© 2014 Can Caramelo

Plum Upside Down Cake

I’m working on a very interesting project on how the brain encodes rhythm at different stages of the auditory pathway. We already know the neurons swing with and entrain to musical rhythm and to periodic signals in general, a mechanism that allows us to predict what’s coming and to free processing resources. Still, what occurs exactly in the brain remains an open question.

piece of cake

With a series of experiments, tackling the very early auditory processing at the brainstem level until how accurately a person can tap to a given rhythm, we hope to shed new light on this question. To implement an experiment always it a lot of work, from reading about what has already been done, to conceive the experimental design, hopefully taking into account every little detail, the programming and then the actual running of the experiment. In this case we deal with a whole series of experiments, so you might imagine it is a hell of work.

plums on top

Fortunately, in science we never work alone, but count with the help of our colleagues. If I’m still not completely despaired and thinking of quitting my job, then that’s thanks to the invaluable support of my group. Currently we’re at programming the experiments and my colleague Kasia is actually doing most of the work here. I used to think that engineers were close to the most boring group of people I could imagine, that if I met somebody and he would tell me he was an engineer I would try to inconspicuously get away. But Kasia is changing this prejudice.

whole cake

Now I envy her programming knowledge and her way of understanding a signal and enjoy learning from her. And apart from her knowledge and skills in engineering, she’s funny, slightly crazy, loves to travel, to go to festivals and to practice hula hoop behind the faculty building, in the forest.

crust

One day I was saying I should at least bring her some cake in exchange for all her help. But she had a better idea. She told me she preferred a recipe over the actual cake. Kasia has been following my blog and now she wanted a post instead of a piece of cake. So here is the recipe for a fruity sweet upside down cake, with apples it works as great as with plums. The oatmeal and almond crust is glutenfree and resembles a flapjack, while the plums have a deep caramel flavor. Dear Kasia, I hope you’ll like the cake, thanks a million for all your good ideas and work!

piece with cake in background
For the crust:
• 1.5 cups rolled oats
• 0.5 cups ground almonds
• 0.5 cups dark muscovado sugar
• 80g (2.8oz) butter
• 0.5 tsp salt
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the caramel:
• 0.25 cups sugar
• 30g butter

• 10-12 Plums (could also be substituted for apple)

Vanilla Crème fraîche (optional)
• 200g Crème frâiche
• 1 tbsp sugar
• Vanilla from half a vanilla bean

For the crust, put all ingredients in a bowl and knead with your hands until it comes together. Put aside while you prepare the fruit and caramel. Cut the plums in halves and remove the stones. For the caramel, put the sugar in a small pot (don’t use a non-stick coated one, it won’t work, I’ve some disastrous experience here) on low heat and wait until it melts and gets brown. Don’t stir, but you can carefully push the non-melted sugar into the melted parts. When all melted and brown, take off the heat and quickly stir the soft butter in (works best if the butter is soft, almost melting, if it is too cold, the caramel gets hard around it). Pour the buttery caramel into the cake pan or pot where you will bake the cake. It’s important to use a closed baking tin where the liquid can’t spill out into the oven. Arrange the plum halves on the caramel. Put the dough for the crust on a plastic sheet. You can use your fingers to press in into a circular shape, the same size as your baking tin. With the help of the plastic sheet, put your crust on top of the plums and if there are any overlaps, just fold them in. Bake for 40min at 160ºC (320ºF). Let cool for at least 10min before flapping around. If you want to have the crème fraîche with the cake, just stir all the ingredients together.

piece of cake_h

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