Onion, Fennel, and Orange Upside-Down Shortcake

On a recent trip to the library, I came across the book Savory Baking. I flipped through it, and after seeing the gorgeous pictures and reading some of the recipes, I checked it out.
Last night I made my first recipe from it – a savory upside-down cake, meant to be eaten as a side dish. Since it was more time-consuming than I usually like for a weekday, I just served it with some scrambled eggs, and I thought it was great!
I can’t wait to try more recipes from this book!

Onion, Fennel, and Orange Upside-Down Shortcake
Savory Baking, Mary Cech

Onion Filling
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry sherry (I used dry white wine)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 small red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and roughly chopped

Shortcake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 medium orange
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup whole milk

To prepare the onion filling, put the olive oil, onions, sherry, brown sugar, vinegar, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper in a large saute pan or wide-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the onions from sticking. Stir in the water. Add the roasted red peppers to the onions. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat.

Cut a piece of aluminum foil to fit the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Place it in the bottom of the cake pan and generously oil or spray the foil and the sides of the pan. Spread the onions evenly in the pan, reserving some to spoon over the finished cake.

To prepare the shortcake, preheat the oven to 350F. Put the flour, baking powder, salt, and orange zest in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Add the butter and pulse for 10 seconds, or until the butter is pea-size. Add the milk and pulse until the mixture starts to form into a dough. Carefully spread the dough over the onions, leaving no gaps and making sure the edges of the pan are covered with dough. Put the pan in the oven and bake just until the top of the cake feels firm in the center when lightly pressed, about 30 minutes (the top will not look brown). Transfer to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

Run a sharp knife around the inside of the pan. Place and hold a large serving plate over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plate. Carefully remove the cake pan and foil. Spoon the reserved onions over the cake. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

6-8 servings

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