Skillet Cherry Cornmeal Upside-down Cake

It's cherry season!  

But if you can your cherries, or keep a jar in the pantry, you can be ready to whip up this delicious cake any time of the year!  

I was joining some friends for dinner the other night and didn't have time to run to the grocery store.  Fortunately, I had two jars of the lovely Morello cherries from Trader Joe's in the pantry.  They worked beautifully for the Skillet Cherry Cornmeal Upside-down Cake!

Beating the egg-whites gives this cake an incredible lightness.  The balsamic vinegar balances the sweetness of the cherries, and the cornmeal brings on the old fashioned country fair charm!

Skillet Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake 
(adapted from Bon Appetit)
 Serves 10

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 cups pitted fresh sweet cherries or drained and rinsed canned cherries.
1 1/4 cups all purposed flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  

1)  Combine 1/4 cup of the butter with the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar in a 10-11" ovenproof skillet with 2" high sides.  Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes).  Increase heat to high, add cherries, and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.

2)  Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to blend.  Set aside.

3)  Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining butter (1/2 cup) and sugar until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla.  

4)  Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended and occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.

5)  Using clean, dry beaters in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff but not dry.  

6)  Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it slightly.  Fold the remaining whites in 3 additions (batter will be thick).

7)  Spoon batter over cherries in the skillet, then spread evenly with offset spatula to cover the cherries completely.

8)  Bake cake until the top is golden brown and a tester insterted in center comes out clean (about 45 minutes).  

9)  Cool in skillet on a rack for 5 minutes.  Run a butter-knife around the edges of the cake to loosen.  Place a large cake plate upside down on top of the skillet.  Using pot holders, firmly hold platter and skillet together and flip.  Leave skillet atop the cake for 5 minutes.  Remove skillet.  Rearrange any cherries that were displaced in the transfer.  Let cake cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.  Serve with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.  

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