Friday, July 29, 2011

Fresh Sweet Cherry & Nectarine Upside-Down Cake . . . with Honey Whipped Cream

As a kid, the only upside-down cake I ever encountered was the classic pineapple ring and maraschino cherry model. I couldn't stand the stuff. As I recall, my dad adored it. He was the only one in the family who showed unfettered interest. Not even my mom, devoted dessert lover that she was, could bring herself to crave the canned-fruit laden cake. As a rule, it was atrociously sweet, sodden with that sugary syrup and just not an altogether great concept. She'd make it for him, of course, but the woman had her standards; given the choice, she would always have opted for a slice of something chocolate.

I guess it's no surprise, then, why I've never launched with abandon into the production of that sticky, inverted confection. Those pineapple cakes may be endearing in a retro sort of way, but not enough so to motivate me into actually baking one. No siree.

But this cherry and nectarine upside-down cake, on the other hand, while bearing some resemblance to that toothache-inspiring item of yesteryear, isn't as cloying. Made with thin slices of ripe nectarine, fresh sweet cherries, honey, plain yogurt, a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a teeny tiny splash of peach schnapps thrown in to jazz things up, this baby's an improvement on that fusty old relic.

In fact, were the two cakes to pass on the street, I'd wager they'd acknowledge each other with a polite nod but, figuring they hadn't much in common, the pair wouldn't even stop to chat.

About this recipe . . .

Today's cake is adapted from a recipe in the gargantuan volume, Bon Appetit Desserts. It's a dream of a cookbook and, with 700+ pages, it's heavier than heck. Weighing in at 6.5 lbs., it's the size of a full-term newborn. They should sell it with a complementary stroller so readers can cart it around the house. Or, better yet, a forklift.

I customized the original recipe, which called for peaches along with a lot of spicy cardamom. What did I alter? In addition to using a combo of nectarines and cherries instead of peaches, I omitted the cardamom entirely, using just a little cinnamon and a scant pinch of nutmeg instead. I also added in a wee dab of peach schnapps, for a bit of zing, and I slightly increased the amount of salt (coarse kosher). Threw in the seeds of half a vanilla bean, and reduced the amount of granulated sugar in the cake by a small margin. In the honey whipped cream topping, I used less than half the amount of honey called for. (Have you ever mixed honey with heavy cream before? Fact is, you need a remarkably small amount to get the desired effect.)

With the adjustments, this cake is still sweet, but not ridiculously so. Some sweetness is just the nature of an upside-down cake. The flip-it-over-while-it's-still-really-hot concept wouldn't work without that gooey glaze permeating the top/bottom of the cake. In any case, if you want a concentrated sweetness infusion, an upside-down cake is definitely the ticket.

Fresh Sweet Cherry & Nectarine Upside-Down Cake 
with Honey Whipped Cream

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!) 

Yield: One 9" one-layer cake

6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (divided use)
1/4 honey (I used clover honey.)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 and 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Scant 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Scant 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, large
2 tsp. peach schnapps (optional)
seeds of half a vanilla bean (or, 1 tsp of vanilla extract)
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 medium size nectarines, pitted and thinly sliced in crescents (about 1/4" thick)
Approximately 16 fresh sweet cherries, pitted

For the honey whipped cream:
(Note: The original recipe suggested adding a little plain yogurt into this mixture. I didn't try that, but thought I'd mention it in case you'd like to give it a whirl!)
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
2 tsp. honey (Or use up to 2 Tbsp. if you want really sweet whipped cream.) 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in middle of oven. Liberally butter the bottom and sides of a 9" round cake pan. (After buttering, I took the extra step of lightly spraying the pan with vegetable oil spray; as far as I'm concerned, one can't be too careful where inverted cakes are concerned.)

In a medium size sauce pan, melt 2 Tbsp. of the unsalted butter. Add into that the brown sugar and the honey. Cook on medium high heat until the mixture begins to boil; stirring often, let boil for about 2 minutes or until the mixture begins to darken just a bit.

Remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour all of it into the buttered pan. Set the pan aside; the syrup will harden in the pan while you're preparing the rest of the cake.

 In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and kosher salt. In the bowl of your mixer, using the paddle attachment on medium high speed, combine the remaining butter and the granulated sugar until it looks somewhat fluffy. Beat the egg into this on medium speed, along with the vanilla been seeds, and the peach schnapps.

Pour in half the flour mixture on medium speed just until well blended; blend in all of the yogurt. Add in the remaining flour on low speed, just until blended.

Arrange the nectarine slices (you may not need to use them all) in a spiral design around the edge of the cake pan, over the hardened syrup. Arrange the cherries similarly in the middle of the nectarine spiral. Using a spoon, gently dollop the soft batter over the fruit, being wary not to disrupt the design. Smooth the top of the batter carefully to completely cover all of the fruit.

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake is golden and the sides begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Let the finished cake cool for only 5 minutes after removing it from the oven. At that point, have your serving platter ready and place it snuggly over the top of the cake.

