This month, I threw an outdoor birthday party at the drive-in for my boy, Ol' Blue Eyes. You may remember him from the pasty-making experience last year. We weren't dating then, but now we are. Things change. Hooray! Because we were going to be outside and everything would be subjected to Indiana's unusually humid June weather, I needed to find something weatherproof. I'd been looking forward to some kind of upside down cake, but Listle had already made a pineapple upside down cake. I decided to explore a version of tarte tatin - a Frenchified upside down cake usually made with apples. There are lots of cakes out there that have different fruit substituted for the apples, and so I picked a lovely summer fruit version: peach tatin cake, from a cake book my mom gave me for Christmas. Amazingly, it is called The Cake Book. This seemed pretty perfect for the occasion - easy to make ahead, without filling or frosting that could potentially melt, and full of summer deliciousness.
First, I made a caramel sauce for the bottom of the pan. I'm a little afraid of making caramel sauce because the last time I tried to make it (also for OBE, incidentally), it was a complete disaster. This version worked really well - I ignored some of the directions (waiting for the sugar to dissolve completely - maybe my idea of completely is different than everyone else's, because it was smooth and lovely in the end but I expected it to be grainy. Anyway, after the caramel sauce went into the cake pan, I sliced up the peaches and arranged them, and then chopped up some crystallized ginger and sprinkled that on for kicks.
Next I mixed up the sour cream batter and poured it over the top. After it had baked and cooled, it was ready for the party.
Next, the moment of truth - the flipping!
It went pretty well - one chunk didn't make it, but it was easily added back in. I served the cake with vanilla ice cream, with caramel sauce on the side. Oh wow...it was SO GOOD! The caramel sauce on the cake had an amazing smoky flavor that melted into the cake, and but the peaches brighten up the flavor, so it had a kind of summer-meets-autumn vibe, with a little bit of snap from the ginger.
Happy Birthday, Sweetness!
Peach Cake Tatin
from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle
Caramel Peach Topping:
1 C granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
4 large ripe peaches
3 Tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped
Sour Cream Cake:
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 C sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
9 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 C granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper and grease the paper.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water, and cook over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring; increase the heat to high, and cook, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent crystallization, until the mixture turns into a golden caramel. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately whisk in the butter, one piece at a time (be careful - the mixture will bubble up furiously). Carefully pour the hot caramel into the bottom of the prepared.
3. Cut the peaches in half and discard the pits. Cut each peach half into six wedges. Arrange a circle of wedges, overlapping them slightly, around the edge of the pan, on top of the caramel. Arrange another circle of wedges in the center, facing the opposite direction, covering the caramel completely. Sprinkle ginger on top.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine, and set aside.
5. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and vanilla extract; set aside.
6. In a bowl, using an electric or a hand mixer, beat the butter at medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat at high speed until the mixture is lightened in texture and color, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with the sour cream mixture in two additions and mixing just until blended.
7. Spoon the batter in large dollops over the peaches, then smooth it into an even layer. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.
8. Run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the pan. Using pot holders, very carefully invert the cake onto a cake plate. Peel off the parchment paper. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature.