Cherry Upside Down Cake


This is not a pretty cake on first glance. The moment the cherry upside down cake is freed from its pan, the only pretty it could be considered is pretty awful looking. My first thought was “oh my, how am I going to photograph that??” The cherries are all gooped up into a very moist crumble that looks, well, like something you don’t want to eat.

But dig a little deeper, and you’ll find the beauty within. All it takes is a little slice to turn reveal the cherries nestled in a nicely crumbed and moist Génoise cake. And, of course, one bite will seal the deal. No worries about the sponge on this cake being to dry. There is plenty of luscious, cherry goodness oozing it’s way into each spoonful.

Now, for a little backstory. Maybe you’ve been wondering where I’ve been. Certainly, I have not come close to living up to my tag-line, “My Food, Almost Daily.” June has simply been a whirlwind… after Boston, there was an assignment out in Yakima for a local publication on the fruit orchards currently oh-so-ripe with fresh cherries, a weekend in San Francisco where I got to meet Heidi (!!!!!) while shooting and touring the Marin County Farmers Market, and then back home where I’ve been busily on assignment for a certain Tom of Crab Cake fame. Each of these little trips and assignments has been leading me up to this cake.

A bag of tree-fresh cherries of course came home from Eastern Washington…

…a trip to Tartine Bakery in SF, where Heidi patiently waited with me in a line down the block just so I could try one of the to die-for croissants. Of course, the visit had me itching to make something from that cookbook once again…

…and Dahlia Bakery is where I picked up the gorgeous red cake plate. It has been sitting there, staring at me, waiting to be used.

The choice to make a Génoise as the base for this cake might seem a bit strange, but I had such success with the Chiffon recipe that I decided to give it a go. I had read all sorts of things about how hard it is to make the Génoise be both light and not too dry all at the same time. I suppose it was a bit risky, but I really wanted a lighter cake to let the cherries be the focus, and the Génoise worked great for that despite the extra complications of making a foam based cake.

As I typically do, I made a half recipe of the cake, and used a 5 x 4 inch rectangular ceramic baking pan, so if you are making this recipe in a normal 9 or 10 inch spring form pan, increase the cherries, etc. Since I didn’t change the cake recipe at all, I’m not going to reprint its recipe… trust me, the Tartine book is worth it.

PS: Sorry if you’ve come to the site and it has lost all of its graphical goodness. There is some weird bug with WordPress that resets the site to the default theme. I’m working on figuring out what the problem is, so just bear with me until then…

Cherry Upside Down Cake
makes one 5 inch cake

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1 t dried orange zest
1 t sugar
a sprinkling of cardamom
Génoise cake batter, 1/2 recipe
powdered sugar to dust, if desired

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line a 5 inch round or 5 x 4 inch rectangular baking pan with the pitted cherries. Sprinkle with the orange zest, sugar and cardamom. Set aside.

Prepare the cake batter. Once folded all together, pour about 1 cup over the cherries, and give them a little stir to prevent air pockets from forming. Top with the remaining batter.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until the cake bounces back when lightly touched. Let it cool on a wire rack.

Use a knife to cut around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan. You may need to use a flexible spatula to loosen the bottom some to help remove it. Place the serving plate on top of the baking pan, and then flip the whole thing over.

To improve this cakes appearance for serving, trim off the edges of the cake, exposing the golden-yellow sponge and the piece of cherry. Dust with the powdered sugar if desired.

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0 thoughts on “Cherry Upside Down Cake

  1. The red cake stand is gorgeous, and the upside down cake itself – at least the slice of it – looks perfect. Imported Hungarian cherries have come to the market here in Estonia as well now (local ones will be here in a month or so), and we’ve been enjoying them in cakes and making jam. Will bookmark your version, too, thanks!

  2. I recently made a cherry upside down cake too and I must say your cake looks far better than mine! I used an ordinary butter cake base but the Génoise looks wonderful. The addition of orange zest and cardamom sounds like a great idea if I were to make it again because I had some problems with the cake being sweet but bland, if you know what I mean. I was thinking though, do you really sprinkle the sugar, zest, butter and cardamom after you line the cherries or vice versa?

  3. I just love the ‘half a cake’ idea. I work hard to make the recipes I develop easily half-able but haven’t gone so far as getting the right size for testing. MUST! The cake of course looks absolutely gorgeous! Lovely, Lara!

  4. This looks far from un-pretty Lara. I wish I could just go and make this right now if cherries weren’t so expensive down under at the moment.

  5. I haven’t had a cherry upside down cake since I was a teenager! Wow, this brings back memories…I used to sneak in my neighbor’s yard and pick cherries that I could reach. There were also some hanging over on our side of the yard and several times I almost fell trying to balance a chair on our picnic table to reach that rips cherry.

  6. I was hooked on to the pic for a few seconds and then when I read ur first para, I was confused as the cake looks quite photogenic to me 🙂 So kudos to the photographer 🙂 Loved the pic of fresh cherries too and the cake stand as well 🙂


  7. I’m a first timer here. Have spent the entire morning browsing, reading, totally amazed. This is such a beautiful blog, so artistic and inspiring. Bravo!

  8. Hi Lara, it looks amazing to me… and I love the half size idea, as a whole cake is usually too much to make unless it’s for a special occasion!

  9. I was just talking to a friend about how people don’t make pineapple upside down cake anymore and how we should make one with another kind of fruit (I made a good one with pears in the fall, but now I’ve forgotten which recipe I used for the cake). Looks like I’ll have to make one with cherries, it looks delicious. Love the cake stand.

  10. What a great way to use up fresh picked cherries! That reminds me to grab a few pounds of cherries at farmer’s market tomorrow. And the cake stand looks so good with the cake!

  11. I suppose that I should have posted a couple of my ugly photos, just so you could see how really ugly this cake was before I sliced into it. Or, maybe it’s best to keep up the illusion 🙂

    For those of you around Seattle who are heading to Dahlia Bakery for one of these cake stands… sorry, but these were vintage! They do sell lots of cake stands, but I haven’t seen any red ones like these there. I got them for a song too… $15 for the small one and $20 for the big one (yes, I was greedy and bought them all up). But, even if you aren’t picking up a cake stand, it’s worth a stop into Dahlia Bakery for one of their coconut pie bites. Heaven in a parchment cup!

    Evinrude – yep. I put the sugar/orange on top of the cherries in the dish.

    Thanks for all the lovely words!

  12. A break to take trips to lovely and delicious places is a true necessity. Thanks for sharing the flavors and images. And yes, I’m up to my ears in cherries. And I can’t get enough. I’ll have to try this recipe 🙂

  13. Lara – I love cakes like this. Of course my concern is never how I am going to photograph (not that I would really call me taking photos an art), but to get it over and done with so I can eat. I really would have dived into the cake, though I know you had misgivings. The genoise is a lovely and inspired touch. This is a fabulous recipe with which to make good use of fruit in its prime.

  14. I think the cake looks beautiful! You really didn’t have to worry about photographing it. 🙂 And the cake plate is also very pretty.

  15. Last year we took our 2 month old daughter cherry picking about 20 miles from Spokane. She just sat there, but we had a blast, before you know it, we had picked about 15 lbs of cherries! Wish we had this recipe back then, looking forward to using it during the harvest this year.

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