Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Baking Fresh Cherry and Peach Upside-Down Cake on a Rainy Day

cherry upside slice cherries

Last Thursday I was driving home on the freeway at 3:45 pm when the local traffic report came on:

Well, the 163 in both directions is heavy. So is the 5 North and South and the 805. Looks like everybody is leaving work early to avoid the rain that San Diegans are expecting tonight.

Yup. It's true. Southern Californians leave work early when rain is expected. OK bloggers from Seattle, go ahead and laugh. We deserve it.

For the record, I have never left early because of rain. I mean what kind of a New Englander would I be? And what would my dad think of me?

I guess Southern Californians don't really know any better. Why should they? It hardly ever rains here, and when it does, it wreaks havoc. No, I'm not talking about flooding and mudslides. I'm talking about traffic. You can see a half dozen accidents on one commute and get stuck in a traffic jam that lasts hours. Seriously, it was easier to get home after the blizzard of '78 than it is to get home after a "heavy rain shower" here in SoCal.

So I avoided the madness by doing what any good blogger would do: I went home and baked a cake. Isn't there something so comforting about the aroma of baking wafting through the house as the rain patters gently against the windows?

cherry upside cake sliced

One of my favorites is my mom's Upside-Down Pineapple Cake, which was her mother's original recipe that is close to 70 years old! I will post the original in the fall, but today I wanted something that celebrated spring. With a gorgeous bowl of tart cherries and some sweet fresh peaches smiling at me, I found my inspiration. I added some freshly squeezed orange juice and zest which compliments the fruit and adds another dimension of flavor.

cherries and peach raw

This is an amazingly light, moist cake that is only made more irresistible by a thick, sugary crust that holds the plump cherries and peaches firmly in place. After one mouthful, you'll wish it rained every day.

cherry upside slice back

Fresh Cherry and Peach Upside-Down Cake

Makes 8 servings
Print recipe only here.

1/2 cup butter (8 tablespoons)
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup fresh cherries, pitted and halved
3-4 small, ripe peaches, pitted and halved
1 cup flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Place butter in a 9-inch-round baking pan, and place inside of a warm oven until melted, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the butter. Add the peach halves, cut side down, then add the cherry halves, filling in all of the nooks and crannies.

In a medium bowl, combine sifted flour, baking powder and salt, and stir.

Using a hand mixer, in a metal or glass bowl, beat egg whites at high speed until fluffy. Set aside.

In a separate bowl beat egg yolks with sugar at medium speed until creamy. Add orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla extract, and beat well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, and beat until well combined. Fold in the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Pour cake mixture evenly over the fruit, and smooth with the spatula.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert carefully onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

You might also like these spring-time desserts:

Quick Chocolate-Cinnamon Mousse with Cherries

Mini Custards with Limoncello-Spiked Raspberry Sauce

Strawberry-Rhubarb Sponge Pudding

PS--Witty Nuria just reminded me of that great 1974 song "It Never Rains in Southern California." It's an ideal match for my post, so I'm sending it to Elly for her fun Eat to the Beat event that runs through June. Make sure you watch this Albert Hammond You Tube video--it's worth it just to see his bell-bottoms and Bee-Gee's permed hair. Yikes.

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