Since it’s warming up outside, I’ve been thinking about fresh fruit and baking. One of the best ways to incorporate the two is with an upside down cake! When most folks think about upside down cakes, pineapples and maraschino cherries come to mind. But you can have any variety of fruits in the cake. That’s when I came up with this recipe for the Caribbean Upside Down Cake (besides, there were a bunch of grapefruits just hanging out in the kitchen).
The name for this recipe comes from the two highlighted ingredients — grapefruit and coconut (and rum, too!). Coconut is grown throughout the tropics (some say it is native to Asia, others say South America), and the origins of the grapefruit with which we are most familiar can be traced to Barbados or Jamaica. But they can be further traced back to pomelo seeds brought to the Caribbean in the 1700s from Southeast Asia. And there is your cultural nugget of knowledge for today (I need to come up with a better phrase than that!). I am not a food historian, so if anything is incorrect, let me know and I can further research it.
Anyhoo, for the recipe. I like the juxtaposition of the sweetness of the caramel, and the flavor of the grapefruit. Now you can use any yellow cake recipe that you like. Please do not make it from a box! I’ll include the whole thing for you! This recipe makes 3 8-inch cakes. You could switch it up and make 2 9-inch cakes, or even make cupcakes. Just make sure the cake is set in the middle and a tester comes out clean. This works best with the ingredients at room temperature.
For the topping:
- 3 grapefruits
- 2 sticks of butter
- 2 c. brown sugar
- 1 t. vanilla
- 3 T. dark rum
- 1/2 t. salt
For the cake:
- 3 c. flour
- 1 T. baking powder
- 1 t. salt
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 3/4 c. sugar
- 4 eggs
- 2 t. vanilla
- 1 1/4 c. milk
- 3/4 c. shredded coconut
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the cake pans with cooking spray and line with a parchment round. Spray the round as well.
2. Prepare the topping. Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixer for about 3 minutes. Add the salt and combine. Gradually add the rum and vanilla. Spread equal parts of the topping into the bottom of each cake round.
3. Peel and supreme the grapefruits (here’s a link that shows you how with lots of pics). Arrange the segments in an attractive way in the cake pans on top of the butter mixture; you could try concentric circles or anything that you might like. Try different things and see what you prefer.
4. Sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.
5. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar. Mix well for about 5 minutes in a mixer on medium speed. Add the vanilla and combine. Now add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
6. Now alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk to the butter, mixing after each addition and starting and ending with the flour. So add 1/3 of the flour to the butter and mix to combine. Add 1/2 of the milk and combine. Then add 1/3 of the flour and mix, 1/2 of the milk and mix, and now the last of the flour. Do not over mix. Fold in the coconut with a spatula.
7. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes until the cakes are set in the middle and a tester comes out clean. You may need to rotate the cakes halfway through to evenly bake, depending on how your oven bakes.
8. Cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to release it. Invert a serving plate on top of the cake pan. Turn it upside down so that the cake pan is on top, turning it away from you so you don’t spill on yourself. The cake should release easily thanks to the parchment. Remove the parchment before serving.
I froze the other two cakes, so that I can have some cake for the next couple of months or so. Now the caramel sauce is a little more liquid than other upside down cake recipes. This is due to how the grapefruit is prepared. I did find another recipe for a Grapefruit Upside-Down Cake on Martha’s website where she used the whole segments of grapefruit with the membrane intact. Haven’t tried it, but I’m curious how the topping differs.