Friday, September 10, 2010

Stone Fruit Upside-Down Cake


Every year we do a peach and nectarine CSA share with RAMA farm (named after the farmers, Rick and Marilyn). These are the best examples of these kinds of fruits we've ever had, plus Marilyn and Rick are really nice people.

This year, instead of sharing a box with Evan's parents, we decided to go for it and get a whole box per week of our own (18-24 peaches or nectarines). Three weeks of peaches, two of nectarines. Well, even with our impressive stone-fruit-eating abilities, we've had some left over. Some of it I've turned into freezer jam. I've got 9 jars of peach already (at a ratio of 6 c. fruit to 2 c. sugar) and figure I'll have enough nectarines for a few jars, as well.

Evan and I got to have our first trip away from Elspeth this August and I wanted to leave a little something nice for her and my in-laws. I made the peach upside down cake shown.

Evan loved it so much that he requested it for his birthday cake. I made a gluten-free version which was slightly tougher than the one with wheat, but was still devoured by everyone. As a reminder, the gluten-free flour mix I use is 2 c. brown rice flour, 2/3 c. potato starch, 1/3 c. tapioca (not the pearls).

The only part of this recipe that confuses me is the part about melting the butter and brown sugar in the skillet. The butter melts just fine, but Madison says that the sugar should be 'melted and smooth'. The problem is, the brown sugar doesn't have time to melt all the way before the butter starts to burn. I had expected that the mixture would look like caramel, but it didn't either time I made it. Instead, I left it as long as I could and when I smelled the butter starting to burn, I just turned off the heat and spread the brown sugar-butter slurry as evenly over the bottom of the pan as possible. The good thing is, the end result is still delicious. The juice from the fruit mixes with the sugar and butter and makes a loose caramel. The edges of the cake are especially yummy, much like a pecan caramel sticky bun.

INGREDIENTS
5 ripe peaches or nectarines
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
3 TBSP butter
1/3 c. toasted chopped pecans or almonds

1/2 c. unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 c. evaporated cane juice
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs at room temperature
2/3 c. almond meal
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour or GF flour mix
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. As noted above, you may not get a fully liquid caramel. Take the pan off the heat if you smell the butter start to burn
  3. While the butter and brown sugar are melting, quarter the peaches or nectarines, removing the pit and the skins if using peaches
  4. Set the fruit quarters decoratively in the skillet, making a concentric circle from the outside edges to the center
  5. Sprinkle the toasted nuts into the gaps between the fruit pieces. Set aside
  6. In a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and evaporated cane juice until fluffy
  7. Add the almond and vanilla extract and beat in
  8. Beat in the eggs one at a time until the mixture is smooth
  9. Stir in the almond meal and then the rest of the dry ingredients
  10. Spoon the cake batter over the nectarines and use an offset spatula or butter knife to spread evenly
  11. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is golden and has started to pull away from the sides of the skillet
  12. Remove from oven and let sit a few minutes. Then loosen the cake edges with a butter knife along the sides of the pan
  13. Hold your breath and invert the skillet onto a large plate. If any fruit bits stay in the pan, just put them back on top of the cake. I've been pleased with how easily this cake has released from the pan. I haven't even lost any fruit!
  14. Serve warm or cold, with or without ice cream

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