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From the Chronicle Kitchen
Savory Baking

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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

Onion Filling
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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Peter Perez
Senior Marketing Manager

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  • Anne February 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Wow, I must say, this recipe looks really intriguing–and manageable for an amateur cook like me. Although onions can be a polarizing food for some, I’m a fan and would definitely try making this.


  • Hope February 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    It looks amazing!! I would definitely try it. I love citrus with heartier flavors.


  • Uncle Beefy February 24, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    While an avid baker I do tend to stay on the sweet side of things so something like this would get me outta my rut! And I j’adore all the flavor components! Mmmm, mmm.


  • Jeanne Duperreault February 24, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Sounds delicious and simple. Big fan of fennel and orange combo; will definitely try it.


  • Lindsay February 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    I love savory baking – I can’t wait to try this one out


  • Erica February 24, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    This sounds really interesting! I think it’s because I’ve always considered shortcake as something sweet (i.e. strawberry shortcake), not savory.


  • mary February 25, 2010 at 6:21 am

    This looks amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with fennel, and I love anything citrus-infused. It also seems like something I could prep ahead of time and bake when guests arrive. Adding to my must-make list!


  • Peter March 1, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Fennel is so amazing–I had never eaten much of it before moving from NY to SF, and I must say that it’s one of the most underrated vegetables by far. It has such flavor versatility from raw to cooked state. This shortcake is divine to say the least…


  • Peter March 3, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks for your post ‘Uncle Beefy’–you are the winner of “Savory Baking”! Always appreciate the commentaries from all. And happy savory baking to all.


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