Squeezing in one last fall recipe to close the end of November here 😊. Classic pineapple upside down cake is a rather summer-y affair, with caramelized golden pineapples dotted with bright red maraschino cherries swimming in a pool of butter and anchored to fluffy white cake. I kept the generous helping of butter but subbed pineapples for deep orange persimmons and instead of fluffy white cake you have a dense cornmeal crumb. It’s hearty and with a hint of spice from cloves, perfect to eat with a scoop of ice cream while watching the last ochre leaves fall from trees and leave bare branches. Or if you live in San Diego for trees to look the same always but you can sometimes wear that leather jacket you bought two years ago (only at night though).
Not so related to upside down cakes, I spent Thanksgiving break with my sister in New York and although I don’t lug my DSLR around everywhere when I go to New York anymore, I did sneak in some pictures of Central Park and a short walk around the Upper East Side. Turns out the Frick is closed on Mondays so I decided to not let the trip uptown go to waste and go join all the other camera-yielding tourists in Central Park capturing the last neon yellow, deep maroon and brick red splashes of fall. I think they match this persimmon cake a bit better than images of what’s going on around here, namely pictures of palm trees with slightly more clouds in the sky than usual.
And even less related to upside down cakes, if you haven’t been the Frick in New York is lovely and timeless and quiet. It seems that the more recent generation of museums and big art galleries – The Broad in LA, the new Whitney, the New Museum, the Gagosians of the world, etc. – are really, really geared towards Instagram. You go not to experience art but to get really good grams/Snapchats (not excusing myself here, definitelyyy guilty of this). It’s not all bad as I imagine the amount of people, especially younger people, who attends museums has significantly increased and I support supporting art in general. But you can’t help but think this begets a cycle of Instagrammable-art becoming very popular and more artists then gearing their art towards Instagrammability. The invention of film cameras essentially ushered in the advent of more abstract art that was not just a faithfully realistic depiction of reality. The invention of social media appears to be ushering in the advent of art that is primarily composed of blinking lights. So somewhere like the Frick, with it’s cozy dark rooms, moss green carpet, dark wood panelled walls, and oil painting of ships and portraits with classic gilded frames feels like a true respite from the long lines, bright white walls, pithy neon signs, oversized sculptures and saturated colours from the museums and galleries that are populating your respective feeds.
I have no idea how I embarked on this art rant. So upside down cake guys:
PERSIMMON CORNMEAL UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
Makes one 11-inch cake
Brown Sugar Glaze:
- 1/3 cup of butter
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup of coarse corn meal (like this one)
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- generous pinch of ground cloves
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 5-6 (about 1 pound) persimmons
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 10-12inch cast iron pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl add all the glaze ingredients, microwave for 1 minute or so until the butter is completely melted, and stir to incorporate. Pour into the bottom of the parchment lined pan and let cool.
- For the cake cream the butter and sugar using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer.
- Meanwhile stir together the cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
- In a measuring cup with a spout, whisk together the yogurt, milk and apple cider vinegar until mixed well.
- Once the butter and sugar are creamed add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Next add the vanilla.
- Add about 1/2 of the flour mixture, then add 1/2 the milk and yogurt mixture, followed by another another half of the flour, and then the remaining milk and yogurt.
- Arrange the persimmons on the bottom of the prepared cast iron pan. I like them whole for presentation and so that the cornmeal cake itself gets caramelized but for a more traditional take they can be sliced thinly and fanned out across the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the batter over the persimmons, gently smoothing it out without disturbing the fruit.
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with no uncooked batter stuck to it.
- Let cool (but not completely) in the pan, run a knife around the edge to unstick and quickly invert the cake onto a serving plate. Note that if you use whole persimmons the cake falls apart more easily and needs to be inverted directly onto the serving plate and likely cannot be transferred to another plate from that one without splitting.
- Best eaten warm with a scoop of ice cream.
As I mentioned in the recipe I like using whole persimmons for the presentation and for the fact that you get a lovely caramelized, crispy cornmeal crust. But if you want to go more traditional you could slice the persimmons and fan them out across the top of the cake. I used Fuyu persimmons because that’s what I had on hand but actually prefer it with Hachiya persimmons because Hachiya >>> Fuyu in every way (for me anyways). This is such a rustic butter-y cake and if you don’t have or don’t like persimmons it would be lovely with other fruit as well.
And now that I have cleared my cache of fall pictures (see the last post too) we can move on to the holidays! Have some veryyyy festive fancy French toast and dessert cheese board coming your way soon :)