I love to bake. It’s one of my favorite things to do. Actually, one of my goals in life is to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I’ve come somewhat close, but it’s still a work in progress. With most baking, you tend to use quite a bit of butter. Back when I had an apartment, I would buy butter at Costco and freeze it because I wanted to always have it on hand incase a situation arose that required me bringing baked goods.
On the Aldea Luna Nature Reserve, a large majority of the ingredients come from the garden and there isn’t always the standard items I’m used to having in my kitchen, that is, back when I had a kitchen. While out on a walk, John, Romain and Sam came upon a peach tree and picked some fresh peaches to bring back to the house. We obviously needed to bake something with them because peach desserts are amazing! Although, perhaps I’m slightly biased since I grew up in the Peach State.
I pulled out my iPad and flipped through all the copies of Southern Living that I had downloaded to see if we could find any good recipes. Fortunately, in the June 2012 Southern Living there was a section about peaches, Peaches: Summer’s first blush, which had a recipe for a delicious sounding Peach Upside-Down Cake.
I should also mention that there is no oven. Everything is cooked stovetop. Hmmm…baking a cake with no butter or oven. It would be a bit of a challenge.
There also wasn’t light brown sugar, cake flour, a vanilla bean or sour cream. For the light brown sugar, I added molasses to granulated sugar to create brown sugar (although it was probably more dark than light); instead of butter, I used oil; instead of cake flour, I just sifted all-purpose flour; instead of the vanilla bean, I just used vanilla extract; and instead of the sour cream, I juiced a few fresh mandarin oranges.
I’m insanely methodical with following recipes, so since this was my first time winging it, without the internet to research other options or cell phone service to text my mom for advice. I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
Everything was actually coming together quite smoothly. The sugar was melting and was close to a pretty amber color, the batter was ready (and tasted quite good), the peaches were sliced and it was all ready to be assembled. I added the oil to the sugar and stirred vigorously and created a huge rock, hard mess. Okay, maybe I was distracted and didn’t stir fast enough. Take two yielded the same results. I guess oil for butter isn’t a good substitute when creating a caramelized sugar top.
On the third time, I just melted the sugar, skipped the butter step and mixed it with the brown sugar. For good measure (and incase the whole thing stuck to the bottom), I added a few drizzles of oil on top of the sugar before adding the peaches.
The cake actually turned out pretty well. The top didn’t come off completely, but with a little knift and fork action, it almost resembled the cake in the magazine photo. Almost! As a topping, I used the remaining sliced peaches with sugar and water to create a peach glaze/syrup. It ended up being pretty tasty, so I can’t wait to try it the actual way to compare!
If you want to give this cake a try the original way, here is the recipe. If you’re feeling more adventurous, feel free to give my modified method a go. 😉
- 4 medium peaches (about 1 ½ lbs), unpeeled and cut into thick wedges
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup cake flour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
- ¾ unsalted butter, at room temperature and divided
- ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup sour cream
- Preheat oven to 350º. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (This helps with cleanup.) Toss peaches with lemon juice. Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
- Cook 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, 10 minutes or until sugar melts and turns a deep amber color. Remove from heat. Immediately add 1/4 cup butter, stirring vigorously. Spread caramelized sugar to coat bottom of skillet evenly, and sprinkle with brown sugar. Arrange peach wedges in concentric circles over sugar mixture, overlapping as needed.
- Split vanilla bean lengthwise, and scrape out seeds into bowl of a heavy-duty electric stand mixer. Beat vanilla seeds and remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup butter at medium speed until smooth. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add sour cream, beating until blended. Gradually add sifted flour mixture, beating at low speed just until blended and stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Spoon batter over peaches in skillet, and spread to cover. Place skillet on prepared baking sheet.
- Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in skillet on a wire rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen.
- Carefully pour out any excess liquid from skillet into a measuring cup, and reserve. (It’s okay if you don’t have any excess liquid–it all depends on how juicy your fruit is.) Carefully invert cake onto a serving plate, and drizzle with any reserved liquid. Cool slightly (about 10 minutes). Cut cake into wedges using a serrated knife. Top with sweetened whipped cream, if desired, and serve immediately.