Sunday, July 16

Thoughts on Mexican Food, and Cake....Somewhat Unrelated

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
Serves 8

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.


  1. scrumdidlupmcious....i wish i lived with you so i could eat all this tasty food! I also like how you still refer to the CL as home. Anyway you rock my socks at cooking and baking and you need to do something with it!!!!!!!

  2. That cake looks delicious, and I LOVE the fact that there's whole wheat flour in it! And not too much sugar. I'll have to try it soon.

  3. Luisa,

    It was the wheat flour that really turned me onto the recipe too - along with the yogurt. I really loved this cake, and it only took me about 2 days to eat "my half" of it! I can't wait to try it with a different type of fruit, although I really loved those big juicy blackberries!

  4. Anonymous12:13 AM

    I love how the bottom, or is it the top? Well, I love how the blackberry side of this looks. The little beads of fruit make a lovely pattern – an appetizing pattern!

  5. ok so I actually made this cake and it is freaking delicious! I used nonfat plain yogurt and both blueberries and blackberries! Yum yum, the blueberry parts are actually my favorite and the next time I make it I want to add a little nutmeg and cinnamon so that they kinda taste like the muffins momma used to make!

  6. I've been thinking about buying one of Rick Bayless' books for a while now. I've been in Sicily for three years now and the only mexican I can get comes from my own kitchen! I'm totally going through withdrawals!! Anyway, thanks for the info about the cookbook and also this great recipe!


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