Upside Down Tomato Cornmeal Cake
I love me an upside down cake (not sure why I like saying it that way).
There is something so satisfying when you flip a cake over and see that beautiful caramelized fruit and sugary hard caramel topping.
Why not make a savory upside down cake?
I had this idea to make a cake with plum tomatoes.
Why plum tomatoes? Well, because plum tomatoes (aka Roma tomatoes) have the least moisture of any tomato, and are perfect when roasted or baked. They don't fall apart.
I didn't want a cornbread, because then it would be too dry, so I used half flour, half cornmeal, so it was grainy and yellow.
Buttermilk to assure a moist cake.
Lemon zest and herbs were added too. Fresh thyme leaves hold up well in baking.
I usually play around with baking recipes a few times until I get it right, but I think this one came out right the first time!
This was moist and gorgeous.
Savory and sweet.
Sort of a cornbread, and sort of a cake.
To eat with chili or for breakfast......you decide.
I think you could definitely play around with the recipe, different herbs, maybe add in some cheese?
The second time I baked it, I added in kalamata olives, which looked beautiful and gave it a nice briny flavor to go with the tomatoes.
for the caramel:
6 plum (ROMA) tomatoes, sliced in half the long way
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 tbsp butter
for the batter:
1/2 cup of white sugar
zest of a lemon
1 1/2 sticks of butter, (softened or melted), 3/4 cup
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves (removed from stems)
handful of kalamata olives, sliced in half (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
This recipe is for a 9" cast iron skillet, but it would work in a 9" heavy (not a nonstick) cake pan too.
Heat the 4 tbsp butter w/ the brown sugar until melted. Use a silicone spatula to combine to make a nice brown caramel.
Working quickly, lay the tomato halves on top of the caramel and set. Don't worry if it hardens now, you are going to pour the batter on top.
Mix everything together, adding in the buttermilk last. It will be a nice thick pale yellow batter.
Pour on top of the tomatoes and caramel. The butter will ooze up the sides, which is what you want, this insures your cake will come right out of the pan.
Bake 45 minutes. It should be nice and firm and light golden.
Let cool 10-15 minutes in the pan (no more or it will stick).
Run a knife around the edges of the pan, and using 2 hands, flip the cake out onto a serving platter large enough to fit the circumference of the cake.
If some of the tomatoes come loose, just put them back on, but this did not happen. It came out beautifully!
Sprinkle the tops of the tomatoes with sea salt.
Decorate with fresh thyme sprigs.
I hope you enjoy!