fascination back to when I first laid eyes on the classic pineapple and glace cherry combo in my year 8 home economics class. I can't even recall the taste of that cake and I'm guessing it's because I never even tried it. I blame the glace cherries. I've never been much of fan of those sickly sweet, squeaky textured little red and green balls. It must be genetic. Every year for Christmas and Easter our Nonna makes these little round cinnamon biscuits which she decorates with a glace cherry in each centre. Everyone in our family picks off the cherry and yet she insists on continuing to use them as decoration because...wait for it..." it looks good for the visitors." I admit she does have a point. It's probably the reason why they were included in the classic pineapple upside down cake and perhaps the reason behind my love of upside down cakes. It's all about appearance. There's something magical each time you turn over the tin. It's the surprise of what lies underneath. Something shiny, glossy and simply gorgeous. And that's why I don't think I could ever get sick of upside down cakes, unless of course they are adorned with glace fruit.

This particular cake is no exception. While it bakes, it fills the house with the comforting aroma of honey.  The cake itself has a soft, moist crumb which is neither oily, nor too sweet, and the berries are a great match for the prominent honey flavour. Just the right accompaniment to a cup of tea.

Mixed berry & honey upside down cake
Adapted from a caramelised apple upside down cake featured in Food, Heart, Life, a Unilever Australia Ltd. publication.

2 tablespoons of jam (I used plum conserve)
A pinch of lemon zest
The juice of 1/2 a small lemon
1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries (I used raspberries/blueberries/blackberries)

60g (1/4cup) olive oil spread (or butter softened)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1 cup of self-raising flour, sifted
A pinch of salt (omit if you are using butter)
The juice of half a small lemon
The zest of one small lemon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease the sides of a 20cm round cake tin with butter/olive oil spread and line the base with baking paper.

Spread the jam over the base of the tin. You may have to squash the jam down using the back of a spoon.
Grate the lemon and sprinkle a pinch of the zest over the jam. Reserve the remaining zest for the cake batter.
Squeeze the juice of half a small lemon over the jam.
Arrange the frozen berries over the jam/lemon mixture.

In a bowl use a whisk to mix the olive oil spread/butter, egg, milk and honey. Don't worry if the mixture appears lumpy.
Sift in 1/3 cup of the flour and add the salt, lemon zest and juice. Gently mix using a whisk to remove any lumps.
Use a spatula to fold in the remaining flour.
Using the spatula, dollop the mixture over the berries then gently smooth the mixture so that you have a flat/even layer of batter over the berries.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes or when a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Another trick to check if the cake is done is that it should spring back to the touch.
Cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack before turning out of the tin. This step is important as it allows the berry topping to set.