I am sitting here on the final day of August in Seattle, rain drenching my windowsills and sending the tiny golden tomatoes on my porch into chilly convulsions. Is it summer still? All is confused.
I should be basking in the sun in my front yard, eating ripe peaches and sipping Lillet on ice to cool down. Instead, I have on a sweatshirt, wool socks and am sipping hot tea with lemon and honey for warmth. Summer is so short here in Seattle, we count on every day of sunshine possible from mid-June to September. Having just one sunny day taken from us feels like treachery of the worst sort… a winter storm in August? Unreasonable. I am counting down the days until I leave for Paris, but I know that they, too, are having an unfairly rainy summer.
What to do in times like this? Eat berries and stone fruit, of course. Nothing says summer like raspberries and peaches, especially when topped with freshly whipped cream or homemade vanilla ice cream. I have a wonderful recipe for upside-down pear cake that adapts well to any fruit, and it seemed like a perfect way to use the fresh fruit from my farm share. Summer marches on, and ’tis best to enjoy every little bit that we can.
Peach-Raspberry Upside-Down Cake
From Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
3 medium peaches
1 pint fresh raspberries
3 tbs butter
3/4 light brown sugar
1/2 lb unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup blanched almonds (any nut will work here, just omit the extract) finely ground
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the 3 tbs butter with the brown sugar in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until the sugar is melted and smooth, then remove the pan from the heat. Peel the peaches and cut them into slices about 1-inch thick. Overlap the slices in the sugared pan, going around the outside and fan into the center. Nestle raspberries between slices and/or sprinkle them over the peaches.
For the cake: Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, then add the vanilla and extract (if using). Beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth. Stir in the nuts, followed by the remaining dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the fruit and smooth it out with an offset spatula.
Bake in the center of the oven until the cake is golden and springy when pressed with a fingertip, 35-40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then set a cake plate on top of the pan, grasp both the plate and the pan tightly, and turn it over. Carefully ease the pan off the cake. If any fruits have stuck to the pan, simply pry them off and return them to the cake.
Serve with freshly whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.