Today, I cooked a lovely summer brunch for a few friends and it’s a rule of mine to make the dessert first when preparing a big meal. Just think about it – cakes, cookies, pies, syrups – dessert food is stable and can chill out for a few hours without losing its taste or texture. It can also be messy from flour blowing out of the bowl, loud from the whirring mixer, and demanding from precise measurements of baking. Not to mention if you make it before your guests arrive, you’ll get to lick the beaters in peace.
This cake is also really quick and easy to make. I’ve provided instructions below to take the mystery out of perfectly peeled peaches – the secret is quickly hot then quickly cold. When fresh, tree-ripened peaches aren’t available at the farmers market, try this fluffy sweet recipe with the classic canned pineapple over-under. Or maybe apples or pears with a bit of cinnamon in the fall!?!
Peach Upside-Down Cake
3 very ripe peaches
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup shortening (or softened butter, minus salt later)
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 large egg
Step 1 – Peel Peaches
Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Prepare an ice water bath in a large mixing bowl. Add peaches to boiling water and boil for 30 seconds only. Remove peaches to ice bath with a slotted spoon. After 10 seconds in cold water, remove peach to cutting board and gently pinch and pull skin from the bottom to remove. This should be easy if peaches are ripe. If difficult, use a knife to finish peeling. Be careful not to let the slippery naked peaches roll off of the counter.
Step 2 – Caramel Bottom/Top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add 1/4 cup of butter to a 9-10″ cast iron skillet or baking pan and melt in the oven.
Gently hold a peach in your non-dominant hand, stem end up. Carefully slice peaches by rocking from top to bottom around the pit. When you make it all the way around, gently loosen flesh from pit.
When butter is melted, sprinkle brown sugar evenly through pan. Artistically arrange peach slices on top. (The leftover slices are good for the eating.)
Step 3 – Cake batter
Using a mixer, cream shortening and sugar together in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and beat until well blended. Pour batter over peaches in skillet and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Step 4 – Rightside-Up
After pulling the cake from the oven, allow to cool for about 5 minutes. (I always wait too long and leave bits of fruit stuck to the pan.) Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen cake. Place a large, heatproof plate over skillet or pan. Grasp the underside of the pan with your fingers (oven mits!) and hold the plate steady with your thumbs. Flip towards you, set plate on counter, remove pan, and VOILA! (If any peaches or cake get stuck, carefully scrape it onto the cake and use the caramel to hide the evidence.)
Keep an eye out for my next few posts on the brunch menu! Summertime fresh.