Sunday, May 23, 2010

Nectarine Upside Down Cake

Spring is in full swing. That means mouthwateringly fresh cherries, apricots, grapes and nectarines at the shuk. That means, I'm totally there and indeed on Sunday, I went into town and picked up some apricots, grapes and nectarines. (The cherries are still too expensive.) When I looked at the nectarines, I noticed that some of them were bruised and so I set out to look for recipes that called for nectarines. To complicate things more, I'm trying only to use the things that I already have in my pantry and fridge to clean out in the next couple of weeks. The winning recipe? This Nectarine Upside Down Cake, a variation of the Pineapple Upside Down Cake from the KAF Baker's Companion. Although this cake is a classic, I have to admit that I've never tasted one let alone made one so it gets points for expanding my repertoire. I must say though that this cake requires little effort and the result is nothing short of beautiful. I substituted fresh orange juice for the pineapple juice and dotted dried cherries in between the nectarine slices instead of the traditional cherries. The topping of margarine and brown sugar caramelize the top of the fruit and its juices lend moisture to the bottom of the cake as well. I thought the girls would be turned off from a cooked fruit cake, and some were and went straight for the banana cake, but they surprised me again and actually enjoyed it. Nothing of it remained. This type of cake is one I will definitely try again with different fruit and perhaps complementary cake flavors. Out of pure necessity, I baked this cake in a nine inch cake pan because I dont own a cast iron pan. Feel free to use either one.

Nectarine Upside Down Cake
from KAF Baker's Companion

5 tbsp butter or margarine
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
4-5 nectarines
small handful of dried cherries
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar

Preheat your oven to 350.

Pit and slice your nectarines. Set aside.
Place the margarine in a 9 inch pan.
Melt and swirl to coat the entire pan.
Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the margarine.
Arrange the nectarine slices in concentric circles around the pan.Place the cherries in the open spaces between the nectarines. Set aside while you make the cake batter.
 Place the eggs in a large bowl, beat until light and lemon colored.
Add sugar a bit at a time,
beating all the while.
Drizzle in the fresh orange juice and vanilla, again whisking all the while.
Add the dry ingredients,
and whisk to blend.
Pour over the fruit, spreading to cover, if necessary.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted come out clean.
Invert the pan onto a serving plate leaving the pan on for five minutes, giving the juices and fruit all a chance to detach. remove the cake pan and rearrange any fruit that has shifted. See that nectarine slice, bottom right? Just tuck it back into place. Serve!

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