Once again, there I was walking through the aisles of my local grocery store, minding my own business, gazing at aisle after aisle of amazingly fresh produce when – babam! Like the commercial on TV, it hit me. Apricots, giving me that coquettish look, that French come hither look (well of course we’re talking about the fruit!), screaming Tarte moi, Tarte moi. What was I supposed to do, I’m just a Chef. So I bought them, sneaked one – yes unwashed, but wiped clean on my shirt before biting, in the car. It was ripe, sweet, not enough juice to drip down my hand, but bursting with flavor in my mouth. Oh my goodness, all I can say is thank heavens for traffic lights!

Came home and started leafing through my recipe collection. Couldn’t find the tarte recipe I wanted that appealed to me, so I went with this Apricot Upside Down Cake recipe – not instead but newly inspired. Caramelized Apricots, moist but not too dense cake – it was perfect. So I present to you, this recipe, originally from Gourmet magazine. It came together beautifully, baked incredibly well and just enough sweetness to tease and please your palate. What I noticed about these apricots, is when I cut them in half, the seed almost fell out – speaks to their stage of ripeness – in my opinion – perfect, but they also held together well when I quartered them and with the finished product. A wonderful recipe!

Make the design your own – I used apricot halves and put them cut side down but I’ve seen this done cut side up as well in the cake tin, quartered and arranged French Tarte style, chunked etc. It’s all good! I combined the whole and quartered design – turned out pretty good I think – so did my guests! This recipe has been modified slightly based on comments of some of the people who baked it – you gotta love the internet and the reality bites of those brave souls that have tried a recipe before you. You can find the original on the web, but here’s a slightly modified version – less butter and sugar. So make and own this recipe. As always – enjoy!

For the Upside-down Apricot topping
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. (1/2 a stick plus 2 tbsp.) regular Churn 84
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar – used ½ cup
10 small to medium sized fresh ripe apricots (pick the ones screaming at you from the bin) halved lengthwise and pitted

For the cake
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) Churn 84, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract – this is important and gives the cake a beautiful French flair, so unless there are allergies, don’t leave it out please
2 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk – You know I only ask you to buy the carton when it’s a key ingredient in the recipe – in this case it is so please buy the carton. There are plenty of recipes out there for other uses of buttermilk – including on my site. If you don’t want to buy the carton, it is 1 tbsp. vinegar to 1 cup homogenized milk – you could use less fat milk, but you won’t get the richness of the higher fat content milk

Preheat oven to 375°F
Use a 9” cake tin or heavy bottomed skillet – straight sides preferably
Make the Upside-down Apricot topping:
Heat butter in the tin over moderate heat until it melts
Reduce heat to low and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter, then cook, undisturbed, 3 minutes – it’s okay if not all of sugar is melted
Remove skillet from heat and arrange apricot halves, cut sides down, close together on top of the melted brown sugar and butter – please be careful, you may get sputtering depending on how juicy your apricots are – I got sputtering

Make cake batter:
Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt into a small bowl
Beat together Churn 84, sugar, and extracts in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 3 to 4 minutes with a handheld
Beat in eggs 1 at a time – the mixture may look like it’s curdling, but it comes together when ready – then beat until mixture is creamy and doubled in volume, 2 to 3 minutes
Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 batches alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and beat just until combined
This is a thick batter so don’t expect it to pour out – you will need to use a spoon and gently spoon the batter over the apricots and spread evenly
Bake the cake on the middle rack of your oven until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes – mine took 40 minutes in a convection oven at 370f
Remove from the oven when ready and wearing oven mitts or a large dry folded up towel , place your cake plate over the top of the tin, and flip over – be careful please – juices may splatter onto
Carefully lift the tin off the cake and, if necessary, replace any fruit that is stuck to bottom of skillet. Cool to warm or room temperature
Serve with French Vanilla Ice Cream! Ooh la la mes amis!