It’s been a pallid winter. I don’t mind. The fog that’s wrapped the house today is lovely and soft and has lingered nearly ‘til midday. And the mild temperatures have made everything here easier. I can scamper out to the chicken house in my nightgown and bare feet, across the bit of dry land under the eaves of the house and around the corner, when Beatrice is squawking in the middle of the night in alarm and needs a whispered word or two to calm her. I haven’t needed to put on a coat to tend the hens and gather eggs in the morning or to bring them vegetables in the early evening. And it’s nice to spend a bit more time with them, though Florence shrieks if I pop my head into the coop to say ‘hello’ when she’s in her nesting box. Little Annie, our terrier, is happy to romp and sniff in the backyard, oblivious to the hens and their antics. And there’s been little shoveling to do and little ice to melt or remove from the walk up to the house. It feels more like early spring than winter, really. We get a dusting of snow every now and then, lingering for a day on branches, not enough to plow, and the temperature dips just low enough to feel like it’s a proper winter before it climbs back up and the roof begins dripping again. I miss the snow, the bright skies that accompany deep cold. But I can wait for another year.
I have a container of fresh lingonberries and another of crème fraiche in my refrigerator and every morning for the last week, as I spoon some plain yogurt and a spoonful of jam into a bowl for breakfast, I have felt a little niggling guilt about not putting them to good use. So I decided to make them into a tender almond-scented coffee cake. Warm from the oven and flipped onto a plate to reveal tart apples and lingonberries in caramelized sugar, it seems like a nice way to wake up, and my Sweet Boy is home from school today.
Apple and Lingonberry Upside Down Coffee Cake
Yield: one ten-inch cake, eight to ten servings
2 tart apples (such as Haralson)
½ c. fresh lingonberries (or substitute dried cranberries)
½ c. sugar
5 T. unsalted butter, soft but cool
¾ c. sugar
2 egg yolks (reserve the whites)
1 t. almond extract
½ c. crème fraiche (or substitute sour cream)
¾ c. cake flour
1 t. baking powder
a good pinch of salt
3 egg whites
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Peel the apples, cut them into quarters, cut out the core, and slice them into ¼” slices.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the apples, stirring them periodically, until they are soft and the sugar is melted.
- Gently stir in the lingonberries or dried cranberries and remove the pan from the heat.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until they are pale and fluffy. This will take several minutes.
- Add the egg yolks and mix well.
- Add the almond extract and crème fraiche and mix well.
- Scatter the salt and the baking powder across the top of the batter and mix well.
- Add the flour and mix gently just until incorporated. Do not overmix.
- In a medium bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they are glossy and stiff.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until they are uniformly incorporated.
- Butter a 10” springform pan and pour the apples and lingonberries into it. Spread them into an even layer.
- Pour the batter over the fruit and spread it gently and evenly into the pan.
- Bake the cake in the lower third of your oven until the center springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes.
- This cake is best served warm. If you wish to serve it later, do not invert it immediately. After it has cooled on the counter, cover it tightly with aluminum foil. When you wish to serve it, remove the foil and warm it in a 350 degree F oven for ten minutes.
- To invert the cake, place a serving plate slightly larger than the cake over the top and center the cake. With one quick and sure movement, flip the two so that the plate is upright and the cake pan upside down on top. Release the springform. The cake will drop onto the plate. Then, using a thin spatula, slide the bottom of the cake pan off the fruit topping. Pretty up any fruit that has been dislodged in the process and serve immediately.