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Onion, Fennel, and Orange Upside-Down Shortcake
Sherry, balsamic vinegar, and fennel give a crowning touch to the fresh, orange-scented shortcake. For a satisfying meal, enjoy a slice with roasted pork tenderloin.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry sherry
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
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, balsamic vinegar, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper in a large sauté pan or wide-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Cover with a lid and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove the lid and stir in the water. Roughly chop the roasted red peppers and add them 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 the foil on the bottom of the pan and generously oil or spray the top of the foil and the sides of the pan. Spread the warm onions evenly in the pan, reserving some for spooning over the finished cake.
To prepare the shortcake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the flour, baking powder, salt, orange zest, and cold butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse for 10 seconds or until the butter is the size of peas. Add the milk and pulse only until the dough comes together. Dollop even spoonfuls of dough over the top of the onion layer in the cake pan. 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 a large serving plate over the top of the pan and, holding the pan and plate tightly together, 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.
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