I have a treasured star fruit tree in my yard, which produces a crop of fruit several times a year. I end up with so much of this delicious tropical fruit; I’m forced to think of new ways to use it (even though my neighbors are very happy to accept my fruity gifts).
A few months ago, I wanted to make a star fruit upside-down cake, but the fruit on my tree wasn’t ripe enough. Instead, I made this delicious kumquat upside-down cake. The kumquat cake was better than I thought it would be. The tart kumquat skins, though a little chewy, were perfect with the sweet caramel-covered cake.
With my star fruit tree loaded with ripening fruit, I anxiously awaited the moment when I could make the upside-down cake again. Unfortunately, my waiting was prolonged, because one of my neighbors decided to take it upon herself (without asking) to pluck the ripest fruit from my tree as she walked her dog. She isn’t very tall, though, so the top branches were left untouched and I was able to find 2 tree-ripened fruit to make the long-awaited cake.
Visually, the star fruit upside-down cake is stunning, with drippy caramel and cake squeezed between the thick slices of fruit. Despite its fragile appearance, star fruit holds up well to cooking. It keeps its distinct star shape even in sauces. The flavor, however, is very subtle. Star fruit is very juicy, mildly sweet and a little tart, reminiscent of a kiwi.
I used a different recipe for the cake batter this time, and made a richer caramel topping. The cake is more substantial and buttery. It is very moist, with a touch of nutty flavor from the addition of ground almonds. The caramel topping could easily be made with a touch of rum to accent the tropical fruit even more.
So which cake is better, Kumquat or Star fruit upside-down cake?
I’ll just have to make them both again to have a real taste test.
You can make the entire cake using a large (10”) cast iron skillet. If you don’t have one, use a standard 9-inch cake pan. It’s up to you how much fruit to use. I recommend cramming as much as you can into the pan, because it will shrink together when it cooks.
Melt the butter and brown sugar (and rum if using) over medium heat in your skillet or a heavy saucepan, until the sugar is melted and bubbly, about 5-10 minutes. If you added rum, cook 5 minutes longer on low heat. Try not to stir it around too much, because it isn’t necessary. Remove from the heat. If you are using a cake pan instead of a cast iron skillet, pour the caramel into the bottom of the cake pan.
When the caramel is cool, arrange the fruit from the outside-in. Squeeze as much fruit in the bottom as you can. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325° F/ 170° C
Combine the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating until combined. Add the vanilla extract. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the yogurt everything is blended.
Pour the cake batter over the fruit layer and spread evenly (it will be thick). Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes.
Carefully turn the cake out onto a large platter, taking care as there will be hot caramel that may drip through the sides of the pan. Best served warm or room temperature.
I have to be completely honest here. I feel like I’m failing miserably at posting holiday-appropriate recipes. Looking around at my fellow bloggers, they are inundating the world with cookie-this and cheese-ball-that. I just don’t have it in me to prepare a ton of holiday recipes right now. Maybe when my 1-year-old isn’t tugging my pants down, or when I have more time…maybe next year I can be blogging perfection. The truth of it is I worked myself into a frenzy pre-Thanksgiving, and ran out of steam when I was presented with preparing for the next holiday AND creating a ton of new recipes at the same time.
I want to breathe. I want to enjoy this Christmas with my favorite little guy who it growing so quickly it hurts. He’s walking now, and drinking from a sippy cup. It amazes me to see him tottering around the house – balancing each careful step. Knowing how precious this time is, it feels wrong to stick him in his playpen, or on the iPad, so I can destroy my kitchen baking up a storm.
So I’m taking it easy, dear readers, and I don’t blame you if you do too. Pay attention to the people you love this year. Sit down and spend time with each other. Hold onto these moments. They won’t hold it against you if you don’t bake everything from scratch.
Speaking of scratch, I did manage to squeeze in this silly recipe for gooey gingerbread cakes. I call it silly because I don’t quite know what it is. It’s somewhere in-between a molten cake and a soufflé’, flavored with cinnamon, cloves and ginger. I’m one of those rare people who really love gingerbread. I adore chewy gingerbread men cookies, so wanted little soft cakes that were gooey inside. Served warm with a dusting of powdered sugar and some vanilla ice cream, they are pure heaven. If you love gingerbread.
Happy holidays everyone. I hope to post a few more recipes before Christmas, but I may not make it. Stay tuned!
Adapted from a recipe by Shayla Ebsen
Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
Generously grease 5 ramekins with butter (if using 4 ramekins, double cook time).
Combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a bowl.
In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter and white chocolate over medium-low heat. In a separate bowl, combine molasses, vanilla and lemon zest. Pour the warm butter mixture into the molasses mixture and stir until combined.
Using a whisk, add egg yolks to the molasses mixture one at a time until thoroughly combined.
