Monday, August 18, 2014

Upside-Down Cake with a Late Summer Twist (and Salted Caramel!)

Here in the Black Hills, mid-August is winding down toward our long Autumn, and it's time for the late summer fruits and vegetables.

September is when the trucks from the Pacific Northwest arrive with cases of tomatoes, peaches, and pears.

A few of 2013's cases of produce.

I haven't decided how many cases I'll be buying this year, but whatever I buy will be going into the dozens of empty glass jars waiting on shelves in the garage.

But there's nothing like fresh fruits and tomatoes, is there?

This recipe came into to our house by way of my daughter's obsession interest in the Food Network and its magazine, appropriately called the "Food Network Magazine." The September 2014 issue has several recipes for upside-down cakes. She tried one, switched things around, and made this fantastic dessert.

Summer Fruit Upside-Down Cake with Salted Caramel

Caramel layer:

3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Fruit layer:

4 nectarines, peaches or plums, cut into 1/2" slices

1 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

First, make the caramel. You can either make it in an oven-safe skillet, like Carrie did, or you can transfer it from your skillet to a square baking dish.

Stir the sugar and salt together over medium heat until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Then continue cooking the caramel, swirling occasionally but not stirring, until it takes on a light amber color - about 5 minutes.

Pour it into your greased baking dish, or take your chances with the oven-proof skillet.

Next, layer your sliced fruit on top of the caramel.

Now, mix your cake batter.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.

In another bowl (the one that goes with your mixer), cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy - about 3 minutes.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, and then beat in the vanilla.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, one-third of each at a time. Begin and end with the flour mixture, and mix just until the ingredients are all incorporated.

Pour the batter over the caramel and fruit layer, and spread it out evenly.

Bake the cake at 375° for about 50 minutes, or until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (I always use the touch test: lightly touch the center of the cake with your finger. If the cake springs back, it is done.)

If the cake is browning too quickly, place a sheet of aluminum foil lightly over the top of the cake.

When it's done, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Carefully loosen the edges with a knife or spatula....

Invert it onto a platter....

Wait!!! Oh no!!!! What happened????

Inversion fail!!!!!

No worries. We can fix it.

Give the messy part to the boys. They won't care :)

And they won't care because it's so delicious!


  1. yum! I'm still not sold on that salted caramel stuff- haven't been impressed with the few food items I've tried - including brownies. I don't think anyone liked the brownies- even the friend who made them. :-( I didn't think it was possible to mess up a brownie.
    this looks tempting though!

    1. Like Kav said below, you can leave the salt out with no problem! Just caramelize the sugar without it :)

      The cake part of this recipe is the real winner. It would make a great base for a cinnamon coffee cake. Hmm....I feel another post coming on....

    2. Oh, I LOVE salted caramel!! It's a match made in heaven in my opinion. :)

  2. I'm till not sold on salt and sweet so I'm going to make this without the salt. I know, you're throwing rotten peaches at me, but I'm the one who has to live with my tastebuds. :-)

    I'm going to make this next week. I have a farmer's market about a twenty minute walk from my house. It's set up every Saturday. In addition to the veggies, they have baked goods including to-die-for organic whole wheat sour dough bread. Yum. Even organic meats and sheep cheese! Who knew? Anyway, I obviously only bring a certain amount of cash with me because I'd soon go broke buying everything I wanted. So this past Saturday I'd spent all the money I came with and on the way back I noticed a vendor with fresh peaches!!!! And I was out of money. Sob. Next week. Peaches first. Blissful sigh.

    Oh and I loved the inversion fail and quick fix. LOL. That happens to me all the time. Enjoyed seeing it happen 'live' to a pro.

    1. It sounds like you have a great farmer's market, Kav. And yes, you'll have to go for those peaches first next week!

      The fruit that shows up in our grocery stores isn't the best quality (we're off the produce route, so it travels from California east to Minnesota or somewhere, and then eventually back to us), and the farmer's market tends to be prohibitively expensive - unless you're buying the stuff everyone has too much of, like zucchini :)

      But this trucked-in produce from Washington and Oregon is perfect. Just-picked fresh, and in quantities to use for canning and freezing. I block off that Wednesday morning every year! (and then, of course, the week following that Wednesday to put up the cases of produce I buy!).

