Right next to apricots, I love, love good peaches. It’s almost the end of peach season and I am eating as much of it as I can! I have been buying these organic peaches from Spain. Every single one of them that I have eaten had been unfailingly sweet. So how can I not eat them? I have eaten the peaches cut, in salads, compotes, made them into drinks, dessert, and now in this cake. It’s all good!  I can vouch for the Spanish organic peaches and the Spanish doughnut shaped peaches. Every other peach I have tried this season can’t compare to them.

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I baked 5 renditions of this Peach Upside Down Cake before I was positively happy with the texture and taste of this cake as well as the caramel that the sliced peaches would have to sit on. Most recipes recommend that brown sugar be used for the caramel as it supposedly imparts a more ‘caramelised’ flavour. Forget about buying brown sugar for the cake. I have used both brown and white sugar. Plain caster sugar will do as long as you caramelise them to the right stage. To guide you, I have included detailed instructions and pictures below. I so enjoy the texture and flavour of this cake, I plan to use it as my base for future cakes. Oh how my waist line is suffering.

Peach Upside Down Cake

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 25 – 30 minutes
Inactive:
Level: Intermediate for the beginner baker.
Makes: 8″ (20.3cm) cake
Oven Temperature: 360F (180C)
Can recipe be doubled?
Make ahead? Keeps well tightly covered. After the first day, I refrigerate it. I warm it in the microwave before eating.

Ingredients

The caramel
1 oz (30g) unsalted butter
2.6oz (75g) caster sugar
The batter
2.1oz (60g) unsalted butter
3.8oz (110g) caster sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
4.2oz (120g) plain/all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites
Tiny pinch of cream of tartar
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon caster sugar
Others
1 peach

Method (this is very detailed as it is catered to those baking for the first time)

The caramel
1. Do not use a loose bottom cake pan to bake this cake. Turn oven on to 360F (180C), oven rack adjusted to lower middle position.
2. To make the caramel, in an 8″(20.3cm) round cake pan (2″/5cm in height), add the 1 oz (30g) unsalted butter and 2.6oz (75g) caster sugar. Place cake pan directly on burner and melt the butter and sugar on medium heat. I use an electric stove. If you use an open flame stove, use a lower heat setting. The entire process will take ~10 minutes.
3. After 5 minutes, the butter and sugar would have started to melt. It will then progress to a noisy bubble.
4. Watch the caramel, as there will likely be some areas where the sugar will brown faster. Shake the pan (with oven gloves, it will be hot) to even out the caramelisation. Use a silicon spatula if needed to help butter and sugar meld.

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5. Once you have a toffee coloured caramel. Turn off the burner and remove cake pan from stove otherwise the caramel might burn. Don’t leave any spatula/spoon resting on the caramel, it will stick.

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6. Slice the peach in half. Remove the stone. Slice peach into slightly thicker than 1/8″ (0.3cm) slices. When caramel is no longer hot, arrange the peach slices in one layer to cover the entire surface of caramel (cut smaller pieces to fit any holes). Set aside.

Prep the ingredients 
1. Remove the 2.1oz (60g) unsalted butter and the 1/3 cup milk from the refrigerator. You need to bring it to room temperature before using. The butter is ready to be creamed when you can push a finger down easily onto the butter and it leaves a firm impression. Then again, you do not want the butter to soften so much that it becomes ‘melty’ and greasy.
2. In the meantime, sift the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Whip the egg whites
1 .To get egg whites to whip up nicely, the whites should not have a spot of egg yolks in them. The mixing bowl and the beaters have to be wiped off with vinegar/lemon juice to remove any grease. At the end of this egg white whisking process, you want the egg whites to be able to stand at just ‘stiff peak stage’ -when you lift up the beaters/whisk, the egg whites will hold its point and not flop to the side.
2. Place egg whites into the mixing bowl and beat them on medium speed until slightly bubbly.
3. With the machine running, add the pinch of cream of tartar, increase speed one notch up and continue to run the machine.
4. After 1 minute, with the machine still running, add the 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of caster sugar gradually in 1/2 teaspoonfuls. Let the machine run 5 – 8 second after each sugar addition. Don’t rush adding the sugar. You want to build structure and volume. Rush through and you might end up with a little pool of egg whites right at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
6. Once all the sugar has been added, beat ~ 1 minute. Turn the machine off.
7. Check for the ‘stiff peak’ on your beaters/whisk. If it flops, you need to beat another minute. Don’t over beat and stop as soon as you reach the ‘stiff peak’ stage. Over beaten egg whites will have a ‘stiff peak’ but it will also be foamy and clumpy and that makes it difficult to fold into the batter and that means losing volume and height in your cake. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar
1. In another mixing bowl and reusing the beaters/whisk, cream the softened butter and sugar together on medium speed until it is light and creamy. Then, with a spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, to incorporate well.
2. Turn the machine back on medium speed, add 1 egg yolk and let the machine run for 1 minute. Stop the machine, again, scrape the bowl to incorporate.
3. With machine back on medium speed, add the last 1 egg yolk and the 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Same thing. Let the machine run 1 minute and scrape bowl.
4. For the last time, run the machine another 30 seconds at medium speed to make sure batter is evenly mixed. Remove the mixing bowl.

Fold in dry ingredients and milk
1. You will need to work quickly and with a light hand to fold in the dry ingredients and milk.
2. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture. Use a spatula or a wide face spoon to fold it in. Stop as soon as the last traces of flour is incorporated.
3. Next, add one third portion of the 1/3 cup of milk and fold in.
4. Continue to fold in dry ingredients and milk in the same proportion. You always end with the folding in of the dry ingredients.

Fold in the whipped egg whites
1. Dollop a small portion (~ 1/4 cup) of the whipped egg whites into the batter and stir that in to loosen up the batter.
2. Mentally portion the egg whites into 3 portions. Then, quickly and gently, fold in the egg whites in 3 rounds. Stop as soon as there is no trace of egg whites.

Pour batter into cake pan and bake
1. Pour the batter into the cake pan with the peaches/caramel. Level out the batter. Drop the cake pan 2x from a height of 1″ (2.5 cm) to get rid of large air pockets. Bake immediately for 25 minutes.

When is cake baked?
1. Check cake at 18 minutes, if it looks too brown, cover with aluminium foil and continue baking.
2. At 25 minutes, insert a cake skewer into cake. If it comes out clean, remove onto a cooling rack. If not, bake another 3 – 5 minutes and retest.

Turning cake out on to serving plate
1. After cooling for 5 minutes, run a spatula (silicon works best) round the sides of the cake to loosen. Choose a plate with a lip (to contain any dripping caramel). Place this plate over the cake pan and carefully turn the cake pan onto the plate. Watch out for any hot caramel. Remove cake pan. Let cake cool a little before eating.
2. Do not hold off turning the cake out onto the cake plate too long as the caramel would start to harden in the cake pan and will not come off with the rest of the cake.  I keep it in the cake pan 5 – 10 minutes max. For any longer period, set the cake pan back in the oven (assuming it is still warm) for the caramel to soften. Alternatively, set the cake pan over very low heat, on a burner.

Tips

Substitute peaches with any stone fruit -apricots, nectarine, plums.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

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