Apricot-Cherry Upside-Down Cake Recipe

We arrived at the food blog conference on Sunday to find a long table loaded with sugar-topped scones, breakfast breads, and freshly-made plump sausages. I scanned the table for the most intriguing bits and found myself fixated on the most unsuspecting item. Fresh apricots sliced in half, exposing their golden flesh. It’s rare to find apricots on a fruit tray and even more rare that this fruit could steal my focus from the sausages.

The delicate apricot scent ushered me back to the age of 10 when every morning I boarded a long yellow school bus at 7:15am. The journey lasted 45 minutes, bounding quickly and roughly over countryside dirt roads. To fill the time, my classmate Kelly would often bring her Strawberry Shortcake dolls, unpacking each one and setting a scene for the day. Sometimes Strawberry Shortcake was running from the devious Purple Pie Man, other days she merely skipped along the bus seat in search of imaginary Spring flowers.

In a stroke of marketing brilliance, the manufacturer associated each Strawberry Shortcake doll with a particular food and scented it to match. Many classmates and other bus passengers found Apple Dumplin’ to be the most desirable. I was a fan of Apricot though, a toddler wearing an apricot shaped hat with a pet bunny named Hopsalot. I often placed the doll to my nose and inhaled deeply, as thought the sweet smell could cut through the dank bus odor or the pungent dairy farms we passed.

My brain wrangles with the concept now and I have to say it out loud to even believe it, “I grew up with food-scented toys”. [And, we wonder why there’s childhood obesity.]

After returning to Vancouver on Monday, I realized my refrigerator seemed pathetically empty, so I dropped my bags and headed off to the market. Within moments of entering the store, I noticed deeply red colored apricots and my weekend apricot urges returned. They looked almost magical. And, I bought a bag full.

The apricots have an atypical color and are aptly named Red Velvet Apricots (a type of plum-apricot hybrid). The flesh is firm and golden, but slightly tart and tastes reminiscent of a mild flavored plum.

Red Velvet Apricots

I wasn’t sure how I would use the apricots but feared they would somehow disappear if I didn’t scoop them up immediately. In retrospect, I did not need 2lbs. My head moved from left to right, looking for nearby shoppers who may have an eye on the same apricots. I stood in front of the bin, elbows slightly outward from my body to block anyone approaching, then I lifted each one to check for blemishes, firmness, weight, and most importantly … the scent. It was like childhood doll-sniffing all over again, without the bumpy bus ride.

I’ve based the following upside-down cake on my mother’s recipe, with the addition of a honeyed whip cream flavored with cardamom and cinnamon. I also served the cake with a good dose of chopped pistachios.

Apricot Cherry Upside-Down Cake

Apricot-Cherry Upside-Down Cake w/Honeyed Cream

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

In a skillet, melt the butter and add brown sugar. Cook over medium heat just until sugar begins to bubble. Remove from heat and cool.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 /2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
6-8 apricots
1/3 cup cherries, pitted

1. In a large mixing bowl, blend together the butter and sugar. Add eggs and milk, continuing to beat until combined.

2. Slowly add flour, mixing just until blended. Add all remaining ingredients. Beat together until the mix is smooth, about 1 minute.

3. In the cooled skillet, arrange slices of apricots and cherries on top of the butter and brown sugar mixture. I sliced each apricot in half, removing the pit. Then, I cut each half into 3 pieces (so, 6 slices per apricot). Arrange in concentric circles, along with the pitted cherries.

4. Pour cake batter over fruit, using a spoon to gently spread it smooth and to the edge of the skillet. Bake at 350F (175C) for 40-45 minutes or until cake tests done.

Honeyed Cream
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup chopped pistachios (for garnish)

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and whip at high speed until stiffened. Adjust flavorings to suit your tastes — I liked it best with the subtle taste of honey and just a hint of the spices.

Apricot Cherry Upside Down Cake
Apricot Cherry Upside Down Cake

More upside-down cake ideas:
Cherry and Peach Upside-Down Cake – Food Blogga
Pear and Almond Upside-Down Cake – Cook (Almost) Anything at Least Once
Plum Upside-Down Cake – Simply Recipes
Banana Chocolate Chip Upside-Down Cake – David Lebovitz
Peach Upside-Down Cake – FatFree Vegan Kitchen

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  1. Brilliant use of your apricots! My favorite of the ‘Strawberry Shortcake’ line of dolls was Blueberry Muffin. Well, not sure if that was my favorite, but it was the only one I owned!

