Dried Cherry Upside-Down Cake

I love upside-down cake. I usually make it with pineapple rings, apricots, or peaches and then use a yellow cake mix on the top. But this recipe gave me all kinds of ideas for dried fruits — instead of the cherries called for, you could try dried apricots, apples, or even golden raisins. As long as you rehydrate them and then marinate them in rum, you’d probably have a real winner.

2 C dried tart cherries
1/4 C dark rum
1 C (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
3/4 C brown sugar, firmly packed
1 C walnut or pecan halves
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1 C confectioners’ sugar
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
3/4 t vanilla extract
3/4 C unsifted cake flour
Unsweetened whipped cream

Cover the cherries with 2 C of very hot tap water and let stand 45 minutes. Drain, pressing gently; the cherries should seem plump and moist but not sodden. Return cherries to the bowl, add the rum, and stir. Let stand 30-60 minutes, stirring several times.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet. Remove from heat and stir in brown sugar. Sprinkle the cherries and their liquid on top, making a fairly even layer, then distribute the nuts over the cherries and press down lightly. Sprinkle with cinnamon and set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat remaining stick of butter with salt for 3 minutes at high speed. Add the confectioners’ sugar gradually and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat for 2 minutes after the last one. Then add the whole egg and vanilla and beat only until the mixture looks smooth and creamy. Sprinkle or sift the cake flour on top and fold in gently.

Spread the cake batter over the cherries and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the top is browned and a cake tester in the center comes out clean. Let stand for 3 minutes after removing from the oven, then run a knife around the sides and invert onto a serving platter. Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream on the side.