Stumped by the letter U I had a pull a shifty and thus came up with Upside Down Cake.  I think U may have be tougher than the letter “I”…  What food starts with the letter U?  Upside Down Cake is a great choice, it’s classic comfort food and right now everyone can use some of that!

I did not grow up eating upside down cakes.  In fact, I don’t think I ever ate one until I was an adult.  I’m surprised by this, I mean…who doesn’t like comfort foods?  Apparently my parents, that’s who!  Surprisingly, my mom spent part of her childhood in Hawaii and I’m sure they were the inventors of the pineapple upside down cake.  But maybe not, this a recipe with a mysterious, secretive past.  It was apparently invented in the USA in the early part of the 20th century and did indeed call for pineapple…but no one is sure exactly where it came from.

Yeah, the pineapple.  This is naturally where our heads go when we think upside down cake.  I feel kinda guilty for dissing the pineapple the way I do on the show.  I love pineapple and even though it almost always has to travel a long way to make it to market IT IS DELICIOUS.  Pineapples are a low pesticide crop and so you really don’t have to stress out if you can’t find an organic one.

I chose apples instead.  We’re doing an American classic and what is more old school than apples?  What really brought me to this decision was another upside down dessert that I love—tarte tatin.  Tarte tatine is a French apple dessert…but it’s a pie (or a tart) not a cake.  I adore these, it’s one of my absolute favorite desserts to make.  I go beyond apples too and monkey with a bunch of different fruits like pears, mangos, persimmons…you name it.  So when I had to come up with something upside down for the letter “U” I thought tarte tatine and upside down cake and I combined the two and here we go…an apple upside downer!

One of the things I love about making tart tatine is that it’s done in my cast iron skillet.  My skillet is a beautiful work of art.  In many ways it is my pan of choice.  I’m a bit wary of chemical-based, non-stick coatings…but a well maintained cast iron skillet is naturally nonstick!  That’s what a “well seasoned” pan is all about—an accumulation of grease from years of cooking that is more or less embedded in the fibers of your pan.  The secret to seasoning pans is to never wash them!  If I really have to clean my skillet, I’ll rub salt into the pan with my finger and rinse it out, but never use soap and a scrubby!  You also don’t want to let cast iron pans (woks fall in this category) sit with water in them or they’ll rust…so always towel dry thoroughly.  You also want to give the pan a little oil to coat it while it’s in storage and waiting for the next use.  If you do these easy steps, you’ll be rewarded with a naturally nonstick skillet that’s virtually indestructible and a real great addition to any kitchen!

Many food historians say the upside down cake was originally a “skillet cake” and cooked on the stove top.  We’re gonna kick start our cake that way but finish her in the oven.  You can use any pan for this if you don’t have a cast-iron skillet.  No problem.

Though we may not know exactly who invented this American classic we do know that it’s always good fun to make.  And good eating.  And hard to screw up.  And totally delicious, organic fun!