We mentioned that we made something else while waiting for the cinnamon bun dough to rise. Here it is! If you don't like nectarines, you can easily substitute peaches, plums, pineapple, or mangoes. We ran into a couples obstacles with this cake. First, after preparing the sticky, caramely topping, we had to let it sit for a while because the nectarines had not been cut yet. The mixture solidified, but a few minutes on the still warm burner melted it again and it turned out fine. Next, we had to hand whip the egg whites due to the lack of a hand mixer (the vacation home kitchen is not fully stocked with all of the handy dandy tools that we keep at home). It was a huge pain and we weren't able to get them to the required hard peaks because it was getting late, so the cake ended up a little dense. Still, it was declared the best breakfast of the Nantucket trip.
Nectarine Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Baking Illustrated
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 eggs, seperated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
- Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat.
- Add the brown sugar and cook, until the mixture is foamy and pale, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Take off the heat, and place the nectarines in concentric circles over the topping, (in the saucepan). Set aside.
- Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.
- Cream the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer at medium speed.
- Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar; continue beating until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the yolks and vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately, until the batter is just smooth.
- Beat the egg whites in the large bowl of a standing mixer at low speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high; beat to soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; continue to beat to stiff peaks.
- Fold a quarter of the beaten whites into the batter with a large rubber spatula to lighten.
- Fold in the remaining whites.
- Gently pour the batter on top of the nectarines in the sauce pan, be careful to not dislodge the fruit.
- Put the saucepan in the oven, and bake for 50 minutes.
- Rest the cake on a wire rack for 2 minutes. Slide a paring knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a serving platter over the pan and hold it tightly. Invert the cake onto the platter. Carefully remove the sauce pan.
The nectarines we used were so difficult to cut. We thought that if we cut it in half, we could pull the two halves apart and the pit would cling to one side. However, the nectarines were so soft that they were impossible to split without squishing, so Charlotte had to rip each slice from the pit individually.
The sticky topping was too hot to eat, but we stole a spoonful anyway. It was incredible.
We thought the pattern was so pretty! If we did this again, we would start the concentric circles in the middle and build out, rather than layer from the outside in.
The picture does not do this cake justice. It was beautiful. We were so thrilled with the results that we ran across wet grass to the other house to wake up Charlotte's parents late at night and share our joy.