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
⅔ cup of sour cream
½ tablespoon of vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon
¼ cup of blueberries
- 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.
- Divide the sugar syrup among the muffin cups, then add a uniform layer of berries to each. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the lemon zest, cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.
- 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.
- Add a generous scoop (between a 1 ½ and 2 tablespoons) of batter to each muffin cup.
- 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.
- 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.