Is this not the happiest looking bag you’ve ever seen?
But of course it is. Clearly, I decided to add the buttons. I think it was a wise decision.
Do you know what else makes me very happy these days? Besides, of course, the fact that I’m engaged (sorry, I had to throw that in there—it hasn’t gotten old yet)! Cake.
Here’s the weird thing—I really don’t think of myself as a cake person. I’m always preaching about how ice cream is my number one dessert of choice. But take a look at the lovelies that I’ve consumed at various restaurants in the past week or so:
And that doesn’t even include the chocolate cake that Kyle and I fed each other on Saturday night.
Clearly, I have a particular fondness for any cake whose description includes the words ‘warm’ and ‘chocolate,’ thus the first two cakes from Bistro du Midi and Rialto. That misfit is sticky toffee pudding from Hamersley’s Bistro, one of few alternatives that can tear me away from chocolate (and no, I don’t normally eat out this much!)
Upon further reflection, I think the issue isn’t so much the cake itself, but the way that most cakes come: as big old honking rounds that you have to slice into and eat as much as possible of lest they go bad.
(OK, this was a particularly horrendous example that I came across a couple of weeks ago at a super divey diner in New Jersey, but still…)
But give me an individually-sized cake, warm and fresh from the oven—and accompanied by a side of something cool and creamy—and I’m a happy gal.
Another one of my non-chocolate favorites has always been pineapple upside down cake. Baking a cake upside down makes it different in a good way—and since my life has recently been turned upside down, also in a good way, I declared this past week Upside Down Cake Week. The best part is, I used my beloved 2 cup Mario Batali pan to make individually sized cakes which we could eat in one go—therefore enabling me to make a whole new kind of cake the next night, guilt-free!
In order: the classic pineapple upside down cake, banana chocolate chip upside down cake, and strawberry peanut butter upside down cake. The accompaniments, in order: pineapple fool (yes, fool is back!), my homemade banana chocolate ice cream, and Edy’s strawberry ice cream—I may have come to terms with my love of cake, but I still can’t forgo the creamy accompaniment.
The best part of upside down cakes is, of course, the layer of fruit, butter, and brown sugar that caramelizes beautifully while the cake cooks, and ultimately ends up on top once you’ve flipped the cake out of the pan. I used the same basic recipe for all three of these cakes, but tweaked it a tiny bit each time. And, naturally, I used whole wheat flour because you know more theory about whole grains negating caloric content…
Individual Upside Down Cakes
For the topping:
- 1 heaping tablespoon of brown sugar
- 1½ tablespoons melted butter
- Fruit of your choice:
- 2 slices of pineapple
- ½ banana, sliced
- About 4 strawberries, sliced
For the cake
- 3 tablespoons of whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon white sugar
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- ½ small egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon whole milk
- Pineapple: 1 tablespoon of pineapple juice
- Banana: 1 heaping tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Strawberries: 1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter (I melted the peanut butter in the milk before adding it to the flour mixture, and I left out the regular butter)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the topping, melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until it has dissolved slightly. Cover the bottom of a small dish with the butter/sugar mixture (my pans are about 4¾” in diameter), and lay the fruit on top.
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the egg, butter, and whole milk, and any ‘additions’ (pineapple juice, chocolate chips, etc.) and beat until just incorporated. Poor the cake batter over the fruit topping. Cook at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until the cake springs back slightly when touched.
Allow the cake to cool for about 3 minutes before flipping it right-side up.
Tomorrow my fiancé (sorry—last time!) and I are off to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, so we’ve decided to lay low tonight. He has some preliminary business school paperwork to get through, so I will gladly give him the couch and park myself in my new favorite spot. I’m calling it my stitching station:
For some reason, I’m spending lots of time on the floor these days—it’s good for spreading out all of my stuff and having a fellow carpet buddy makes Shuffle a very happy bunny. His new favorite pastime is removing the pins from my pincushion, one by one:
While Kyle is working, I’m planning on a marathon crochet session (yes, I just confessed to a Friday night of ‘marathon crocheting’)…
…and methinks individual apple and almond upside down cakes are in order.