Now this is what I’ve been waiting for: the season of stone fruits is now in full swing. Stone fruits are what they sound like - tree fruits that have a stone-like pit in the center, including peaches, nectarines, plums and cherries. These treasures are delicious eaten out of hand, the abundant juices running down your chin on a summer day in the orchard.
Better yet is to incorporate them into fruit-forward baked creations that highlight their amazing flavor. Luckily for me, the uncle of a good family friend owns an orchard in Georgia. Our friend travels down there from Ohio every summer to fetch peaches for us. This year my mom, sister and I split a half bushel which means that I ended up with about two dozen peaches. The good news is that they are Red Havens, touted as the most beloved of peaches and standard by which all other peaches are judged. Red Havens are semi-freestone, at their peak in August and extremely versatile.
When purchasing peaches, keep in mind that they should be noticeably heavy for their size, and firm but not hard. A minimum of green tinge is optimal and they should smell like peaches! Peaches should ripen on their own at room temperature over 2-3 days. As they ripen, you may see small, dark patches appear on the skin. These are “sugar spots”, areas of concentrated sweetness and enhanced flavor, so no need to worry. Once ripe, you can stash peaches in the refrigerator to buy a bit more time, but the delicate flavors will begin to wane. Time to get baking!
So that’s where I find myself right now. At least several summer desserts lie in my future given the quantity of peaches in my kitchen. I’ll begin with one of my all-time favorites, peach upside down cake... caramelized stone fruit atop a tender, moist buttermilk cake. And flipping the upside-down cake right side up is easier than you think.
Peach Upside Down Cake
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Adapted from Chicken and Egg by Janice Cole
For the topping:
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2-3 ripe but not overly soft peaches (depending on size; about one pound), peeled (see note below) and sliced 3/4 inch thick
2/3 cup fresh raspberries (optional)
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove eggs from the refrigerator (room temp eggs beat up better and ensure lightness of the cake). Spray a 9 x 2-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.
2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, lemon juice and allspice; cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and bubbling.
3. Pour mixture into the bottom of the cake pan. Arrange the peach slices over the sugar mixture in an overlapping spiral design. If desired, scatter the raspberries over and around the peaches; set aside.
4. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.
5. In another large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer at medium speed for 1 minute until smooth. Add granulated sugar and almond extract; beat for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. The mixture should be almost white in color.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
7. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and beat in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
8. Spoon the batter over the fruit in the pan, gently spreading to cover.
9. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until a wooden skewer inserted into the cake center comes out clean, and the top is deep golden brown and springs back when gently pressed. The center of the cake needs to be firm to support the weight of the fruit when inverted.
10. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides of the cake. Place a serving platter upside down on top of the cake pan. Using potholders, grasp the side lips of the pan with your fingers and the platter with your thumbs. Invert! If the cake resists releasing give the inverted pan a gently up-and-down shake and/or knock gently on its underside to give it an assist.
11. Cool cake for 20-30 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature. For extra decadence, serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or creme fraiche.
To easily peel peaches, draw a small X on the bottom of each peach with a small paring knife, just cutting through skin.
Plunge peaches into a pot of simmering water for about 60 seconds, just until skin loosens.
Dip into a bowl of ice water; remove and allow to cool slightly. Gently peel using a small knife.
Have an excess supply of peaches on hand? Read more about stone fruits and make our cobbler recipe or try your hand at jam making. You can even use your peaches in savory ways such as this delicious salad. Stone fruits are indeed quite versatile, so share your creations online in our private Facebook group this week and meet our #tcbcookingchallenge.