"Suggestible" is not strong enough to describe how I am about food. If someone mentions anything (ice cream, hot dogs, cake, even steamed broccoli), I get hungry for it, and this has only gotten worse over the last several months. About six weeks ago, I read the latest Stephanie Plum book by Janet Evanovich -- I have to mentally prepare myself for the onslaught of food suggestions when I read those books (fried chicken, peanut butter, Cheetos, birthday cake and always pineapple upside-down cake -- but never cabbage rolls), and even though I've never had pineapple upside-down cake, I always come away from that series craving pineapple upside-down cake.
But strawberries are in season right now. I try to eat as seasonally as possible, which usually means gluttony in the spring and summer as I consume as much as I can of fresh, ripe vegetables and fruits before they go away for winter. In the middle of my pineapple cake craving, I was hit with a new one -- one for strawberry upside-down cake. I've never had it, either -- I've never even heard of it. So I took a pineapple cake recipe from Joy of Baking and with a few modifications and some advice from my mom, came up with this rich, delicious cake.
Strawberry Upside-Down Cake
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) (55 grams) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (160 grams) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (160 grams) white sugar
approx. 2 cups sliced strawberries
dark chocolate chips or pieces (I used ghiradelli 100% cacao chips -- the cake is so sweet, you want to go as dark as you can with the chocolate)
1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a non stick vegetable spray) a 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pan.
Place the butter and white and brown sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the sugar starts to caramelize, but do not stir! This will crystallize your sugar and you'll have to start over (trust me on this one). Then remove from heat, and pour into your prepared cake pan. Evenly arrange the fresh strawberry slices and chocolate on the bottom of the pan.
I only put chocolate on half the cake, since this was an experiment. Next time it's all getting chocolate.
In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture (in three additions), alternately with the milk (in two additions), ending with the dry ingredients.
In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar just until the whites hold a firm peak. With a large spatula gently fold the beaten egg whites into the cake batter in two additions. Pour the batter into the cake pan, smoothing the top.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 - 55 minutes, or until the top of the cake has browned and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan (a toothpick inserted into the cake -- not the strawberries -- will come out clean). Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and then invert the cake onto your serving plate.
Serve with softly whipped cream.