Suzi's Blog

Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Upside Down Cake


The website Food52 is a resource that you simply must visit. It’s a site beautiful both for its recipes and its visualizations. Suzen made this cake, and began boasting to me. As the family dessert maven, I took no offense. But I wondered if she had changed medications, or even doctors.

After all, my wife is not a dessert person. But here she was: “You won’t believe… Everyone tasted it and loved it… Wait until…”

She’d made this cake in the city while I was upstate. I had fashioned a rather good cookie, but she had outdone me with this cake. She really had. Look at that picture. You know how the word “mahogany” connotes richness and wonder? Well, that mahogany cake is a wonder, both visually and to the palate.

I cannot outdo the description of the cake’s author, indieculinary:

“Balsamic vinegar and strawberries are a classic pairing. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil are a classic vinaigrette. Surely, I thought to myself, all three must come to sweet-and-sour harmony in a cake. This recipe came together in my head as I thought about the theme of this contest. I knew I wanted to take the vinegar idea in a sweet direction. Vinegar caramels came to mind, and then I thought of a tartly sweet caramel sauce.

“That made me think of upside-down cakes, and all at once, the recipe came together. I decided to build on the usual technique for making an attractive upside-down cake: spiral your fruit or toppings at the bottom of the pan, pour over a caramel-based glaze prepped on the stovetop, pour your batter over that, bake, cool, and invert to oohs and ahhs. In order to make sure the flavor of the vinegar was heightened and emphasized, I wanted to include it in both the glaze and the cake. Olive oil cake seemed an inspired pairing with the balsamic vinegar, and so I adapted an olive oil cake recipe I’d worked on previously, swapping in balsamic vinegar for the rosewater I’d previously featured. To keep the aesthetic of the cake spring-like, as a match for the season and the strawberries, I used golden balsamic vinegar instead of its darker, thicker sibling. This cake comes together quickly. Dense and moist, with an intriguing tartness to offset the jam-like quality of the strawberries, it is rich with eggs and not too sweet. Oh go on, make it for breakfast.”

I have never met indieculinary but anyone who suggests cake for breakfast is a star in my book. This cake will astonish you and put a smile on your face. For the rest of the day. If you make it for breakfast.

Lunch and dinner are okay, too!


Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Upside Down Cake

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


For the balsamic vinegar glaze and strawberry spiral:

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup golden balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey

For the cake:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup golden balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cup cake flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cups olive oil


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray an 8-inch cake pan with olive oil spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper (this is an important step — it will help your cake release from the pan after baking without disturbing the arrangement of your strawberries). Spray again with olive oil.

Remove stems and slice strawberries vertically. Arrange them in a spiral, starting with the outside layer and overlapping slightly at the bottom of the cake pan.

Combine the brown sugar, golden balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey in a stainless steel pan and whisk to emulsify. Bring to a boil and stir frequently until thickened enough that it drips more slowly from your stirring spoon. Remove from heat and pour carefully over the arranged strawberries.

To make the cake batter, start by whisking together in one bowl the sugar, buttermilk, vinegar, and eggs.

In another bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients in three stages, stirring to incorporate each time.

Add your olive oil in 3 stages, folding and stirring to incorporate each time.

Slowly and carefully pour the batter over the strawberries. Don’t pour too rapidly, or you’ll displace your carefully-arranged spiral.

Bake for approximately an hour. The cake is done when the top is golden and it has pulled away slightly from the edges of the pan.

Cool for 10 minutes, and then run a knife between the cake and the pan to make sure it is completely loosened.

Put a flat plate atop the pan, and then, using potholders to protect your hands, quickly flip the cake while holding the plate tightly to the pan.

Slowly lift the pan, and the cake will be sitting, covered in parchment paper, on the plate. Peel off the parchment paper and be greeted by a beautiful spiral of sweet-tart fruit atop a golden cake.

Source: indieculinary at Food52c

Photo Credits: Canon T2i, 18-55mm lens at F/4.5, 1/50 second at ISO 3200 [no flash]



Pineapple Upside Down Cake

pineapple cake

I don’t like neurotic people or things. So I have never been fond of Upside Down Cakes. The world is upside down already. Who needs another reminder?

Of course, being fair, the “upside down” part could refer, not to the economy, but to yoga. I don’t do headstands – fear of a broken neck – but lying next to a wall with my feet extended straight up against the wall is actually rather comforting.

So I was so pleasantly delighted to taste this cake. And so will you. This can become a new comfort food buddy for you. The cake is luscious and the pineapple bottom and glaze are full of flavor without being sickly sweet. Turning this cake out of the skillet, before your guests, will generate some smiles and “ahs”. The lovely complexity of that pineapple top, coupled with its intense out of the oven aroma, is definitely an end of meal treat.

The success of this cake comes, in large part, from the use of real, not canned, pineapple for the topping. And then using a little rum and lots of pineapple juice in the cake itself. That cake, just the cake, is a delight.

You can amplify the experience by adding some flavored whipped cream or ice cream or by accompanying with a glass of sweet wine.

Pineapple Upside Down Skillet Cake

Yield: 8 servings


For the topping:

  • 1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cored
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter (6 Tbsps.)
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For the cake:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons. ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons. baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter, softened (6 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum, plus 2 tablespoons, for sprinkling over cake
  • ½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the topping, cut the pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Add the brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Arrange the pineapple on top of the sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

For the batter, in a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and rum. Add half the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in the pineapple juice, then add the remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended (batter may appear to be slightly curdled).

Spoon the batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake the cake in the middle of the oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Let the cake stand in the skillet for 5 minutes. Place a plate over the skillet and invert the cake onto the plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Sprinkle rum over the cake and cool slightly.

Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

Source: Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, 2002