Yesterday evening marked the first episode of series 3 of my favourite TV programme: The Great British Bake-Off. I was ridiculously excited to ‘meet’ the new flock of contestants and to suss out their different personalities and culinary fortes. The first challenge they were set was to bake an upside-down cake of their own design and I was thrilled to be able to feast my eyes upon a beautiful spectrum of fruits, flavours and arrangements.
This inspired me not only to head to the kitchen, but also to deviate. Since baking my first ever upside-down cake (a very traditional, retro one using pineapple rings dotted with glacé cherries) I have time and again returned to Nigella Lawson’s recipe. In my opinion, for ease and reliability, it is the best. But the great thing about the concept of an upside-down cake is its versatility: use it as a template and experiment with different fruits and sponge flavours. Today I have made a Caribbean upside-down cake, using bananas, pineapple and rum-soaked sultanas. I have to say, it is a really yummy combination and all the fruit held its shape perfectly when being turned out. A new favourite has been discovered!
Caribbean upside-down cake (adapted from ‘Nigella Express’, Nigella Lawson, p. 82).
2 tbsp light brown sugar
tinned pineapple chunks (in juice, not syrup), plus 3 tbsp juice
a handful of sultanas
1 tbsp dark rum
100 g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100 g unsalted butter, softened
100 g caster sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas 6. Generously butter the base of a 23 cm round cake tin (not loose-bottomed) and evenly sprinkle over the soft brown sugar.
Put the sultanas in a small bowl with the rum and leave to soak.
Slice the banana into vertical strips, but try not to make them too thin or they will turn into mush and won’t hold their shape. Arrange the banana slices over the buttered and sugared base of the cake tin and fill up the gaps with pineapple chunks. Scatter over the sultanas, reserving the rum for later.
In a large bowl, cream together the caster sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Sift together the other dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger) and add this to the butter and sugar mixture, along with the eggs. Beat well until you have a smooth batter, trying to incorporate some air into the mixture as you whisk. Add the pineapple juice and a splash of the reserved rum (2 tsp) and mix again until combined.
Spread the batter over the fruit in the tin. Try to spread it over as evenly as you can, but don’t worry if a few bits of pineapple can still be seen poking out from the batter.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a plate (fruit side should be pointing upwards, showing the lovely fruity decoration!). Best served warm.