Woohoo, a new post! This is totally unplanned (but then so was my 16-month "hiatus" LOL ) but surprising events this past week led me to sign back in to this blog and give it an update.
(For all the wonderful people who left comments while I was away: Thank You! They are much appreciated and will reply to each one of you as soon as I can.)
So where have I been? What I've been up to? Well, I've started to raise chickens in my backyard. My family got our first chicks October 2011, and now have seven hens. Their names are: Julia, Martha, Ina, Padma, Rachael, Pepper (who I wanted to name Nigella but my son really liked the name because it matched her black feathers, the next hen for sure), and last but not the least Ted. Then several months ago, we rescued a rooster which we named Gordon. We've been enjoying their beautiful, flavorful eggs. My husband and I have always wanted to keep chickens, most especially after visiting Soul Food Farms a few years back.
Also about a year ago, my family found a local farm that grows vegetables and raises animals without pesticides and just recently now part of their herd share. It's been exciting to see my boys get to milk the farm cow (named Glenda) one day a week and get the benefits - milk can't get any fresher than that! This past couple of years have truly been a journey for my family towards an agrarian lifestyle. I hope to share them with you here.
But for now, let's move on to this cake.
|schmear that cake pan, whisk the dry ingredients and make colorful citrus wheels|
Well, the cake all started with Instagram (You can also say that's another place I've been hanging out this past year LOL). The photos I see from all these really creative people have been an inspiration. The most recent was this one in particular from Hourie Sahakian (@houriesloves), head baker at Short Cake in Los Angeles.
Seeing that photo of her citrus upside down cake last week made me just want to recreate it, make the cake come to life!
I adapted Thomas Keller's "pan schmear" recipe from ad hoc at home since I've had great success with that recipe (and a blog post to show for it). I already know it'll be much easier arranging the citrus wheels on it instead of an already hot, sticky caramel.
I wanted something different for the cake instead of a usual white batter so decided to try a cornmeal base using Lemon Cornmeal Cake recipe from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle.
I used a combination of calamansi, blood oranges and honey tangerines for this cake because I wanted to play with different sizes and colors. I'm sure any of your favorite citrus would work with similar results. There are a few things I would do differently next time. Cooking the citrus in sugar syrup first to draw out some of their moisture. I found the sugar bottom got diluted from the citrus juices and made the batter moist.
I didn't realize this until after I flipped the cake right side up and remedied that using my blowtorch for some brulee action. The thin layer of crackly sugar topping made for a great textural contrast.
Calamansi, Blood Oranges and Honey Tangerine Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
(adapted from Thomas Keller ad hoc at home)
112 g (8 TBSP) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 TBSP honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
217 g (1 cup) firmly packed light brown sugar
pinch kosher salt
3 each blood oranges and honey tangerines, or any preferred citrus
(adapted from Tish Boyle The Cake Book)
161 g (1 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
150 g (1 cup) yellow cornmeal
200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
363 g (1 1/2 cups) whole milk yogurt
170 g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted
6 g (1 TBSP) finely grated blood orange zest
15 ml (1 TBSP) freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 F degrees.
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle, combine the butter, honey, vanilla, brown sugar and salt, and beat until smooth and blended. Spread 1/3 cup of the schmear onto the bottom of an 10-inch pan. (Reserve the remaining schmear in the refrigerator for two weeks or a month in the freezer.)
Slice off the tops and bottoms of citrus, place on a clean surface and slice away rind and pith top to bottom following curve of fruit. Slice crosswise into 1/4-inch thick, discard any seeds. Arrange on top of pan schmear in a single, tight layer. Set aside and prepare cake batter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs until blended. Add the yogurt and stir to combine. Add the butter and stir until blended. Add the zest, juice and vanilla extract and whisk to combine.
Using a rubber spatula, fold the wet into the dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and cake test comes out clean. Cool the cake on the wire rack for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the edges of the cake, invert onto a serving platter and serve.