Just. Stop.: Eggnog Upside-Down Fruit Cake

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

-Because sometime venting helps me...-

"So how did the parsnip recipe work this time?" asked my friend and cookbook partner, Stephanie.

"Not so good. The first was too rich. The second was tasted like nothing at all. The third actually set off the smoke alarm." I sighed. "Honestly, if this recipe goes any farther south I'll be cooking in Mexico. I am beyond stressed right now."

"Mexican Mac and Cheese? Hmm..."

"Oooh. Yes. Jot that down. But, anyways, Mutual Friend X keeps bugging me. He can't cook at all. At. All. He wants to help test and to be honest I don't think he can handle it."

"Mutual Friend X couldn't handle a shot of raspberry schnapps."

"HA! Awesome. But yeah, when you come up I want your help working on this one because I am about to seriously go apeshit with these parsnips and club a bitch in the throat with one. I highly doubt the publisher wants that sort of PR."

"All press is good press, right?"

"Unless you're a despot or being profiled in People magazine for stretch marks or something."

"Indeed," she concurred.

-In this issue of People: celebrities who need your undying attention.-

"Alright. Talk to ya' soon. I'm benching this and going out. Laters."

"Bye. Don't go near parsnips."

"Not ever. I'm stopping today. Totally. Lates."

The conversation made me feel better. A good bitching session usually does wonders for my mood, but I was damn frustrated with this recipe and needed some escape.

I generally have a tendency to keep working. All the time. No matter what. Even when I'm tired and realize that I should stop and take a break. It's the type A personalty in me. I demand productivity in all facets of my life.

Sometimes, however, I actually do take time to just stop.

-More often than not I usually am forced to stop due to falling over from exhaustion, but whatevs. These are minor details.-

I make sure there's a day with no appointments. No e-mails to Mutual Friend X. No talking with testers, cheesemongers, editors, co-workers, or anyone else. A day with the laptop firmly closed and stashed away.

These are the days you don't wake up and start answering e-mails before breakfast. Rather, you wake up, make toast and tea, and relax with your book at the breakfast table. You enjoy the fact that there's sunlight streaming through the window and you aren't panicking about your to-do list. There's a breeze outside and you can spend time listening to weave its way through the crackly fall leaves that still desperately cling to branches.

So what was my day like today?

I baked a cake.

A cake for a very special Christmas dinner with some very dear friends.

A well deserved rest and a chance to Just Stop.

So my advice to you in this rather simple post is this. Forget the people you need to get back to. Forget that recipe you need to test, report you need to write, errand you have to do, or whatever.

Just stop.

Take a breath.

Set some time aside.

Bake a cake.

You'll be happier with yourself.

Eggnog Upside-Down Fruit Cake
Note: You can use whatever fruit you have on-hand for this. No worries.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup cranberries - fresh or frozen
1/2 cup blackberries - fresh or frozen
1 fuyu persimmon, peeled and chopped
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup eggnog
1/3 cup of your favorite jam

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together the flour, spices, salt, and baking powder in a bowl and set aside.

2. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and sprinkle in 6 tablespoons of the sugar and cook, stirring until it comes to a boil. Pour into a 8x2-inch circular pan. Scatter walnuts, blackberries, persimmon, and cranberries into the pan and press into place.

3. Beat butter on medium speed in a stand mixer for 3 minutes. Add the rest of the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 30 seconds each, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom. Add the vanilla extract and mix in for 30 seconds. Reduce speed to low and add 1/2 the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated, Add the eggnog and mix in. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Pour batter over fruit and level the top.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cake is golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Remove it from the oven and run a kinfe around the sides. Carefully turn the cake out onto a plate. If some of the fruit or nuts stick to the pan scrape them out and place them on the cake.

5. Warm the jam on the stovetop and brush onto the cake. Serve.

-Potlucks to celebrate Christmas with friends also help. Do everyone a favor and bring a rocking, different kind of fruit cake.-


  1. Oh, the powers of a good bitching session. I know I can count on my friends for that one. Even better is the friend that you haven't talked to in a while, but will still let you bitch , while pretending to notice you weren't her first call.
    This is the most creative Christmas cake I've seen yet!

  2. Beautiful photos! It was so nice meeting you last Saturday at the Grange soup contest! I hope our paths cross again soon.:)

  3. I love just dropping work when it gets too stressful and spending a day baking. It's really therapeutic, but it can get out of hand. Case in point: failed thesis committee meeting last week = 7 batches of cookies in 3 days. Everyone I know is getting plates of cookies this week.

    Your cake looks great! I'm glad you gave yourself a break. You deserve it. Hope things turn out with the parsnips!

  4. Is that a classic figgy pudding in that beautiful (crystal?) bowl? This looks so cheery! I <3 Christmas! I had never thought to add fruit to my eggnog baked goods. I adore anything eggnog. Totes bookmarking this.

  5. What a good message. Being a teenager who is still tied to the raging, frightening world of high school, it is always nice to have someone say to me, take a deep breath, slow down, and just bake a cake. Now I just need to convince my teachers that, no really, i have a good excuse for not finishing my essays, i was baking this damn fantastic cake thank you very much. Needless to say, the cake looks fabulous, and the pictures are lovely.

  6. The toasted sprinkle: Nope! Just a trifle. =)

  7. Just a note to say that I may find myself randomly saying "Fuck your baby" every so often. I told my friend about your post and it took way too long to actually get the story out because I kept laughing the entire time.

    And yes... I totally agree with the whole needing to just stop and breathe thing. I baked many a thing throughout grad school. <3 You rock.

  8. Thank God I'm type B. ... Anyways, these eggnog upside-down cake recipe looks ravishing.

  9. This looks excellent! This has inspired me to concoct an eggnog based Tres Leches cake. Awesome. Also, I may be totally off my mark here, but have you been watching DBZ abridged by teamfourstar? The schnaps and south to mexico jokes are very similar :)

  10. Craft Sparrow: Very observant. Yes. Yes I have. (I love my readers and the fact you guys know this shit.)

  11. I made this for a party this weekend, but subbed pear for the persimmon (just didn't have any on hand). It was AMAZING!! I've been asked to make it again for another party this season. The topping gets all caramelly and crispy/chewy and the cake is rich but not too dense. Def adding this to my go-to cake recipes.


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