Monday, March 7, 2011

Too bad my early electronics training didn't pay off nearly as well

When I was in 7th grade, these were the options for class electives:

1.  Sewing and Cooking
2.  Electronics and Woodshop

You gotta love public school junior high curriculum in the (ahem) '70s*.

Rebel that I am, I opted out of Sewing, and into Electronics, where I proceeded to spend nearly an entire semester assembling something involving an LED display, a switch, a pc board and and lots of wires and soldering**.   At the end of the class, I had a real, live, doomsday timer to show for it.   I could throw the switch, and the glowing red LED display lights would begin to count ominously...1, 2, 3...***  The sewing class projects**** gave no such cause for bursting into maniacal laughter, so I feel I made a good choice there. However, the drill press scared the crap out of me, so I went for Cooking in Semester 2.

I remember next to nothing about that class except this one recipe.   Upside down coffee cake.  For years after that I made this for my family every chance I got.  Breakfast?  Leave it to me!  I could practically make it in my sleep.  Bisquick. Vanilla. Brown Sugar. Butter.


Then, I went away to college and promptly forgot all about it.  Dorm food will do that to a person.  Until last week, when my sister mentioned in passing, "You know that coffee cake you used to make? From junior high? With the brown sugar and the butter on the bottom?  That was good stuff."

Yes, it is.

Upside Down Caramel Coffee Cake
A slightly more sophisticated but no less delicious version of what I learned in Home Ec.  And if you need a doomsday timer, try this one.

1 1/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. butter
2 c. buttermilk baking mix, such as Bisquick
2/3 c. sugar
1 c. sour cream
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350.  In a medium saucepan, combine butter and brown sugar over medium heat until butter has melted.  Allow mixture to come to a boil, then whisk constantly for about a minute, until completely smooth and combined.   Immediately pour into a buttered 9 or 10 inch baking dish with deep sides...round or square is fine.  Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the baking mix and the sugar to blend.   Add the sour cream and the eggs, and beat with an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes, until light and smooth.  Blend in vanilla.

Carefully pour the mixture into the pan, making sure to pour batter evenly over the prepared caramel.  

Bake for 35 minutes, until light golden brown on top.  Your house will smell amazing right about now, by the way.   Allow to cool for perhaps 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.  The caramel sauce will drip down the sides of the cake.  Using a spoon, collect any extra and pour it back on top of the cake.

Cool for another 25 or 30 minutes, then serve.

Goes especially well with bacon and eggs.  Check back soon for more on that later.

* The mid-to-late '70's, OK?  Ah, who am I kidding.  I know I'm dating myself.
**Soldering. Now that was fun.  Why aren't there more opportunities to melt spools of pretty silver metal with a smoking hot tool in real life?  No wonder the kitchen gadget I am coveting more than life itself is a blowtorch.
*** As long as I didn't jiggle the table too much.  My soldering, though enthusiastically done, was not top quality.
**** They made an apron and a pin cushion, I believe.


  1. I'm thinking that if you are nut person (as in, a person who likes nuts, not a wacko), you could toss some chopped toasted pecans on top of the caramel before you pour in the cake batter. Then you'd have upside down caramel pecan coffee cake. Oh yeah!

  2. Simple and yummy. Might have to try this one to bring to my fellow teachers one day soon.

  3. Oh, they will love you for it, Kat!

  4. Hi, the top didn't become a sauc, instead it was crystalized and chewy. Any ideas why? The cake itself was great, just the topping didn't turn out. Thanks!

    1. The topping does become thick, sticky and chewy/candy-like when it cools. We happen to love that toffee effect, but I know it might be disappointing if you were thinking it'd be more like a sauce.