Happy Labour Day!
Summer is not quite over yet, so I'm taking advantage of all the flavourful fruit still available, as well as the bit of free time before we switch gears into the fall/winter madness.
This blueberry upside-down cake is adapted from by Bettina Schorman, from her cookbook co-authored with chef Jeff Crump: Earth to Table: Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm.
The recipe there is excellent, except that it’s sweetness of way over the top to my taste (and I have a sweet tooth, believe me!). I felt a deep urge to not only reduce the sugar and substitute it for honey in the glaze for the fruit; but also add lemon zest to balance the fruit’s sweetness. Also serving with crème fraiche makes all the difference!
For the blueberry & glaze:
In a 10” cast iron skillet or cast iron pan, melt 3 TBS each of butter and bluberry honey (or any local honey of your choice). Cover with 2-3 cups of fresh blueberries (you want to create about an inch-deep layer of berries at the bottom of your pan). I personally do not own a skillet but simply a cast iron frying pan; so for this recipe – I need to muster to the task my smaller frying pan (7”) as well and divide the recipe between the two.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
In the meantime, put together the ingredients for the cornmeal batter:
1cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
¾ cup raw cane sugar
zest from 1 lemon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups all purpose unbleached flour (preferably organic)
¾ cup purple cornmeal (yellow will do just fine too; but will affect the colour)
1TBS baking powder
½ tsp sea salt
¾ cup buttermilk
Sift together the dry ingredients.
Beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add vanilla extract and eggs – one at a time.
Pour over the flour mixture. Continue beating. Add buttermilk. Pour over blueberries and bake in the pre-heated oven for 30-50min, or until a toothpick (or a cake tester) comes out clean.
Remove cake from oven once ready, and wait 10-15 minutes to slightly cool off. Run a knife around the edges of the cake. While cake is still warm, invert it on top of a plate, tray or cake case.
Serve warm or at room temperature, alone or with a spoonful of crème fraiche.
There is something to be said about fruit desserts. They are the best, in my humble opinion – where the pastry is there solely to present the fruit and highlight its elegance and singularity. In this one the cornmeal adds an interesting colour (you will get a beautifully bright yellow, which will contrast nicely with the purple bluebberries as well) - but most importantly, a slightly crunchy and sandy texture; and a delicious, rustic yet delicately sweet flavour of polenta. Admittedly, sometimes I feel that cheesecakes and anything vanilla flavoured are the best. If you serve this with crème fresh or crème chantilly (vanilla flavoured whipped cream) – you get the best of both worlds, which to me is as perfect as dessert can be.