Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oh My Nectarines!

I love the local summer fruit and the way it comes ready to go in those little paper baskets - so market-ish with that freshly picked feel. It's just too bad that you have to let them sit on the counter for a few days until you can eat them, and then I find myself swatting fruit flies for a couple of days before I give up and they get put in the fridge.

Where, inevitably, I forget about them becuase they get pushed to the back, and then in my crusading way to give all food a second chance before it gets thrown away, I am struck with the idea that they would (fingers crossed) make a delectable upside-down cake. Adios pineapple and hello nectarine!

The poor, slightly shrivelled, nectarines come out into the sunlight and are smothered with caramel and a rum infused batter, and it's as if they get a new lease on life.

Upside-down Nectarine Cake
adapted from Gourmet Magazine, February 2000

This is a wonderfully easy recipe, and it so moist. It keeps well on the counter, but you could refrigerate it for a couple of days longer (if it lasts that long), just bring it to room temperature before eating.

7 fresh nectarines
85g unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

85g unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup orange juice

Oven to 350F.

To make the topping: Prepare the nectarine wedges*. Melt the butter with the brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a 9" cake pan (no need to grease the pan), spreading quickly before it cools, to the edges. Arrange nectarine wedges in circles. I started from the outside ring, placing the nectarines so they looked pretty facing up, and then realised that I had to flip the wedges over so it would look pretty on the outside when I turned the cake out.

To make the batter: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and rum.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, and add half to the butter mixture, beating until just blended. Add the orange juice and mix well. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat slowly until just combined. Here I found that the batter looked slightly split.

Spread batter evenly over the nectarines and caramel. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Leave the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert carefully onto a large plate. Be careful, the caramel may still be hot. Luckily, all my nectarines turned out, but if any happen to be stuck to the bottom of the pan, remove and replace on the cake.

*To cut the wedges, I cut out one wedge from the nectarine and then continue slicing wedges around the pit. There may be a way, but I couldn't figure out how to get the pit out cleanly.


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