This cake was one of the best tasting disasters I have ever produced. Yes, you heard me right: disaster. You know how you can think that you're making all the right moves when baking, but then suddenly something happens that makes it all go horribly wrong? Well, that's exactly what happened with this cake.
There were multiple very ripe peaches in the refrigerator that I was more than happy to bake into something to get rid of them before they turned to total mush. I flipped through my cookbooks and found a tasty-looking recipe for peach upside down cake. This was my first time blanching peaches, and it actually went pretty well. Some of the peaches were overly ripe and turned into orange-yellow goo, but I salvaged what I could and kept moving forward, determined to finish what I had started. I managed to get everything in the oven and then take the baked cake out to let it cool for a while. This is when things did not go so well.
For an upside down cake, you are, as the name suggests, supposed to create it upside down so that the top is on the bottom of the pan. You then you flip the cake onto a plate to get it oriented the correct way. I did not have a plate large enough to fit over the top of the skillet, so I used the bottom portion of a cake container. As I held the skillet in one hand and put my other hand over the top of the cake container, I realized that the skillet might be too heavy for me to maneuver with just one arm. But being the only person home, it was up to me to do it solo. Getting ready to put all the strength I had into flipping over the skillet, I slowly counted to three. "One...two...three!" As I uttered the last syllable, I quickly flipped the skillet over and to my horror, the cake went flying off the side of the cake container bottom and lay in a gooey mess all over the counter beside it's intended destination. I just stared at it open-mouthed and felt tears welling up in my eyes. So I stood there for minutes, as pathetic as can be, with my dog noisily licking up the scraps that fell on the floor by my feet. All that work for nothing. FML, indeed.
I did eventually get over it after storming out of the kitchen and watching mindless TV for a while. I then came back and tasted my mess to see if it was even any good. Oh my goodness was it! The cake is so tender and moist, and the peaches are sweet and full of flavor. It might look like slop, but it sure doesn't taste like it. I even managed to get a slice onto a plate and make it look decent to take pictures of. I also scooped the best portion of the cake back into the skillet to keep for later. Next time, I think I'll just keep it in the skillet and forget the flipping...
3 1/3 cups peeled, pitted, and sliced (1/3 inch thick) peaches (9-10 medium peaches)
3 tbsp plus 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar (divided)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, slightly softened
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk (divided)
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Get all you peaches together and peal, pit, and slice them, placing the slices in a large bowl.
Zest your lemon for that citrusy goodness.
In a large bowl, gently stir together the peaches, 3 tbsp of the brown sugar, and the lemon juice. Set aside until the sugar dissolves and the peaches begin to release their juice, about 15 minutes. Put the peaches in a strainer or colander set over a bowl and let stand until thoroughly drained, 15 to 20 minutes.
In a 9 1/2"-10" (2" deep) flameproof round casserole or nonreactive ovenproof skillet, stir together the remaining 2/3 cup brown sugar and the butter. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a long-handled wooden spoon and watching carefully to prevent burning, until the butter completely melts and the mixture bubbles. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Standing back to avoid steam and splatters, stir all the juice drained from the peaches into the sugar mixture until evenly blended. Cook, stirring, until bubbly. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles briskly but doesn't burn. Cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes longer, or until the caramel is boiled down to the consistency of thin gravy. Remove from the heat.
Attractively arrange the peaches over the caramel mixture. .
I had lots of leftover peaches, so I just dumped the rest on top...
To make the batter, in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and sugar until well blended and lightened, about 1 minute.
Add the egg, lemon zest, and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes longer, or until very light and fluffy.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in half the flour mixture just until incorporated. Then beat in half the milk just until incorporated. Lightly beat in the remaining flour mixture, then the remaining milk, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Raise the speed to medium and beat just until the batter is well blended and smooth, 1-1 1/2 minutes longer.
Pour the batter over the fruit, spreading it evenly with a table knife.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake surface is nicely browned.
Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Now you can flip this cake onto a plate if you would like, but just eating it out of the skillet is good as well.