If Vashon ever fancied a name-change, I would suggest Potluck Island, for we are a friendly folk who mark the march of time and life through communal sharing, dining and covered dishes. We pride ourselves on bringing more to the table than chips and dip.
Peach upside down cake has turned summer of potlucks right side up for this islander. Don’t get me wrong. I love pie, but it’s a four-hour construction project, whereas peach upside-down cake shines as an easy-to-make dessert basted in caramel, shining with sautéed fruit and chockablock with flavor and delectable texture. In just over an hour, a star is born.
The recipe also offers an added bonus of versatility; you can use any dense or stone fruit you want from apples, to quince to pears, apricots, nectarines and plums. As a seasonal heavy lifter, upside-down cake can take on just about any fruit, any time of year.
If you’ve never made an upside-down cake, here’s what to expect. You basically sauté fruit in a caramel bath, then top it with a creamy-thick cake batter, which is baked into a moist mattress of crumb saddling a mother lode of fruity madness. (Do I have you, yet?) You let it cool for 15 minutes, then put a plate over the baking dish or pan, and flip it carefully. The upside-down cake is born on the platter beneath, and the angels will proceed to sing, and you will begin to weep. Yep, that good. Serve with whipped cream, remain seated.
Peach Upside Down Cake
Ingredients 3-4 peaches
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract (or vanilla)
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350°F. In 10-inch cast iron or ovenproof pan, add 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of butter. Heat, melt and mix to create a slurry. Cut thick slices of peaches and arrange atop sugar/butter mixture in pan. No need to peel.
In separate bowl, mix sugar and butter until fluffy. Add room-temperature eggs one at a time. Mix until light and pale yellow, about a minute.
In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients: flour, salt and baking powder. Add to liquid mixture until fully incorporated. Add milk slowly to create a thick batter. Add almond extract. Mix until combined.
Step 4 (assembly)
Pour batter over peaches, and gently smooth from middle to sides. Batter will even out during baking. Bake for about 45 minutes or until top is golden. Remove from oven.
Let pan cool for 15 minutes. Place a larger plate over the pan. Hold plate firmly with pan and flip away from you as gently as possible. The cake will slide down and rest on the plate. Remove the pan. Cool and serve with whipped cream.
Throughout the seasons, The Beachcomber features photos and recipes from Tom Conway, who has a hearty appetite for growing and cooking good food, and putting in a good day on his Vashon farm. Bon appetit!