And in the photo of a slice below, no one is the wiser. (Except, I guess, everyone who reads this.)
Upside down cakes are traditionally made in a cast iron frying pan. The cake is started on the stove top and then then pan is transferred to the oven. But since cast iron and I don't get along very well (I can never get them properly seasoned), I used a stainless steel frying pan.
While pineapple upside down cake is the mother of the genre, nearly any fruit can substitute. The vintage recipe gem I followed to make this cake calls for "any fruit" and, having purchased a box of apricots at the farmer's market this morning, that's what I used.
I wasn't daunted by the lack of instruction on the recipe card; that's typical of handwritten recipes. But when I read that the cake portion itself contains NO BUTTER, I expected failure. Instead, I reached nirvana. And you can too.
Begin by melting two tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch frying pan. Add a cup of brown sugar and mix well. Spread it over the bottom of the pan and turn off the heat.
Wash a batch of fresh apricots.
Cut each fruit in half. No need to peel them, saving a tedious step that must be done with peaches.
Place the apricots cut side down atop the brown-sugar-butter mixture in the frying pan.
Prepare the batter, which consists only of flour, sugar, salt, milk, one egg and baking powder.
Bake for 30 minutes in a 350F oven. When done, it will look like this.
Then, the terror begins, as you try to flip it onto a pan while bubbling hot. (Do not attempt this while you've got dinner on the stove, as I did. It adds unnecessary pressure to an already tense situation.) The beautiful antique serving plate I intended to use kept slipping, so I tried a smaller dinner plate about the same size as the frying pan, which seemed less terrifying.
The recipe is below. It is really, really good.
Production notes: For the topping, melt the butter completely before adding the brown sugar. For the batter, mix the dry ingredients first, then add the hot milk and combine. Beat the egg and then add it to the batter and combine well.