Apricot & Berry Upside-Down Cake with A Salty-Sweet Caramel

We're at that moment in early summer when some fruits are in their absolute prime (berries) while others haven't yet hit their stride (stone fruit). What to do when you have a pint of berries that are threatening to go off, and some apricots or peaches that aren't quite as tasty raw as they might be cooked? Bake!

This is the recipe we turn to when we want to make the most of a medley of early summer fruits. It's an absolute crowd-pleaser: nostalgic, but still bright and fresh. This long Memorial Day weekend is the perfect opportunity to make this unfussy, easily assembled standard, adapted from a Chez Panisse classic. This version uses apricots and berries, but you can use virtually any fruit you have laying around!

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2-3 cups of sliced apricots and mixed berries

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The grated zest of 1 orange

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoon fine granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Center rack in oven.
2. In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until smooth and bubbling slightly but do not let it become dark brown or burnt. Remove from heat and pour into a buttered 9-inch cake pan and spread it out across the whole of the bottom of the pan.
3. Lay the fruit down in a single layer over the caramel in concentric circles, or a nice pattern of your choosing.
4. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a measuring cup, combine the milk, vanilla and orange zest.
5. Using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy (this can also be down with a whisk, it will just take longer). Add the eggs one at a time and thoroughly incorporate into the batter. Scrape down the sides of bowl as needed.
6. Stir in half of the dry ingredients, then the milk mixture. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients until just combined.
7. Pour batter over the fruit and even out with a spatula or knife.
8. Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is firm to the touch, lightly browned, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
8. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife along the edge, then place a serving platter over the pan and flip carefully to invert the cake while it’s still hot.  

Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla-scented whipped cream. Best eaten the day it's made!