Last weekend, I spent a few more minutes browsing through the tower of cookbooks I brought home from the library, searching for a dessert that wouldn't require an extra trip to the store. And in David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert, in a note at the bottom of another recipe, I found this variation for gingerbread made with oranges and cardamom.
Despite some issues with the batter overflowing the pan, this cake is spectacular. Both fancy and homey, with its beautiful rings of orange nestled in a gooey brown sugar topping, it is supported by a lovely moist gingerbread that might be worth baking all on its own. The cardamom and orange together set this cake apart from other gingerbreads.
(I was all set to take a shortcut and use already ground cardamom, but we didn't have any! We did have cardamom pods, so I ground a few up in the coffee grinder, sifting out the large bits.)
Orange Upside-Down Gingerbread
from David Lebovitz
4 T. butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. freshly ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
For the topping, put 4 T. butter in a 9-inch round cake pan or cast iron skillet. Make sure it is at least 2 inches deep. (My regular 1 1/2" pan was too shallow, and the pan overflowed during baking. Next time I'll use a 9" springform pan--it's quite a bit deeper.) Set the pan on the stovetop over low heat until the butter melts. Add the brown sugar and cardamom and stir well. Remove from heat. Arrange the orange slices over the brown sugar mixture, putting the prettiest sides down.
For the cake, whisk together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. In the mixer, beat together 1/2 cup butter and the sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the molasses. Add the eggs one at time, beating after each. Slowly mix in half the flour mixture. Stir in the half-and-half, and then the rest of the flour mixture until just combined. Incorporate any flour stuck to the sides of the bowl with a few turns by hand with a rubber spatula.
Spread the batter on top of the fruit layer in the pan. Bake until a skewer in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Cool about 15 minutes, then loosen the sides of the cake from the pan with a thin spatula or knife. Invert a serving plate over the pan and flip the cake over. Carefully lift off the pan.
Serve warm with sweetened whipped cream.