"I hate people who are not serious about their meals."

Oscar Wilde,
The Importance of Being Earnest

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fresh Peach Upside-Down Cake

No other food makes me think summer like juicy, fresh peaches.  Well.. except perhaps equally juicy, fresh mangoes, but I've discovered the mangoes available in the United States are nothing like the mangoes I grew up with in Australia in looks or taste. They are small and red/green with a pale yellowy coloured flesh, not at all the big, fragrant golden mangoes I am used to. So despite my deep and abiding love for all things mango, I am now avoiding them to stave off further disappointment.  Anyway, back to the peaches. I was initially looking for a recipe to use up a rapidly browning bunch of bananas, and so I settled on a banana upside-down cake.  Unfortunately, when I went into the kitchen to begin baking I discovered that the bananas were rather more browned than I had first thought - that is, they were beginning to turn into complete mush. They would have been fine in the batter, but there was no way I could possibly cut them into presentable looking slices. Looking at the abundance of peaches in the fruit bowl, I decided to wing it and substitute the bananas for peaches. It turned out to be a great idea, resulting in a fabulous looking and wonderfully moist, but not heavy cake - a perfect summer dessert.

Fresh Peach Upside-Down Cake
adapted from David Leibovitz
makes 1 8-inch (20cm) square cake

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2-3 peaches


1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (30 g) melted butter
2 large eggs
1 cup peach puree (about 2 peaches, peeled and blended til smooth)
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preaheat your oven to 350F/180C.
Place the brown sugar and the water into an 8-inch
(20cm) square cake pan. Place the pan directly on your stovetop over low heat, and stir until all of the sugar is moistened. Simmer for 1 minute, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  While the sugar mixture is cooling, peel the peaches and cut into 1/4 inch (1cm) thick wedges. Arrange in overlapping rows over the melted sugar.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a large bowl and mix in the sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, peach puree, buttermilk, vanilla and almond extracts. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until just combined.  Carefully pour the batter into the pan over the peaches, and use a spatula to ensure it is spread evenly.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until the centre of the cake springs back when you touch it.

Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes. To remove from the pan, run a flat-bladed knife along the edges of the cake and invert on to a serving platter. Carefully lift the pan off to ensure no fruit gets stuck to the bottom - if it does you can always carefully reposition it.

Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream, if desired. 
To reheat the cake, place in a low oven and cover with foil.


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