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Grill the last course with upside down cake

Upside Down Dessert prepared by Judith Dunbar Hines. | Phoby Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

Upside Down Dessert, a prepared by Judith Dunbar Hines. | Photo by Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

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Upside-Down dessert

8 to 10 servings

2 tablespoons butter

1⁄2 cup brown sugar

1⁄4 cup orange juice

1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pound fruit (approximately 3 cups)

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda

2⁄3 cup buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 stick room-temperature butter

3⁄4 cup granulated sugar

Prepare grill for indirect medium heat.

Assess the available fruits — pit and thickly slice peaches, plums and apricots. Cut rhubarb into 1” pieces. Use blueberries and raspberries as-is. Prepare and measure 3 cups.

In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over direct medium heat, melt butter and add brown sugar, juice and spices. Cook, stirring, until sugar has melted and liquid bubbles and thickens, about 2 minutes. Add fruit, toss in the caramel, then pat down in a single layer.

Combine dry ingredients and whisk together. Combine buttermilk, eggs, zest and vanilla in another bowl.

In large mixer bowl, whip butter and sugar 2-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add buttermilk mixture and then slowly add dry ingredients. Blend smooth; spread over fruit in pan.

Place pan over indirect medium heat and watch temperature gauge to keep heat near 350 degrees. With lid closed, bake 40-50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Place a serving plate over top and carefully flip cake onto serving platter.

NOTE: Indoors, make topping over medium burner. Bake cake at 350 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.

Adapted from “Weber’s Way to Grill,”
by Jamie Purviance

Updated: July 11, 2014 7:55AM

Amid the many suggestions for summer grilling — burgers, pizza and chicken — there is little offered to feed the sweet tooth. But everyone enjoys dessert, and special summer fetes require it.

My countertop fruit bowl offered a mixture of fruits, some not in their prime. There were luscious blueberries beckoning from the refrigerator and some last-of-the-season rhubarb needed attention. What could I do with this celebration of summer?

When George Stephen invented the kettle grill in Chicago’s West Loop in 1951, I’m sure he was not thinking dessert. But years of experimenting by avid outdoor cooks has produced ideas far beyond the burger and hot dog.

I turned to the griller’s handbook, “Weber’s Way to Grill.” There I found this upside-down dessert, which takes the cake, literally. Then I made it my own by substituting a bounty of local fruits for the canned pineapple.

The caramelizing process infuses the fruit with a sticky, delicious topping when upended. If the cake cools too much and won’t easily tip out of the pan, replace the pan on the warm grill for about one minute, which should warm it just enough to allow it to release.

If you are unlucky with weather — or don’t have a backyard or grill — this cake is quite fine made using stove top and oven.

Here’s a tip of the pan to American ingenuity that gave us the kettle grill and the desire to take grilling in an uncommon direction.

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