This recipe for Stone Fruit Almond Upside-Down Cake works equally well using any kind of stone fruit or a mix of every kind of stone fruit, including plums, apricots, nectarines, peaches and plumcots.
The appeal of the mixed-fruit version ‚Äî the rainbowlike beauty of the unmoulded cake in concert with the rich chord of its flavours ‚Äî edges out the monochrome visuals and taste of a cake made with just one kind of fruit.
I have specified using firm ripe fruit for this recipe. If the fruit is very ripe, it’ll be too ripe ‚Äî mushy and difficult to slice. However, very firm unripened fruit will work well, too. Baking those guys simultaneously tenderizes them and amps up their flavour.
The only hurdle when cooking with stone fruit is de-stoning it. The best way to do the job is to slice around the natural seam, preferably with a serrated knife. Then you twist the two halves apart to expose the pit, much as you would with an avocado. Lastly you pluck out the pit with your fingers, if it’s loose enough, or scoop it out with the aid of a melon baller. Now it’s easy to rest the two halves flat on the counter and slice them into wedges.
The heart of this recipe’s allure hinges on the contrast between the fruit’s tartness and the cake’s sweetness. That sweetness resides in the almond paste, so be sure not to use marzipan, which is much more sugary and would make the cake cloyingly sweet.
This cake is a cinch to throw together using a mixer, but the ingredients should all be at room temperature to develop the proper texture. If you’re able to prepare and serve this cake while it’s still hot, your guests will really be wowed, but it’s plenty tasty at room temperature, too. Either way, don’t forget to top it off with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
Stone Fruit Almond Upside-Down Cake
Start to finish: 1 hour 25 minutes (45 active)
Servings: 8 to 10
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pound stone fruit (apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, plucots or a mix), pitted and cut into 1/3- to 1/2-inch thick wedges
4 ounces almond paste
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/4 cup apricot jam
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons of the butter, the brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract. Lightly grease the sides of an 8-inch square cake pan; spread the brown sugar mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Arrange the fruit wedges in one layer, decoratively on top of the brown sugar mixture.
In a food processor combine the almond paste and the sugar; process the mixture until it is finely ground. Transfer it to a large bowl, add the butter and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is incorporated before adding the next one and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula between each addition.
In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the almond mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Spoon the batter over the fruit slices, spreading it evenly. Bake the cake on the middle shelf of the oven until a skewer, when inserted, comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes on a rack. In a small saucepan combine the apricot jam and 1 tablespoon water; cook over medium-low heat until the jam is melted and smooth. Add additional water if necessary to make the jam loose enough to brush on the fruit. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a serving platter. Brush the fruit with the jam and serve the cake with the whipped cream or ice cream.