Someone once said that they refuse to go outside when it’s raining in New York City because it turns into “garbage soup”. That could not be a more accurate description. Everything just seems to come together into a giant puddle of blech when it rains here. In some other places, rain can be “refreshing” or “fun” or a number of other descriptors, but here, it’s just a huge pain in my ass. My purse already weighs 10 pounds, what with my wallet, a water bottle (because I am a freak about having water on my at all times; this probably stems from living in the desert), a cell phone, and whatever else I feel the need to carry, but tack on a heavy umbrella and I’m already mad. Then there’s the water itself, coming out of the sky like a bat out of hell. It’s either pouring, in which case the umbrella I’m trying to protect myself with is completely useless because it’s some cheap $5 variety that I bought at the pharmacy, or it’s misting, also rendering said umbrella useless because the mist comes from all directions, seemingly, even from underneath, and the umbrella does nothing. It’s impossible to not get completely soaked, and it’s impossible to choose proper footwear that is also appropriate for work. I used to have some galoshes, but of course those got a hole in them in about 30 seconds. I hope it stops raining soon, but of course as soon as I say that, it rains for an entire week…which looks like it will be the case. Sigh. Throw me a bone, Earth.
I wish I had more of this Whisky Peach Upside-Down Cake to ease my suffering. It comes from the newest edition of my favorite bakery, Baked in Brooklyn. The book is called Baked Elements: Our Favorite Ingredients and it is genius. They take 10 of their favorite ingredients (i.e. whisky) and create a number of recipes centered around said ingredient. I love the simplicity of the concept and it just so happens that their favorites happen to be mine too. Others include peanut butter, pumpkin, bananas, and, of course, chocolate. I bought this the day it came out and can’t wait to use more recipes from it. This cake is a great example of the kind of straight-forward, yet absolutely delicious, recipes that wait within. The cake itself is similar to a sponge cake – just slightly sweet and lighter than air (and spiked with a bit of bourbon, in my case), while the whisky caramel is sticky, gooey, and loaded with fresh peaches. I know it’s not quite peach season anymore, but you are more than welcome (nay, encouraged) to make it anyway with frozen peaches. This is America and we do what we want, dammit. I will not dictated by the seasons! And neither should you.
Peel and slice your peaches.
And break out your bourbon or whisky to make your caramel.
Pour the caramel into your cake pan, then place the peaches in a pattern on top.
Whip your egg whites until stiff, then fold them into the cake batter.
Pour the batter over the peaches and bake until set.
Allow to cool, slice, and serve!
- 3 ounces (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons good quality whisky or bourbon
- 1 pound fresh peaches, cut into ½-inch slices (or frozen slices peaches, defrosted on paper towels)
- ¾ cup cake flour
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 ounces (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large egg yolks, plus 2 large egg whites, divided
- 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ¾ cup buttermilk (or regular milk, as I used)
- 2 tablespoons good quality whisky or bourbon
- ½ teaspoon cream or tartar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line and butter your 9-inch cake pan well. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and whisky or bourbon and cook until the sugar has melted and the mixture starts to foam. Remove the mixture from the heat, pour the caramel into the prepared pan, and swirl around to coat it.
- Arrange the sliced peaches in a circular pattern on top of the caramel, but don't overload the pan - you may not need all the peaches. Set the pan aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt, then set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy and smooth, then add in the granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks (set aside the whites), one at a time, then add in the oil, vanilla, and almond extracts until just moistened and combined.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and whisky or bourbon. Add the flour mixture to the bowl alternating with the whisky mixture, starting and ending with the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- In a medium bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk the 2 egg whites vigorously for 1 minute, then sprinkle in the cream of tartar and continue to whisk until the egg whites form soft peaks. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the cake batter, a bit at a time, until fully absorbed.
- Pour the batter over the peaches, spread gently to be sure it is even, and bake for 45-50 minutes, until the cake is cooked through and a toothpick comes out clean. The cake will be quite browned on top - don't worry about it! Transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool for 25-30 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a cake stand or a plate. Let the cake cool completely, slice, and serve. This cake will keep well in an airtight container for up to 2 days.