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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Easy Upside Down Cake - Use up those peaches stashed in your freezer

Nearly every peach lover I know here in Colorado has a stash of peaches in their freezer. That's because Colorado grows some truly excellent peaches and they show up by the case almost every summer (sadly, some summers we get very little because Colorado is still a tricky place to grow peaches). I like to make a simple "sauce" with them to put on pancakes or waffles, or in oatmeal.

Without the nuts, you can see the peaches but I like it better with the crunch from the nuts
But sometimes, you need dessert. :-) This one is a straightforward spiced cake baked with a sweet topping of peaches and blueberries. It's the perfect cake for tea, coffee, or an informal dinner party. I brought it to dinner with some friends and it was a huge hit.

Unlike many cakes, you don't need an electric mixer, but you do need a heavy 10" skillet, like a cast iron skillet. You will also need a plate larger than the skillet on which to turn out the cake.

Upside-Down Peach and Blueberry Cake
(serves 10)

1 Tablespoon butter
6 Tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ½ Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
the zest of ½ a lemon (remember to zest it before you juice it)
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, not necessary to thaw)
¾ cup fresh or frozen peaches, thinly sliced

1 ½ cups sifted cake flour (measure after sifting)
1 teaspoon baking powder (¾ teaspoon at 5400 ft., Boulder altitude)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
⅛ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅓ cup vegetable oil (I prefer sunflower oil)
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup honey
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
⅓ cup skim milk

⅓ cup toasted almond slices for garnish (see Note)

Preheat the oven to 325°F and position an oven rack in the center of the oven.

Melt the butter in a 10" heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, corn syrup, and lemon juice. Stir until the sugar dissolves, about a minute. Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir in the lemon zest, blueberries, and peaches. Spread into an even layer. Set aside while you make the cake.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, honey, egg, almond extract, and milk. Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix together until well blended.

Pour the batter evenly over the fruit in the skillet. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean and the cake is golden.

Cool the cake for 4 minutes on a wire rack. Place a large plate on top of the skillet. Using heavy potholders (that skillet is still very hot), flip over the plate and the pan. The fruit and sauce shouldn't stick much, but if it does, use a spoon to scrape it out and arrange on the cake. Sprinkle cake with toasted almonds. Cool cake somewhat because it will be too hot to eat the sugary topping right out of the oven. It's delicious warm or at room temperature.

Note: To toast almond slices, put them in a small baking pan and put in a 300°F oven for about 8-10 minutes, stirring now and then so they brown evenly. Watch carefully because they can burn in a flash.

Adapted from Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too by Susan G. Purdy, William Morrow and Company, 1993.