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--Ruth Reichl, Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, June 8 2008, comment on "Chocolate Velvet Ice Cream".

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fresh Apricot Upside-Down Cake

This is what drives me crazy: a recipe that calls for a 10 inch wide, two inch deep skillet. Why? Consider my actions following....

I regard our ten-inch skillet. It's only one inch deep, maybe slightly more, and it's ten inches at the TOP, more like eight inches at the bottom. I reject it.

I regard our big skillet, and decide to use it. It's bigger than ten inches though, more like twelve inches, or maybe even fourteen. There won't be enough cake batter to spread across the bottom, and besides, the cake is only for seven people. I reject it.

I regard the ten inch skillet again. I decide to use it. I look at the recipe. I realize that if I want to fit all those apricots AND the cake in the skillet, it will overflow. I reject it.

I regard the big skillet again. I look for a tape measure or a ruler. I can't find one. I hold my forearm over it (as if I know how long my forearm is) and decide that it's definitely at least a foot. It will be too big. I reject it.

I look for other skillets. I find a saute pan. It's exactly the same size and shape as the ten-inch skillet. No.

I consider a pie plate, but I worry that it will crack on the stove top in the butter and sugar melting part at the beginning.

I consider a soup pot, which is ten inches wide and certainly more than two inches deep. It's perfect except that it's too deep and I worry that a) the cake will steam b) when I flip it over onto a plate after cooking it will fall unevenly and disastrously, thus ruining the whole point of it.

I decide to go with the soup pot anyway. But then I notice the four rivety things on the inside where the handles are and worry that the cake will catch on them on the way down.

I look at our other soup pot. It only has two rivety things. It's also made of some kind of non-stick stuff. I decide to use it.

Time? Less than fifteen minutes. Time in my head? Endless. An eternity of indecision.

Well, and how did it turn out, you might be wondering?

OK, the cake drop didn't go perfectly, but it didn't go disastrously. It went pretty much like any upside-down cake, which is that some of the fruit doesn't come off and you have to re-stick it and make it pretty.

The other thing that happened that I wasn't anticipating is that the apricots cooked themselves basically into mush (a wonder since they were not exactly perfectly ripe to begin with). Could it be because I used a dark colored pot? It does make a difference, for reasons I don't understand. But a cast-iron skillet is dark too, so...I don't know.

Anyway, the apricots were formless, so I just used my fingers to kind of spread the pretty colored fruit pulp around. Then I got anxious that it wasn't pretty enough and I sliced a nectarine into wedges and arranged it in a circular fan on top. THAT looked pretty.

The other thing I was a little worried about was (again) the apricots I used. As I said, they weren't perfectly ripe, really only about half-ripe. Would they be too tart?

No worries--the tartness in the finished product was really refreshing against the caramel and the sweetness of the cake. Actually, it was a big hit with my book group, and I don't think it was because we had had six bottles of wine by then (at least I hope not).


Karen said...

Hi Melissa! I have recently found your blog and have been enjoying it. :-)

I have a Le Creuset Tarte Tatin pan that looks like it would be perfect for this.


Melissa Bach Palladino said...

That DOES look perfect! Thanks for pointing it out! And I'm glad you're enjoying the blog--I have a ridiculous amount of fun with it.

I stopped over at your blog as well--you make pretty plates! I'm going to add it to my reader--it'll be fun to follow along.