    2. We usually get the trucked in stuff too -- even in the grocery store in the summer. The farmers at the market are local so we are only getting what is in season and the prices are likely higher than the grocery stuff shipped from Mexico -- but the flavour? Fresh and local can't be beat.

      Plus I feel very strongly about supporting local farm families. We're losing way too many of them to corporate farms. Mind you I'm only buying for one, so the extra cost doesn't add up the way it would if I was buying if I had a family to feed at home.

      I even saw leeks there last week -- so I'm digging out my cream of leek and mushroom soup recipe which I haven't made in ages. Woot.

    3. Ah, there's the difference! We don't have many local farm families. This isn't farming country. People have backyard gardens, and a few grow extra to sell at the farmer's market. But no truck farms like we had back east. No fruit orchards.

      But we do support the local ranchers. We buy all of our beef locally. :)

  3. SALTED CARAMEL. YESSS!!! This looks just amazing.

    1. I KNEW you'd like the salted caramel, Tina!

      Actually, the way I shared this recipe isn't very salty. You may want to sprinkle a little freshly ground salt on the top to get that real salted caramel flavor.

  4. I love that you showed the mistake Jan!! That's the risk of making upside cake! It looks wonderful!

    1. We were so disappointed when the cake didn't come out of the pan correctly! We suspect we cooked the caramel a little too long in the first step...but then, baking it in the pan like we did meant we didn't grease it first.

      But it WAS delicious :)

      By the way - I finished "The Preacher's Promise" over the weekend. Great story, beautifully written. I loved the way you gave each character their own unique voice. I'm looking forward to reading the next one!

    2. Wait -- Piper has a book out? How did I miss that/ Just checked Amazon...woot...I'm not totally outdated since it was published the end of July. Going to buy it now.

    3. Thank you Jan, I appreciate that so much! Thank you Kav for going to buy as well...:) It's hard to keep up these days, isn't it?

  5. This looks amazing!! YUM! Thanks for sharing. I just pinned that gorgeous peach photo. :)

    1. Aren't those peaches beautiful? Just the perfect colors, and they were so delicious :)

      I can hardly wait until this year's batch!

  6. Jan, you had me at salted caramel. Looks absolutely delish! Especially in that cast iron skillet. YUM!

    1. Oh, this dessert was so good! I had trouble keeping my serving down to a small one :)

      And I love that skillet. With its deep sides, it's my every-day-pan.

  7. We just canned 40 jars of tomatoes yesterday. We have to work hard right now to keep our locavore lifestyle at least at 50%. I have a dream of 100% some day, but even in a good year, we're right around 50% of our food from local stores, farms, or the garden.

    1. I've seen pictures of your back yard! I think you can grow anything where you live!

      I hope to get a few fruits and veggies out of our little patch. The green beans are doing great right now.

  8. This I really need to.try, Jan!!! Love caramel! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

    1. Thanks, Sherida! I hope you like it :)

  9. I can't believe I almost MISSED THIS AMAZING GOODNESS!!!!!!! I was working and editing yesterday, and forgot to come over to the cafe, My Bad!!!!! Jan, I love upside down cakes. Oh I love them so much, and I've never thought of doing a carmelized sugar coating ahead of time! How perfectly wonderful is this?????

    Your canning jars are calling to me. We have so much abundant produce right now, that I long to put things in jars. I can't this year, we're too busy with day jobs and night jobs, but the Good Lord willing, I'll be canning good stuff next summer. That's part of my fun goal of full time writing/ part-time daycare and I can't wait! How fun to make jellies and jams and pickles and tomatoes again! :) Your jars look very merry!

    1. I hope I can get those jars filled again this year! Right now I have shelves of empties waiting...waiting....