I have a large collection of vintage cookbooks and enjoy just leafing through one now and then – looking at the old pictures and glancing at recipes as I go.  Occasionally,  a recipe will jump out at me and that was the case with one in a 1942 Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book.  This wasn’t one of the recipes published in the book, but rather one that had been chosen by the magazine from readers’ entries.  It was from a lady in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1948.  I love Concord grapes but have only made pie or jam with them.  Here was a chance to use some in a cake and I was eager to try.

I knew from previous experience that it takes a little time to prepare the grapes, but only one pound isn’t  that much to work with.  Removing the skins is simple – just make a little tear in the skin near the stem end and press the pulp out.

Having a food mill is a real time saver, but it’s also possible to put the cooked pulp through any kind of sieve or strainer.  The flavor of the grapes makes it all worthwhile.

This is my adaptation of a great old recipe.


Grape Topping:

  • 1 lb. Concord grapes
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar

Cake Batter:

  • 1 cup plus 2 Tblsp. cake flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

To make the grape topping:

Separate the grape skins from the pulp and set the skins aside.  Place the pulp in a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the pulp to a boil.  Then lower the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pulp is soft and juicy.

Sieve or run through a food mill to remove seeds.

Return the pulp to the saucepan and add the skins.  Stir in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.  Cook until the skins are tender, about 15 minutes.

There should be approximately 1 cup of pulp.

At this point the pulp can be used to make the cake, can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or can be frozen and then thawed for later baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8×8 inch baking pan.

To make the cake batter:

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, place the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Mix well, then add the shortening, milk, egg and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Pour into a well-greased 8×8 baking pan.  Spread the grape pulp mixture over the top of the batter – it will start to sink.

Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 45 minutes until top is golden brown.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes,

then invert onto a large plate.  Scrape any topping left in the bottom of the pan and spread over the top of the cake.

Serve warm and add whipped cream or topping if desired.

This is a very good cake and not as rich and sweet as most upside-down cakes.

Servings:  6 to 8