Making a nectarine upside-down cake is certainly a test in optimism. Everything goes in the oven with the nectarines tucked underneath the batter. Until you remove the cake from the oven, and let it cool, you don’t know for sure what the bottom is going to look like.
Needless to say, when I flipped over my cake and discovered this beauty, I was pretty damn pleased. My plan is for this cake to be the piece de resistance at my next vegan dinner party. It’s beautiful and delicious. The caramelized nectarine layer enhances the sweetness of this slightly tart summer stone fruit. The moist, slightly dense texture of the cake and the gentle use of spices makes for a perfect summer treat.
This nectarine upside-down cake is sweetened only with coconut sugar. It’s also made with 100% spelt flour. That means that you can have a couple of slices and not need to take a nap afterward =P. Coconut sugar looks similar to brown sugar when dry but when liquid and fat collide with it, it turns dark brown, which is how the caramelized nectarines get such a vibrant color.
In terms of ease of making this recipe: If you grease the pan thoroughly then there’s nothing to be afraid of. At least not any more than with making a regular cake. We still have to be careful not to over-mix the batter, so that the gluten doesn’t form. Luckily, since spelt is much lower in protein, this is less of a risky maneuver than it is with all-purpose flour. Honestly, I’m not a natural at baking things other than bread. And I found this nectarine upside-down cake to be super, super easy to make!
tl;dr upside-down cakes are the coolest thing ever, and this version is particularly awesome. Hope you enjoy!
Vegan Nectarine Upside-Down Cake
For the caramelized nectarine layer:
- 4 tsp melted coconut oil
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 3 nectarines sliced
For the spelt cake:
- 1 cup almond milk (or nondairy milk of choice), room temperature or warm
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups spelt flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander seed
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger (a pinch)
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (a pinch)
To prepare the caramelized nectarine layer:
- Add the melted coconut oil to the bottom of a cake pan. Use a brush or your hands to lightly grease the sides, then spread the rest of the oil evenly in one layer.
- Sprinkle the coconut sugar in an even layer on top of the coconut oil. Arrange the nectarine slices on top of the coconut sugar so that they have as much surface contact with it as possible.
To prepare the spelt cake:
In a small bowl, stir together the almond milk and lemon juice, and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add the coconut oil, coconut sugar, and vanilla extract to the bowl with the almond milk. Use a fork or whisk to whisk together the liquid mixture until the sugar is dissolved and the oil is incorporated with the almond milk.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the spelt flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.
- Make a well in the center and add half of the wet mixture. Stir, then add the rest of the wet mixture. Gently mix the batter together (I used a wooden mixing fork) until the lumps are gone, but try to mix as little as possible. We don't want to encourage the gluten to develop, because that will result in a gummy cake.
- Pour the mixed batter on top of the nectarines, gently, so as not to agitate them.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes on a rack positioned in the center of the oven (important!), or until golden on the top and starting to pull away from the sides. The top of the cake will feel a bit springy, but still moist.
- Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes before gently inverting it. You can then transfer it to a cooling rack, and cut yourself a slice!
- Leftovers can be kept at room temperature if tightly wrapped (unless your home is very warm), or covered in the refrigerator. Best enjoyed within a day or two.
For best results, use nectarines that are just barely ripe, so that they retain more texture during baking.
Sponge cakes have a habit of cracking on the top (luckily, we are flipping it over!). The taste and inside texture are not likely to be affected. Sometimes you just can't control the cake cracking, but the following steps will make it less likely: 1) measure flour by spooning it into a measuring cup, instead of scooping it out of the container. 2) mix as little as possible to discourage gluten formation. 3) test the temperature of your oven to ensure that 350 is really 350 (hotter, and the cake is more likely to crack).
Nutrition facts are calculated based on cutting the cake into 8 slices.
Adapted from Peach Upside Down Cake by the Earthen Table. Happy Friday!