Upside-down Green Grape Cake

“That cake looks like cthulhu’s baby.”–boyfriend

This is an ode to mothers. Eh hem. My Mother. She bought the sour grapes I found in the fridge, and used to make this cake. Like many ex-hippie moms, mine is on a perpetual health kick. Of sorts. The kind anomalous diet where there is nothing but fruit and arugula and Charles Shaw in the crisper, and a freezer full of processed frozen mozzarella sticks and jalapeno poppers, jars of peanut butter, blocks of cheddar cheese, but no crackers or bread laying around. The woman has certain priorities. When I stay with her, I show her my gratitude in the kitchen. By cooking, of course. Dishes are another story. I become a dumpster diver of the fruit bin. I find that green grapes, for some reason, if not placed in a decorative bowl immediately after purchase, get shoved to the bottom of the bin, like the unpopular kid in a ball chamber at a McDonald’s birthday party.  I rescued this forgotten fruit, and cooked it in caramel with a white cake bottom. For this recipe, I used David Lebowitz’s upside down cake base and recipe for caramel. I know butter’s bad, but it’s so much easier to make caramel this way. Also, the molasses in brown sugar has at least some nutrition. A minimal amount does wonders for slightly smushy fruit. Sour green grapes work well here to balance the sweetness. I used whole wheat flour instead of white. You only sort of taste the difference. And I happen to think it looks beautiful.

Upside-down Green Grape Cake


For the fruit topping:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 cups green grapes, sliced in half

For the cake:

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
Preheat the over to 350. Grease a 9-inch pie pan (I prefer glass so you can see the caramel part and make sure it comes out cleanly). Combine cake ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth batter is formed and put aside. Prepare grape slices (I laid them out in advance cut-side down on the pie pan to get an even layer.) On the stove, heat the butter and brown sugar for the caramel in a saute pan until bubbling and combined, and pour over the fruit in the pie dish. Cover with batter and bake between 30-45 minutes. To serve, carefully place a serving plate on top of the pie pan, and (wearing secure oven mits), carefully flip the pan right-side down, so the serving dish is supporting the cake. Place gently on a counter, and using a spatula, gently disrobe the cake from the pie pan. Then you should be go to go.