Sunday, July 16
Dustin and I have often commented to each other how, if we only had to eat one type of cuisine for the rest of our days, it would surely be Mexican. Not necessarily because we'd want to eat it every day, but because the idea of giving it up is unacceptable. Life without tacos, enchiladas, or fiery chiles and beans, covered in mole sauce? No more guacamole or corn tortillas? No gracias.
Because of my deep love of food from south of the border, I have a crush on Rick Bayless. He's cute, he's a hippie of sorts, and he is the demi-god of Mexican cusines in the U.S. His restaurants in Chicago, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, are two of my favorites to eat at when I'm at home. Dustin and I love to indulge in their excellent margaritas, delicious ceviche, and finally, some of the most delicious Mexican you can find in the states. I'm sure the desserts are delicious as well, but I prefer to fill up on the savory side of the menu...usually to the point of uncomfortableness.
It should come as no surpise then, that I own all of Rick Bayless' cookbooks. His most recent, Mexican Everyday, is my favorite, because, like the cover says, the recipes are the stuff of everyday cooking. His tacos made with swiss chard, sauteed with onions and garlic, served in corn tortillas with gooey melted cheese have become one of my standards, and there is not one recipe in the book I'm not looking forward to trying. Dustin and I have tacos once a week, or some other Mexican dish, so I plan on cooking this book from front to back.
I had been wanting to try the recipe for Upside Down Fruit Cake in the book, because it was a simple recipe, containing half wheat flour, and a good dose of yogurt, which sounded wholesome enough, and called for browning the butter before adding to the batter, which is something I've never tried in baking before. Although I was expecting a delicious result, the cake exceeded my expectations on all counts.
The recipe calls for any variety of fruit, and I happened to have another gorgeous quart of blackberries from the farmer's market, which Bayless noted were an especially good match with the nutty taste of the wheat flour. The cake is tender and rich with the flavor of the browned butter, and the blackberries cooked just long enough to soften and melt ever slightly into the batter. This is the kind of cake that will disappear, piece by piece, as you find yourself slicing off one sliver after another. Usually I find the willpower to wait until after dinner to indulge in a large helping of dessert, but this cake was so good, I couldn't help myself - and I imagine you won't be able to either.
Blackberry Skillet Upside Down Cake
Adapted from Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless
3 ounces (6 Tbsp) butter, preferably unsalted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark
3 cups blackberries
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar (I use raw sugar)
1 large egg
3/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a large skillet (10 inches), with an ovenproof handle, over medium heat. Swirl the butter in the skillet until it turns nut-brown, then pour into a medium bowl. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the skillet (do not wipe clean), and arrange the fruit in an even layer over the sugar.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the sugar to the browned butter and whisk until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the egg, then the yogurt. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk to combine.
Pour the batter evenly over the fruit and smooth the top. Slide the skillet into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and the center springs back when lightly touched. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Invert the cake and remove the skillet. The cake is wonderful warm from the oven, but also holds up quite nicely for a day or two, well-wrapped, at room temperature.