Upside-Down Ring-Around-A-Rosy Spring Fruit
The cake's sweetness is an ideal contrast to the
natural tang of strawberries and rhubarb. An optional decoration is
to brush the inverted cake with a thin layer of warm red currant
jelly. If desired, accompany each serving with a dollop of sweetened
whipped cream or creme fraiche.
9 to 10 medium-size strawberries, washed, hulled and halved
5 to 6 large strawberries, washed and hulled
1 to 2 stalks of rhubarb, washed and cut into 1/4-inch slices to
yield 1 cup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons unsifted cake flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal + cornmeal for coating pan (see Note)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
Adjust rack to lower third of oven; preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 10 1/4-inch ring mold pan; dust pan with cornmeal, tap out
excess. Line the bottom of the pan with a band of parchment or wax
Fruit: Arrange the strawberry halves, close
together, rounded-side-down, on the parchment. Halve the 5 to 6
strawberries lengthwise and cut each half into thirds to yield 1 cup
Put the strawberry wedges in a small bowl, add the rhubarb slices
and toss gently with your fingertips. Add the melted butter and,
using a rubber spatula, gently toss to coat. Add the sugar and toss
just to coat. Scatter over the strawberry halves; set pan nearby.
Cake: For best results, have all ingredients at room temperature.
Sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; set
Using an electric mixer, preferably with a paddle attachment, cream
the butter at medium speed until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar
and beat until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well
after each addition. (It's OK if the mixture appears curdled.) Add
the orange zest and vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, beating just until
well blended. Spoon the batter into the pan, and spread it evenly.
Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake springs back when
pressed lightly on top and a wooden toothpick comes out free of
batter. (The cake cracks a bit on top.) Remove from oven and let
cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.
Then, using oven mitts, gently tilt the pan to loosen cake from
sides. Invert the cake onto a serving plate; let stand for 2 minutes
before removing the pan. Carefully remove the parchment liner.
Serves 10 to 12
Note: Use an off-the-shelf box variety of cornmeal found in
Variation: For a 9 x 5 x 2 3/4-inch loaf cake. Proceed as directed
above with the following differences.
-- Set a parchment or wax paper liner in the bottom of the pan.
-- Bake for 52 to 55 minutes, or until the cake tests done. (It's
natural for this loaf cake to crack a bit on top before it finishes