Nectarine Upside-Down Cake

Two years ago, I lived in downtown Los Angeles among the hustle bustle of high-rise buildings and endless construction and traffic.  My valiant efforts at growing herbs on my rooftop patio were constantly thwarted by the sooty layer of city grime that always covered my plants.  So, when we moved to a house in the suburbs with a yard, high on my wish list was a garden of edibles including fruit trees.  Fast forward to the present, and those fruit trees have produced their first crop.  After eating more white nectarines in a month than I’ve previously eaten in a year, I decided to bake with them too.  This Nectarine Upside-Down Cake takes everything good about nectarines and amps it up 100% with a caramelized layer of nectarines resting on top of a tender, vanilla-almond cake.

Even though the tree was small, the fruit was plentiful.
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Tree-ripened, just picked, super sweet and juicy nectarines are a little slice of heaven.IMG_9095[1]

Upside down cakes look so demure and unassuming in the pan…
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But when you flip the pan over, the nectarine party is in full swing.IMG_9107[1]

Nectarine Upside-Down Cake

Makes one 9-inch round cake
(adapted from Fine Cooking)

Ingredients

7 1/2 ounces (15 tablespoons) unsalted butter (3 tablespoons melted, 12 tablespoons softened; more for the pan)
3 tablespoons demerara or other raw sugar
4 to 5 nectarines, cut into wedges (you can keep the skin on)
6 3/4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or paste
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven,  and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  3. Pour the 3 tablespoons of melted butter into the pan, and tilt so that the butter covers the bottom.
  4. Sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the bottom.
  5. Lay the nectarine wedges over the bottom in snug concentric circles, starting from the edge. Set aside.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  7. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the 12 tablespoons of softened butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  8. Beat in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next.
  9. Add the vanilla and almond extracts.
  10. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined; the batter will be very thick.
  11. Use a silicone spatula to spread the batter over the nectarines, being careful not to move them. Smooth the top.
  12. Bake until the cake is dark brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  13. Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 20 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert onto a cake plate. Remove the cake pan and parchment, and let the cake cool completely before serving.

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