When my family and I moved from Montford to West Asheville three years ago, we were lucky enough to become the caretakers to many mature, native fruit trees. Over the years of haphazard gardening in our new home, we have discovered persimmons, mulberries, serviceberries, figs, muscadines, plums, apples, pears, cornelian cherries, and some mysteries that have yet to be revealed. I’ve discovered that the most expedient and enjoyable way to utilize these blessed fruits is to bake them into a skillet upside down cake, with a tried-and-true pineapple upside down cake recipe as a starting point. I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed turning down the butter and sugar in order to enjoy the flavor of the fruits more, as well as compensating for the additional liquid of baking fresh fruit instead of canned. Here is my most recent iteration. Substitute whatever fruit is available to you.
Fig and Muscadine Upside Down Cake
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare your fruit: slice the figs and muscadines in half and remove the seeds from the muscadines.
Melt 6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter in a 9″ cast iron skillet. Pour butter into separate container and set aside (this will go in the cake batter).
Then melt 3 Tablespoons of butter in the skillet.
Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
Place the sliced fruit in the skillet on top of the butter/sugar mixture. Arrange the slices in a pleasing pattern until you have covered the surface of the bottom of the skillet.
Sift the dry ingredients together:
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Whisk the liquid ingredients together:
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
That butter you melted earlier
Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and gently fold together with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. When all ingredients are combined (don’t overmix it! Like pancake batter, it’s OK for this one to have some lumps) pour the batter over the top of the fruit in your skillet and level the batter in the skillet.
Bake for 30-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean. Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, invert the cake onto a plate and remove the skillet.
If any pieces of fruit have stuck to the skillet, quickly transfer them back onto the cake with a fork. The brown sugar glaze should drizzle slightly around the cake.