In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed. When they become foamy, slowly add the brown sugar. Keep beating until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
Add half of the flour to the molasses mixture. Fold half of the egg whites into the molasses mixture. Keep alternating flour and egg whites, gently folding, until combined.
Pour mixture into ramekins. Cook for 12-14 minutes, checking often to make sure they do not overcook. They are done when they are puffed and the outer ½” edge is firm and golden. The center should still jiggle slightly. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve in the ramekins, or run a knife around the edge and flip out onto serving plates. Serve immediately.
Did you make this recipe? I’d love to hear from you! Post a comment below.
The cake I really wanted to make was a starfruit upside-down cake, but the fruit on my tree isn’t ripe yet. Instead, I made this kumquat upside-down cake, which is just as fun, and may be even tastier. I grew up with a kumquat tree in my south Florida backyard. It was just a little thing, and I don’t remember doing much with the fruit. We would pluck the little orange gems from the tree and nibble at the sweet kumquat skin. Sometimes we just tossed the sour insides away.
Now I know what to do with kumquats. They make a delicious marmalade. They are beautiful sliced into thin rings and cooked in a citrus sauce for chicken or duck. They are perfect in a cranberry sauce, and as this recipe proves, they make an excellent upside-down cake. The sweetness of the cake and caramel are perfect with the sourness of the fruit. It’s just the right amount to make this one of those cakes you can eat all day.
My Aunt who lives in Tennessee says she gets kumquats in her supermarket every winter. I hope she is right and everyone has access to these little fruits. Eating the skin takes a little getting used to. It’s the opposite with all the other citrus, but this is a kumquat’s best feature.
Or it could be their name. It’s fun to say. Go ahead…say it.
This kumquat upside-down cake showcases the little fruit beautifully. When my statfruit does finally ripen, I’ll be posting a follow-up to compare the two cakes. I have a feeling they will both be equally delicious. How could you not love a kumquat upside-down cake?
Only slightly adapted from David Lebovitz’s upside down cake.
Preheat oven to 350°F/190°C
In a 10” cast iron skillet or cake pan (not a springform pan), melt the butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Cook, while stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts and bubbles. Set aside and allow to cool while you make the cake batter.
Beat together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, alternating with the milk until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix.
Arrange the fruit in the bottom of the skillet or pan, cut side down. If you have two cut sides on a piece, place the largest end facing down. Work from the outside of the pan, creating a tight ring of fruit. Continue until you have covered the bottom of the pan.
Pour the batter on top of the fruit and spread it towards the sides. Place in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes until a wooden pick comes out clean. Allow the pan to cool for 20 minutes.
To flip the cake, place a plate on top of the skillet or pan. Put on your oven mitts just in case some hot juices escape. Flip the cake over and it should pop right out.
I can’t remember the last time I made a cupcakes or muffins (though I make a few cakes every month), which is why I asked my sister and her husband to submit their recipe for gluten-free pumpkin cake muffins. I have been watching my sister, Amy from afar and am very proud of her. Amy was once a struggling waitress trying to work her way through college while battling weight issues. Now she’s a Nike model and Elite Beachbody fitness coach. As I write this, she is one of the top 20 coaches in the country, making a very good living by inspiring others. Go Amy! To read more about Amy, visit her blog.
So what does Amy eat when she wants something sweet? I was able to pull this yummy recipe from their hands. It’s a delicious gluten free muffin packed with fall flavors like pumpkin, cinnamon and maple syrup. Made with almond flour and almond butter, these are high in protein. We call them cake muffins because of their light texture and the delicious icing on top, making them a cross between a muffin and a cupcake. Whatever you call them, these are yummy enough — and healthy enough — to eat for breakfast or dessert!
For the muffins:
2 cups Almond Flour
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons maple almond butter (Justin’s)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup GHEE or butter
1/2 cup maple almond butter (or regular almond butter)
4 tablespoons almond milk
1 ½ cups granulated sugar or confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the muffins:
Preheat oven to 350° F/180° C and line a muffin tin with cups.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until smooth. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before icing.
Mix together all ingredients until smooth. Before icing your muffins, place into the refrigerator to chill.
I planned this Thanksgiving apple cake recipe for weeks, but never thought I’d be making it with a duck in my house. That morning, my son and I took a walk (he in his stroller). I cooked up my applesauce cake layers the day before, with plans to assemble the cake later that afternoon. While we were walking, I spotted some boys chasing a white duck in the yard across the street, which is an odd thing around these parts. I live in downtown Miami. We don’t have white, domestic ducks walking around. The duck was obviously stressed about the situation, so I called over to them, asking who the duck belonged to.
They didn’t know, but said they were trying to get the duck to go to the river. The Miami River. It’s a saltwater river full of boats and huge cargo ships. This is also not a good place for a white, domestic duck. The boys managed to herd the duck to my side of the street and I instructed them on the methods of duck herding (I’m not sure how I know this, but I do).
