This is one cake that tastes best upside down!
My growing inner foodie thinks to seasonality more and more as I spend more time in the farmers market and keeping up with what is fresh, seasonal and which stands have the best __(insert fruit/veg here)___, so last year, while I was looking into more exciting recipes to file away, I found a great recipe for nectarine upside down cake - of course, just in the last couple weeks of nectarines last summer and they were not very good looking or tasting so I missed my opportunity.
So this spring, when we returned from our vacation in the states, we started combing the stalls at the farmers market for nectarines. Last weekend, we managed to find the best looking (and tasting!) nectarines of the season, the first so far – and they were on sale!! We picked up ten up the most beautiful looking nectarines and took them straight home to ripen a bit longer in the fridge.
Today was the first day in a few days this summer that it hasn’t been 88 degrees in the shade, or our non-A/C, sauna of a home, so I took advantage of nap time and started putting together the batter, working up my courage to make the caramel topping for the cake. Mei and I sang songs and danced while I peeled nectarine after nectarine. While that step was probably not necessary, I just didn’t want the peel in the cake.
Horror stories. That is the kind of story we hear when we asked around to different people making caramels. Everyone has these bad experiences, throw up their hands, writes endless “bad” comments at the end of recipes and tips online. So of course, I was a bit tentative about making my first caramel! (here is a link for detailed instructions on making caramel)
Turns out it was completely unnecessary. I don’t know if people were distracted or let their caramel burn or what the problem was exactly, since no one ever went into detail exactly, but turns out it was super easy! But then this is coming from someone who made an extremely successful first souffle!… Do I have a knack for this stuff?… I don’t know, but the caramel was super yummy and delicious smelling! And since it requires minimal ingredients, then its easy to toss out a mistake and start again! So grab your saucepan and some sugar and head over to that stove and get cookin’!
In the end, the cake was delicious, seasonal, looked… meh – I think I can improve on that. So here are my notes!
- We are going to press the nectarine slices into the caramel so that they stick out from the caramel once it is inverted and layer the nectarines in two layers so there is more fruit in each bite!
- Use a little less butter to grease the pan, it really baked up hard at the crease in the pan, just in a tiny line – but now I’m a perfectionist!
- Put one tablespoon less butter in the caramel, so it is more rich tasting.
I paired my inaugural slice (ok, maybe it was two slices!) of cake with lavender Earl Grey tea, while watching the season four closer of Project Runway. Just a little bit of heaven on earth!
You can use any stone fruit or combination of fruit to make this cake, or go back to the classic pineapple upside down cake and it will be amazing! Since I have just enough buttermilk for another cake, I might make one to give away to a lucky friend!
- 6 TBS butter (plus extra for the pan)
- 1 C sugar
- 2 TBS water
- 4-6 fresh nectarines, halved, pitted and sliced
Butter a 10 inch cake pan, lining the bottom with parchment paper (just outline the pan and cut out the parchment so that it will lie flat in the bottom of your pan), but butter the bottom of the pan before you lay down your parchment paper.
Place water and sugar in a saucepan, over high heat, swirling the pan constantly, DO NOT STIR (!), until the mixture turns a golden caramel color. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and whisk in butter all at once, the mixture will foam.
- The caramel will looks foggy/smokey at first, then turn to large, thick looking bubbles, and just before the color changes, it will harden and look like the sugar is going to turn into a solid sugar layer – but keep swirling and it will loosen up, change color and become caramel!
- Dont remove from the heat until the color changes, just a couple of seconds to take pictures proved enough time for the sugar to start to become clumpy and flirt with disaster.
Pour the caramel into the bottom of the pan, on top of the parchment paper. Take your sliced nectarines and arranged them in the caramel until the bottom of the pan is covered with the fruit.
Ingredients for the Cake:
- 1 C sugar
- 1/3 C butter, softened (5 1/3 TBS)
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 C buttermilk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Add sugar and butter to the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment and beat until the mixture is combined and fluffy. If you listen to your mixer, it will change the sound of the beating, rather obnoxiously, when the butter and sugar are light. Add the eggs and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. You can hear this change also.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. Mix the buttermilk and vanilla in another, small bowl, until combined.
With the mixer on low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients and liquid ingredients to the butter mixture in thirds, blending each time until completely incorporated. We switched to the whisk attatchment for this task.
When the batter has been fully blended, pour the batter into the pan over the nectarines and bake. Rotate the baking pan every 15 minutes, baking for a total of 50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven and let the cake rest for at least ten minutes before inverting. Once inverted, peel off the parchment paper, slice and enjoy! (or just take your plate of cake with a side of fork to that dark corner of the closet and eat your cake quickly before anyone can find you, take your cake or demand that you share. Hehehehe.
We made the batter first, saved the caramel for last and then assembled the cake all at once and it worked out fine. We would also suggest that you set the cake pan on top of a baking sheet to catch any overflow from the butter and caramel that you may have.