I used to make this cake a lot years ago during the nineties. It’s from Jill Dupleix’s New Food which looks old and dated design-wise now but is filled with stonking good recipes which have stood the test of time. I think I made this cake for an afternoon tea on the day we heard the news Princess Diana died, so that really dates it. I was living in the Blue Mountains with no TV and we sat in the kitchen listening to the breaking news on the radio and Princess Diana went from someone I’d barely thought two seconds about to someone I was obsessed with. I read everything about her for weeks and I became like an idiot savant expert on the royal family.
Nobody really knew how to react to those early reports on Diana’s death. I remember some British Royal expert on the radio banging on about Diana’s fashion genius with handbags. A woman – mother, sister and friend had just died and that was the best this toffy nosed git could come up with. Then Tony Blair spoke about Diana as the people’s princess and Diana’s brother Charles Spencer did his cracking eulogy at the funeral and expressed how everyone was feeling. Even the most cynical and hard nosed republicans among us were moved by the death of this princess in a tunnel pursued by paparazzi beasts on motorbikes. I went to a friend’s place to watch the funeral on TV, it was one of those huge global events with millions of people watching the might of British pomp and ceremony on display. I might have even made this cake to take to the funeral watching, it was a cake I used to take to friends places a lot. It’s excellent for afternoon tea but makes a fine desert cake served with thick cream. Best of all it’s an effortless cake to bring together, simple, elegant and fit for a princess.
You can play around with the fruit toppings, strawberries, raspberries, prunes, plums, bananas (Bananas are surprisingly good) I’ve always wanted to try it with pineapple and fresh cherries but I never got around to to it. I doubled the recipe for this cake and baked it in a 25cm cake tin so it was a bit thicker than usual. I also crammed the top with strawberries and blueberries so the edges crumbled a bit when I was getting it out of the tin. It was still delicious though, there is something so magically impressive about an upside down fruit cake.
The recipe calls for Cointreau or a similar liqueur. I only had some old Triple Sec in my pantry, which looked so scarily ancient, I threw it out and substituted the liqueur with half vanilla essence and orange juice and some orange zest.
Upside-down fruit cake
Adapted from Jill Dupleix New Food
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup any fresh fruit
- 140 grams (5 ounces) butter
- 1/2 cup castor sugar
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup self-raising flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tablespoons ground almonds
- 1 tablespoon Cointreau or similar liqueur
- Melt sugar and water in a pan over a low heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Boil syrup until it turns golden brown. (Be patient this takes a while)
- Quickly pour syrup into a lightly oiled 20cm (8 inch) cake tin and swirl round to coat bottom of tin.
- Arrange fruit, cut side down on top of the caramel.
- Beat butter and castor sugar until creamy and pale.
- Add eggs one at a time, beat well after each addition.
- Sift flour and baking powder and fold into mixture
- Add almonds and liqueur
- Spread batter over fruit and bake at 190C (375F) for 45 minutes
- Cool slightly, run a knife around the edge before turning out onto a plate. Serve with cream or ice-cream.