At this point, the duck decided to make a break for it through a fence into a neighbor’s backyard. This was a bad thing, because there are two big dogs in that yard. Sure enough, the dogs came running, and the duck spit out between the fence posts onto the sidewalk. It’s at this point I decide to save this poor creature, which would require picking it up.
I’m not adept at picking up unwilling fowl, but the duck was exhausted. I quickly grabbed it by the neck with one hand and scooped its wings in with the other. After a few sad quacks, the duck calmed down and I released its neck. The poor thing didn’t try to fight or peck. But now I had my hands full of duck and a stroller full of baby. How to get home? And what was I going to do with my duck?
My neighbor had emerged from her house at this point (thinking her dogs were attacking a bird). She was kind enough to walk back home with me, pushing the stroller. I ended up putting the duck in the shower for safe keeping. I have two big dogs in the yard and had no other safe place for her.
Fast forward and I’m assembling my cake to the sound of happy duck quacking coming from my bathroom. The duck was dirty from several days of wandering, so I turned the shower on just a sprinkle (it’s one of those nice, rain shower heads) and gave the duck a big bowl to sit in. She started bathing right away, fluffing her feathers and making happy sounds, just like ducks do.
Oh yes! We are making a cake. That’s what you are here for…not some crazy duck story. Did I mention how delicious this cake was? The applesauce cake layers came out beautiful and moist, recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. I added my own cinnamon apple layer in the middle and rum-soaked raisins in the cake — completely optional if you don’t go for raisins. The apples cooked in a brown sugar caramel sauce add a decadent “apple pie” taste to each bite. Topped with a divinely light whipped cream frosting, this cake makes the perfect not-too-sweet Thanksgiving season dessert. It brought a whiff of Fall into this frustratingly warm-and-sunny Florida kitchen.
To finish off my story, Mrs. Duck, who we had by now determined was a young female Pekin, had most likely escaped from someone’s illegal backyard livestock cultivation, and was intended for dinner. Mrs. Duck was rescued by The South Florida Wildlife Center where they will find a safe place so she can live out her days peacefully with ducky friends.
Some more delicious desserts:
Preheat oven to 350° F/ 180° C.
Butter and flour two 8” round cake pans. Line with parchment paper if preferred.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in one bowl. In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy and light in color, about 2-3 minutes. Drop in your eggs one at a time, beating on low speed in between. Add the applesauce and continue to beat on low speed until combined. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in the walnuts or raisins if you are using them. The batter will have tiny lumps. This is fine.
Divide the batter evenly into the baking pans and cook 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan for 15 minutes, and then invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely. You can wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator if you are baking them ahead.
In a heavy saucepan on high heat, add the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter. Stir and cover for 2 minutes until the juices release from the apples. You need to quickly cook this, stirring occasionally, until the juice from the apples is cooked down into a slightly thick syrup. This should take about 5-10 minutes on high heat. Make sure the apples don’t scorch or brown. Once you can run a spoon across the bottom of the pan and see very little liquid remaining, remove the pan from the heat and allow the filling to cool.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add the cream while you beat on medium speed, scraping the sides of the bowl a few times. Continue to beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.
After cakes are completely cool, trim tops to make them flat (if necessary). Place one cake top-side down on your serving platter. I like to place it on parchment sheets which I remove after the cake is iced. This keeps the plate clean.
Take the apple slices and arrange them tightly overlapping each other. Working from the outside inward, use as many apples as you would like.
Place the second layer top-side down and ice the cake. Use the back of a spoon to create swirls. Place the cake in the refrigerator to set the icing.
Yes. I went there. Why not? I have a freezer drawer full of breast milk and a baby who won’t take a bottle anymore. I wasn’t about to let all of those hours spent attached to a breast pump go to waste! When I saw recipes for breast milk pancakes floating around, I decided to improve on the idea, with 100% organic whole wheat and banana.
They turned out light and fluffy, with just the right natural sweetness from the banana. You really wouldn’t know they were made with breast milk (yes, I tried them). I made these small to I could give my son a whole one to eat (and play with). He loved having his own pancake to eat, and I felt good he was eating something packed with good ingredients for breakfast. This recipe makes about 15 3-4” or 30 1-2″ pancakes. They freeze well and stay moist because of the banana. I like to heat one up a tiny bit in the toaster oven if they are cold.
In a mixing bowl, combine mashed banana, milk, egg and coconut oil. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until barely mixed. You should still see some small lumps.
Using a griddle heated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or a frying pan on medium-low heat, grease the surface with a small amount of butter. Add the batter, approximately 1-2 tablespoons for each pancake. Cook for a few minutes, until you see small bubbles forming on the surface. Flip each pancake and cook for a few minutes more. Keep an eye on them and remove from the pan as soon as they are golden brown.