Quickly invert the hot cake pan onto the platter and delicately lift the hot pan off. If all goes well, you'll be faced with a lovely fruit design atop a glistening cake. Let the cake cool before slicing.

To make the honey whipped cream: 

Whip the cream in your mixer on medium speed in a chilled bowl. Drizzle the honey in and whip until the cream forms soft peaks. Add more honey to taste, if you'd prefer the whipped cream to be sweeter. Keep refrigerated and serve over individual slices of the cake.

(If you'd like to comment on this post, or to read any existing comments, please click on the purple COMMENTS below!)


Unknown said...

This looks splendid, and I had no idea there was a device to pit cherries!

Jane said...

Hi Jennifurla,
Thanks! You know, I just love using that little doodad to pit cherries. It's a hoot!
:) Jane

june in ireland who loves to bake said...

Yep, I'm with you all the way regarding the OTT super sickly sweet upside down pineapple cake. It was a favourite dessert of my dad's, as well. My mother liked to bake anyway and had a sweet tooth, so she made this cake for him/the rest of us on a semi-regular basis. But, like you, even though I loved (and still love) cakes of all shapes and flavours, this wasn't one of my favourites - not by a long shot.

I love, love, love your alternative, though, and am definitely going to give this recipe a try.

Thanks for sharing.

kitchen flavours said...

Yes, the only upside cake I know when I was growing up is Upside-Down Pineapple Cake. I always thought it was a pretty cake with a cherry in the middle!
Your cakes looks beautiful and delicious! I have been eyeing that cookbook! Is it that good! Wow, it is a heavy book! Hope the binding is strong enough to hold all that weight!

Lois B said...

I'm with your dad and love the old pineapple version, but this might change my mind. Beautiful presentation! A friend said his mother used to make a rhubarb upside-down cake. I need to try that too.

Anonymous said...

Everything about this cake makes me happy. This is awesome for summer!

Jane said...

Hi June,
Yeah, I'm glad that those old pineapple cakes have kind of gone out of fashion. Maybe it's the fact that the fruit was canned that did them in? Or just the super sweetness? In any case, I definitely prefer the fresh fruit alternative!
Jane :)

Hey there Kitchen Flavours,
Yes, that is a good cookbook!! It's huge, as I mentioned, and so fun to wallow in. This was the first recipe I used from it, but there are zillions of others I want to try. Some of its recipes are more involved, but the majority are pretty simple, I think. You can get that book really cheap from Amazon. I noticed it on sale for something like $16.00 when it's supposed to retail for at least $35! It's definitely worth the investment.
Thanks very much,
Jane :)

Hi there Lois!
Rhubard upside down cake does sound intriguing. In fact, I stumbled on a recipe the other day, in a blog, for a rhubarb strawberry upside down cake that looked good. That's one to add to the list of cakes to try!
Keep on baking,
Jane :)

Dear WarmVanillaSugar,
What a cute comment! Thanks so much. You always say such nice things.
Jane :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Not until I became a food blogger (5 years ago) I got to know that there were other types of upside down cakes - I only knew the pineapple one!
Yours looks amazing! I love stone fruit and cannot wait for the end of the year to make this cake.

You made me laugh out loud with the newborn weight comparison... So true! :D


Unknown said...

I grew up with the pineapple upside down cake but it was now favorite. What you did though, could easily become a favorite. this is a recipe worth making. Thanks.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your upside-down cake looks fantastic and very tempting! I love my BA book.



~~louise~~ said...

I have many memories steeped in pineapple upside down cake which make it more sweeter than sweet.

One I recall was when I was around 12. As the designated Pineapple Upside Down cake "baker" I grew tired of the entire routine. To shake things up a bit, I used peaches from our peach tree to "surprise" everyone. Worried they would miss the pineappllie taste, I replaced the liquid in the recipe with the juice from the canned pineapples. Well, as luck would have it, as all my 12 year old creative juices were flowing, I botched up the entire cake by forgetting to add the butter with the brown sugar and not removing the skin from the peaches. Thinking the brown sugar wouldn't stick (after I realized my butter mistake) the cake would not come out of that pan, no way!

I've sinced "played" with "upside down desserts and smile to myself whenever I think of that disaster!

Now, I have more reason to smile the next time I bake one so I'll be saving your delightful creation for then:)

Thanks for sharing, Jane. And, thanks for "listening", lol...

Gloria Baker said...

Look amazing and delicious I love it!! gloria

Marigold Houseware Boutique said...

The Nectarine Upside-Down Cake looks to die for!!! Can I repost it on my Facebook page?

Luv'n Spoonfuls said...

Looks gorgeous...can't wait to give this a try, although I might skip the cherries as they haven't been that good right now at the market. I'm quite sure, though, that I can find something else to top this yummy recipe with ;-)

Anonymous said...

I happen to like overly sweet, sticky desserts so Pineapple Upside Cake is a winner in my book! I love your adaptations with the fresh fruit. I did something similar with fresh plums and cherries that turned out rather nice. Your comment about "the newborn baby" is just the best comment I've heard all day! Thanks for this lovely visit.