Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cake of the Week: Plum Ginger Upside Down Cake + Double Chocolate Cookies

To make up for the lack of baking last week, there has been quite a bit of culinary deliciousness going on in my world recently.

First of all, I made a Plum Ginger Upside Down Cake. I came across this recipe while Photograzing a couple weeks ago. Gingerbread? Yum. Plums? Yum. Carmelized sugar? Yumyumyum!!!

I first tried upside down cake at summer camp when I was in high school – just your standard pineapple upside down cake, probably (no, definitely) out of a box. And I LOVED it! I love how the sugar gets all carmelized on the top – no need for frosting, give me straight up sugar and cinnamon any day!

This was my first venture into upside down cake making, and I have to say that I am a huge fan. The cake looks super-elegant and complicated, but in reality is so freaking easy! I can’t believe I haven’t made upside down cake before. And they’re really versatile – pretty much any fruit would work with this recipe. I actually used black plums (which are yellow on the inside), and pluots – a plum/apricot hybrid that is pink inside. 

As you can tell by my excessive picture-taking, I think that plums are absolutely gorgeous. Such rich colors!

My Suggestions/Variations: 
- Do thick wedges of fruit – I sliced mine thin, and found myself wishing there was more fruit in my cake…
- I did not have fresh ginger, so I used a tablespoon of ground ginger. This may have been a bit too much – if you’re not huge into the ginger/molasses combo, you can go light on both.
- Also, the recipe says to cook it for over an hour – mine was done in 50 minutes!
- And one final tip, put your springform pan on a baking sheet – otherwise it may drip and cause the fire alarm to go of next time you preheat your oven…or maybe that’s just me…thank God the fire dept. doesn’t come every time my alarm goes off!

- Because this cake was so quick and easy, I would recommend making it the day you serve it – and eat it warm with vanilla ice cream. (And chocolate sauce – obviously!)

adapted from Leslie Mackie’s Macrina Bakery & CafĂ© Cookbook
serves 10

For the topping:
3 T unsalted butter @ room temperature
1/2 C light brown sugar
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
4-5 medium to large ripe plums
For the cake:

4 oz unsalted butter @ room temperature
1/4 C + 2 T light brown sugar
1 T peeled, grated ginger
1 egg + 1 yolk
1/3 C molasses
1 1/2 C flour
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
3/4 C buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Oil a 9" springform pan and line the bottom with a 10" circle of parchment paper (or tinfoil). You want a bit of the paper to come up the side of the pan.

Cut the plums into 1/2" slices. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar and cinnamon over medium heat for about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan, completely coating the parchment paper. Place the sliced plums on top of the butter-sugar mixture in overlapping circles so that none of the bottom of the pan shows through.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and pale. Add the grated ginger and beat 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, beating on low speed and making sure that each egg is fully incorporated. Slowly pour in the molasses and mix thoroughly. The mixture will look like it’s breaking but it will come together when the dry ingredients are added.

Alternately add a third of the flour mixture and half the buttermilk to the batter, starting and ending with the flour. Finish the mixing by folding with a rubber spatula until the dry ingredients are just absorbed. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the plum-lined pan and level the surface.

Bake for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run a thin knife around the edges of the cake and release the sides of the springform pan. Cover the cake with a serving platter and carefully invert. Lift the bottom of the pan off the cake and gently peel away the parchment paper.

Here is a non-gingerbread variation:

If you’re wondering what else I made this weekend, I’ll give you a hint: Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies. (Ok, that wasn’t exactly a hint, but I have no patience for guessing games.)

 I made these for a church potluck this Sunday. That’s right, take a moment to imagine me in an apron carrying a plate of cookies – preferable with my hair in pin curls or some such ridiculousness – now say, “awww, how cute!”

Ok, moving on. These cookies were pretty amazing, and really chocolatey!

The recipe calls for ¾ cups dutch process cocoa – I only had ½ cup left, and that was plenty! Also, I substituted craisins for cherries, and added walnuts. Pretty freaking awesome! Make sure you take them out when they still look gooey, because you want them soft and chewy and brownie-ish. 

(I'm not going to lie - I'm eating one right now. With my coffee. It's breakfast.) 

Double Dark Chocolate Cherry Cookies
Slightly adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book
1 cup all purpose flour (142 g)
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, mixing well. Stir in the vanilla.
3. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, mixing just until incorporated after each addition. Stir in the chocolate chips/chunks and cherries. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and divide it in half. Roll out into 2 uniform logs, about 12 inches long. Wrap the logs in parchment paper or saran wrap. Refrigerate until firm enough to slice - a few hours. (You can freeze the logs tightly wrapped for up to 1 month.)
5. Position a rack in the top and bottom thirds of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.
6. Cut the logs into 1 inch slices and place 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the dough looks just baked. These cookies should be tender, so do not overbake.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 weeks. Do not uncover before defrosting.