Monday, July 27, 2015

Happy Birthday with Upside Down Cake

My dear sister-in-law had a birthday 2 weeks ago, but she was busy at the time and we couldn't get together. Normally I make a nice dinner and whatever dessert she prefers. She is in love with peaches. This year I suggested a Peach Upside-Down Cake, something I had not made in ages. We celebrated together yesterday evening.

Peach Upside-Down Cake

Her dinner menu request was the Individual Bacon-Wrapped Meat Loaves, a la Michael Symon, my Green Beans with Gorgonzola and oven fried potatoes of some kind. I made the potatoes in my own version of the Dried Onion Soup potatoes, where you peel and cut potatoes into cubes about 1-inch square and mix them with one packet of dried onion soup mix and 1/4 cup oil. Toss well, place into an oven safe casserole and bake at 400 degrees, tossing them once halfway through, for about 45 minutes total. The difference was that I used my own Dried Onion Soup Mix for this.

Peach Upside-Down Cake
As I have been on a no sugar and few carbs menu for about 3 months while adding in myriad fermented foods (and losing 7 pounds so far in the bargain), I didn't want to make a big birthday cake and have too much around the house. Too much temptation for a sweet tooth like mine! This cake was just perfect. While sweet, it was less so than a two layer cake with frosting between and outside the layers. My preference would have been to use fresh peaches, but was unsure of the right timing for those perfectly ripe peaches, so I opted for the safe route and bought canned peaches. 

This cake is made with buttermilk and is very moist and tender. The maraschino cherry garnish was just for a pop of color, more than any flavor. I cut the cherries into quarters and tucked one little quarter at the outside edge of each peach slice, as a sort of punctuation mark. Here is the recipe:

Peach Upside-Down Cake

Peach Upside-Down Cake
makes 8 servings


1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can peach halves 
maraschino cherries, optional
pecan or walnut halves, optional

1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), at room temperature

1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon peach flavoring, optional
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water for the topping. Stir gently over medium high heat until the mixture begins to boil. Cover the pan tightly and cook for about 4 minutes, to ensure all the sugar crystals have melted from the sides of the pan. Have ready a 9-inch cake pan, or an 8 or 9-inch square baking dish and spray with cooking spray. Remove the lid from the caramel and allow it to cook for 8 to 12 minutes more, or however long it takes for the mixture to become a light amber in color. Set the prepared pan onto a surface where the heat will not cause damage (such as a cool burner on the stove. As soon as the caramel reaches light amber color, pour it into the prepared pan. Allow the mixture to spread evenly to cover the bottom of the pan. Let the caramel cool for 4 to 5 minutes, until it has begun to set. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain the peach halves and slice thin wedges, about 5 or 6 per half peach. Once the caramel has set, place the peach wedges decoratively onto the caramel. Be careful, as the pan will still be very hot. Decorate with bits of cherries or nuts if desired.

Make the cake: Cream the stick of butter and add the sugar, beating until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a few seconds to combine, after each addition. Add in the flavoring(s). In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Begin adding about 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk, then another third of the flour mixture, then buttermilk and then flour, until the mixture is well combined and no remaining dry flour is visible. The batter may be stiff. Spoon the batter carefully over the peach slices, gently smoothing the batter to the edges, being careful not to dislodge the peaches.

Bake the cake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out with only a crumb or two still attached. The top will be deep golden brown. Immediately invert the pan onto a plate large enough to accommodate the cake. Let the cake and pan remain inverted for about 4 or 5 minutes before carefully lifting the pan up and off the cake. This resting period should help all the fruit to release easily from the pan. Serve slightly warm, if possible, though it is mighty fine cold, also!