  2. This looks so good. The honeyed cream is what really makes my mouth water in combination with the cherries/apricots.

  3. I love apricots with honey, and this cake is gorgeous.

    Believe it or not, they still make food scented toys. My daughter has a baby doll that smells like cookies — I surreptitiously sniff it now and then.

  4. I discovered my Strawberry Shortcake while snooping around my parents’ basement and was astonished—her scent remained after many years in storage. Something to worry about? ;)

    This recipe looks as irresistible and comforting as she was.

  5. Wow that looks delightful. I can practically taste and eat the apricots & cherries of the cake!
    The honeyed cream surely must suit perfect for this dessert.
    My sweet tooth is at the sky right now :)



  6. Allen, I love this dessert/cake. I haven’t made an upside down cake in ages. I also love those apricots you used…haven’t seen them here in Sydney. This would def be a nice treat with a cup of coffee.

  7. Looking back as a child, I always been attracted to toys that were food related. Garfield because he liked lasagna, Birthday Bear from the Care Bears because of the cake on his tummy and Cookie Monster because of the cookies. I guess those darn marketers sure knew how to target me. :)

  8. Oh, I totally remember those! I guess that makes sense since we are both the same age :) I think your cake is lovely. The photos are terrific as well. I love your sense of style and composition. Have never seen nor heard of red velvet apricots until you tweeted about them. I suppose we’ll see more and more hybrid fruits and vegetables, but I’d be more enthused about them if they actually tasted better (or different) rather than just looking like a novelty thing ;) Thanks for sharing a beautiful recipe.

  9. I love a turnover cake, we just finished our stone fruit season here in australia and now is you guys turn. Maybe I can subtitute it with apple. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Oh Allen, this looks seriously good.

    Did you ever read that Strawberry Shortcake got a “fruit-forward” makeover a few years back? She lost the bloomers, and now has a cellphone in place of her cat, Custard. Sigh.

  11. Allen, it’s stunning! And I had to laugh at you staking your claim in the market. I’ve been known to do the same. Your childhood memories brought me right back to mine. Thanks! :)

  12. Nicole: Oh yes – Blueberry Muffin smelled pretty good too!

    Lorraine: I didn’t like my photos of the cream so unfortunately, you don’t see them in the post. However, it tasted amazing — sweet and slightly spiced … forget about the cake, just eat spoonfuls of the cream!

    Kate: Oh no, more food scented toys! I don’t blame you … I’d be sniffing them too, just don’t let your daughter catch you.

    Jen: Wow, still fragrant after all these years? Well, they used the really good chemicals back then before all of these regulations :-)

    Gera: Glad you liked it!

    Peter: The apricot variety is new to me as well — I just loved how they looked and photographed. The taste is ‘ok’.

    Foodlibrarian: Thank you!

    Culinary Cory: I had thought about all of those characters, but I liked them too. Wow, those marketers are sneaky ;-)

    Christina: Thank you!

    Jen Yu: I agree about the hybrids, just not the same as the original.

    Billy: I haven’t tried apple but bet it would turn out just as delicious.

    Tartlette: Thank you!

    Helen: I heard about the Strawberry Shortcake makeover … my goodness. I also discovered that some of the original dolls magically changed gender over the years … who knew.

    Elle: I never used to be this way about food but I’ve become a bit more aggressive :-)

  13. Wow, you have very vivid childhood memories!

    …You just took me back to 1984, where I seated my strawberry shortcake doll into her musical buggy and we went on magical adventures each day. :)

    Do tell us more about the food blog convention! I wanted to go but was low on funds.

  14. A fruit took your attention away from the sausage? No way. :P (you gotta give yourself more credit!) I love it when you use the cast iron pan– something I’ve learned to do myself thanks to you! I think I’ve used that fruit before, but it was marketed as plums here. Weird! But it does look good and the flavors appear to have intensified (yes, I can see these things). Well done Allen :)

  15. Oh, how I remember my daughter’s love affair with Strawberry Shortcake and her friends! I never understood the fascination, but you’ve put it in perspective for me.

    Your cake is just lovely, Allen! Those rich colors and textures just pop right off of the screen. I can almost taste it. Perhaps I will soon. I just bought a bag of Red Velvet Apricots at the market too!

  16. The only upside-down cakes my mom baked, when I was young, were pineapples. I wish she was more diverse and made a beautiful cake like yours.

    Just spotted those apricots in the Valley’s stores. Should go grab a bag.

    I’m going to Vancouver on Wed. Any places I should not miss?

    Hélène :)

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