This is an unusual cake: it’s baked with the frosting right in the pan! Chocolate upside-down cake is not only odd, it’s delicious, and has become a family favorite. Equipment is important here. I use a contour pan, which is rounded at the bottom edge. That pan makes the cake easy to remove with frosting intact.
Look for a 9-inch rounded bottom (contour) cake pan – check your local baking supply store, or see this one at Amazon. You might also find them called “European style” pans.
Of course, what you put in the pan matters, too, and in what order. The frosting goes in first: it’s a ganache made with heavy cream, bittersweet chocolate, and a touch of jam. That’s easy enough, right? The only trick is to make sure that your chocolate is entirely melted and mixed well with the cream and jam.
For the jam, raspberry is the #1 family favorite, followed by apricot. Whatever fruity flavor that you’d like with chocolate is the one you should use. If you’re using raspberry jam, choose the seedless type. Chocolate upside-down cake should be smooth and delicious; chunky jam would not be good.
I prefer bittersweet chocolate, with 55-65% cacao content. Ghiradelli makes a nice bittersweet chocolate chip that melts well. If you use chocolate from block or bar form, you’ll need to chop it into small bits.
note about make-ahead:
Make the cake and cool it completely. Store it in its pan, covered, at room temperature. At serving time, reheat the cake, uncovered, at 350˚ for about 10 minutes, and then unmold the cake. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, then gently twist the pan back and forth on a flat surface to loosen the cake. Invert a plate with a slight lip over the pan, and flip the cake onto the plate. If some frosting clings to the pan, just use a warm spatula to patch the top.
Chocolate Upside-Down Cake
FOR THE FROSTING
- ½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
- ½ cup seedless raspberry jam (apricot works well too)
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into small bits
FOR THE CAKE BATTER
- ½ cup boiling water
- ⅓ cup + 2 teaspoons cocoa powder (natural, NOT Dutch process)
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅓ cup seedless raspberry jam (or apricot, as above)
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
- ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350˚F, and generously butter a 9-inch contour (rounded at the bottom edge) cake pan.
- Place the cream, jam, and chocolate in a 3-cup bowl or measuring cup. Microwave at 70% power for 2 min 30 seconds, until cream is hot. Whisk until smooth. (NOTE: of course you could do all this in a saucepan over low heat if you prefer.) Pour frosting into the buttered cake pan.
NOW THE CAKE BATTER
- Measure 1/2 cup boiling water into a 2-cup measuring cup, and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and jam; whisk again. Set aside. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt, and set the dry ingredients aside.
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mix. Beat well after each addition.
- Pour the batter evenly over the frosting, and bake in the center of the oven 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. The frosting on the bottom will still be liquid. Cool the cake in its pan on a rack at least 30 min.
- When the cake has cooled, but the pan is still a little bit warm, unmold the cake. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, and twist pan gently back and forth on a flat surface to loosen the cake. Invert a plate with a slight lip over the pan, and flip the cake onto the plate. The frosting will cover the cake and run onto the plate. If a bit clings to the pan, just use a spatula and patch the top: no one will care, I promise. It will still taste fabulous.
- NOTE: the cake may be made one day ahead of time, cooled completely and left in its pan, covered, at room temperature. To unmold: reheat the cake, uncovered, at 350˚ about 10 minutes.