These mini blueberry and lemon upside-down cakes are a decadent dessert or breakfast treat

A few traditionally savory ingredients are what make this recipe so versatile and hearty

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Food Editor

Published January 12, 2020 5:30PM (EST)

Miniature blueberry and lemon upside-down cakes Credit:  (Ashlie Stevens)
Miniature blueberry and lemon upside-down cakes Credit: (Ashlie Stevens)

I am unapologetically enthusiastic about baked goods that straddle that fine line between dessert and an acceptable breakfast food: pain au chocolat, warm cinnamon rolls dripping with cream-cheese icing, Wiltshire Pantry’s cinnamon apple pop-tarts. It’s within this magical realm that the difference between muffin and cupcake blur beyond recognition and, with a quick inversion, these miniature blueberry and lemon upside-down cakes appear. 

The addition of a few traditionally savory key ingredients are what make these cakes. Cornmeal adds a little heartiness to the batter, lemon zest adds a brightness, but the real MVP of this recipe is the sour cream, which keeps the cakes moist, but also cuts through the sugar a little bit to keep them from being cloyingly sweet. 

Miniature Blueberry and Lemon Upside-Down Cakes

2 sticks, plus an additional three tablespoons, of unsalted butter
1 ⅔ cups of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
1 cup of all-purpose flour
½ cup of cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ tablespoon of salt
3 eggs
⅔ cup of sour cream
½ tablespoon of vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
¼ cup of blueberries
Neutral oil 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, melt three tablespoons of butter. Add ⅔ cups of sugar and fresh lemon juice. Stir occasionally until sugar is dissolved, about three minutes. Meanwhile, use a neutral oil to grease a 12-cup muffin tin. To help prevent sticking, I’d also recommend cutting parchment paper rounds to fit into the bottom of the cups. 
  2. Divide the sugar syrup among the muffin cups, then add a uniform layer of berries to each. Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine the lemon zest, cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt. 
  4. In a separate bowl, cream together 2 sticks of room temperature butter and 1 cup of granulated sugar. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract, whipping together until completely combined and lump-free. Fold into the bowl of dry ingredients. 
  5. Add a generous scoop (between a 1 ½ and 2 tablespoons) of batter to each muffin cup. 
  6. Bake for 20 minutes — the cakes should be a light golden brown and, if poked into the center, a toothpick should come out clean. Some of the berry juice may have lifted onto the pan; it looks a little messy, but it’s nothing to worry about. 
  7. Allow the miniature cakes to cool for about 15 minutes. Once cool, try to rotate some of the cakes in their cups. If they feel at all stuck, run a knife around the edges of the cakes. Flip the muffin tin onto a wire cooling rack, remove any lingering parchment rounds and enjoy.

By Ashlie D. Stevens

Ashlie D. Stevens is Salon's food editor. She is also an award-winning radio producer, editor and features writer — with a special emphasis on food, culture and subculture. Her writing has appeared in and on The Atlantic, National Geographic’s “The Plate,” Eater, VICE, Slate, Salon, The Bitter Southerner and Chicago Magazine, while her audio work has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here & Now, as well as APM’s Marketplace. She is based in Chicago.

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