Stir Sizzle Bake cookbook

“Stir, Sizzle, Bake: Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Skillet”

While some simply regard the cast-iron skillet as the pan of choice for frying chicken and baking cornbread, this cookbook by author Charlotte Druckman will soon have you thinking otherwise. Shown as a vehicle for all-round cooking, both on the stovetop and in the oven, from flatbreads to shortbreads, brownies to bialys, migas to milk cake, the cast-iron skillet will become the first pan you reach for. Additionally, Druckman’s creativity with flavors will delight — just like the unusual pairing of berries and chocolate in an upside-down cake.

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Berry Upside-Down Chocolate Cake

Adapted from “Stir, Sizzle, Bake: Recipes for Your Cast-Iron Skillet”

Serves 12

Berry topping

1 pint blackberries

½ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons Chambord

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the cake:

1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ cup best-quality Dutch-process cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

2⁄3 cup (3 ounces) bittersweet (around 65 percent) chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

2 tablespoons hot water, just off the boil (see cook's note)

1¼ cups granulated sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ cup buttermilk

1 pint raspberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche, or freshly whipped cream, for serving

Cook's note: “Off the boil”: boil some water and let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes. You don’t need to take its temperature, but if you did, you’d see it was somewhere between 195 degrees and 205 degrees.


Prepare the berry topping: Preheat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, gradually raising the heat from low to medium. Place the blackberries in the pan with the granulated and brown sugars, and Chambord. Using a wooden spoon, crush the berries slightly to release some of their juices. Cook, stirring continuously and adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent scorching, for about 25 minutes, until the berries have taken on a jam-like texture; it should be glossy and not watery, but not tight. You’ll know it’s ready when you drag the wooden spoon through it and the mixture pulls away and leaves tracks that just begin to hold. Turn off the heat and add the butter, stirring it in as it melts to combine. Set aside to cool.

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Using a whisk, stir to break up any clumps of cocoa powder.

In a medium heatproof bowl set over a wide pan of gently simmering water (or using a double boiler), melt the chocolate and butter together, whisking frequently. Whisk the hot water into the chocolate mixture and remove the bowl from the pan of simmering water. Whisk 1 cup of the granulated sugar into the chocolate mixture (it will get grainy). Whisk the eggs in, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.

Whisk half the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture, followed by the buttermilk, then whisk in the remaining dry ingredients. Switch to a rubber spatula at the very end to make sure you’ve scraped the sides of the bowl and the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

In a medium bowl, gently toss together the raspberries, lemon juice, and remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar to coat the berries. Scatter the raspberries evenly over the surface of the cooled blackberry topping in the skillet.

Using an offset spatula, carefully spread the cake batter over the berries. Bake the cake for about 40 minutes, rotating the skillet 180 degrees halfway through baking, until just cooked through. A cake tester or fork inserted into the center should come out clean, and the berry juices should be bubbling up at the sides.

Let the cake cool in the skillet for 15 minutes before unmolding it, carefully, while it’s still warm. Use a butter knife to loosen the sides of the cake from the pan, then place a plate on top of the skillet, and flip it out onto it. Slice the cake into 12 wedges and serve it with vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche, or freshly whipped cream (sweetened or no).