I have a long history of hating cooked peaches—something about the texture—but I am coming around. I mean, peach is never going to be my first-choice flavor for anything, but I’ve embraced a peach tart, so maybe miracles do happen.One peach dessert that I am crazy about? This Peach Upside-Down Cake. Not only is it very delicious and very peachy, but it couldn’t be easier to make.Melt some butter and brown sugar together and lay some thin slices of peach on top in any design you like. I overlapped mine slightly because I didn’t want much “plain” cake peeking through. There’s no need to get too fussy with it, as the peaches release quite a bit of liquid during baking and lose some definition.Next up, spoon some cake batter over the top of your peaches. I’ve used a brown sugary version of my vanilla layer cake batter in past upside-down cakes, but changed it up with a simple vanilla-almond torte batter this time and…well, I don’t think I’m ever going back. The batter is a snap to make, and produces a thin, buttery layer of cake that nestles perfectly into the peaches.
You’ll notice that I left pie spices out of this cake completely. I tried the tiniest pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg in both the topping and cake batter, but they overwhelmed the fresh peach flavor. No, thanks—peaches or bust! The only flavor I added to this dessert is the tiniest bit of almond extract in the cake batter. Rest assured, it only enhances the fruit, rather than detracting from it.This cake bakes up in about 40 minutes and only needs to rest for fifteen before it’s flipped onto a serving plate. Again, don’t worry if your peach slices aren’t perfectly defined—mine certainly weren’t but they were still gorgeous and dang delicious.Once your cake is out of the pan, it’s up to you whether you want to enjoy it warm, room temperature or cold. I personally like a warm room temperature slice, so that the cake slices cleanly and the brown sugar topping is pleasantly gooey. Whatever you do though, don’t skip the ice cream or whipped cream. I mean, I forgot them here and everything was still good, but there’s something about cold creamy anything and peach cake that is simply not to be missed.
Peach Upside-Down Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake
For the peaches:
3-4 large ripe peaches (or 5-6 medium peaches)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
For serving (optional):
vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside.
Slice peaches in 1/4-inch slices. No need to peel.
In a small saucepan, combine butter and dark brown sugar. Place over medium-low heat and stir constantly until butter and sugar are melted and fully homogeneous, 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Pour mixture into a 9-inch round cake pan, using a silicone spatula to spread it over the entire bottom of the pan.
Top the brown sugar mixture with single layer of sliced peaches, slightly overlapping them for the prettiest effect, in any design you like. Set aside.
In a small-medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until very light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in granulated sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and almond extracts. With the mixer on low, mix in dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.
Drop batter in spoonfuls over the peaches. Use an offset icing knife or the back of a spoon to spread it in an even layer. Tap the pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge a couple of times. Place a cake stand or large serving plate upside down over the top of the pan. Holding on to the plate and pan with oven mitts, quickly invert them so that the plate is right-side-up and the pan is now upside-down. Tap the top of the pan a time or two to help the cake release. Lift off the empty pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan, just nudge it back onto the cake with your fingers or a spoon.
Serve cake warm, room temperature, or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.
Cake is best the day it’s baked, but will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.