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Brown Butter Nectarine Upside-Down Cake

  This cake was an answer to an emergency dessert need, is a variation of one of my favorite recipes, and was the last thing I made in my home kitchen before I up and left.  I didn't mean to post it, but it was so pretty that I had to snap a few pictures.  And it's what floated into my head a few weeks ago when the first real wave of homesickness hit.

  So this is a simple post.  Because I needed to share this cake with you again, because I needed to feel a connection to the kitchen table that is now more than 1,000 miles away.

  Good fruit is key for this cake.  Fresh, ripe, and maybe even on the verge of over-ripe.  Chop it up and throw it in a cake pan.

  Brown butter, because you can't go wrong with a cake encrusted with brown butter.

  The process:

  Greased pan, pictured with the wildflowers of Wisconsin.  These beauties were found on a dead-end road surrounded by cornfield.  I picked them on bike rides, because Wisconsin summers aren't 110 degrees F.

  Good brown sugar melds with the brown butter.

  I used some white nectarines to line the bottom, make it pretty!

  Then, smooth and fluffy cake batter.

  And baked into beauty.  Serve with whipped cream and fresh fruit, if you like.  Or perhaps a dusting of powdered sugar, or just keep it simple and enjoy it as is.

  I miss you, Wisco.  Have a slice on me.

Brown Butter Nectarine Upside-Down Cake
Yield: one 9- or 8-inch cake

Ingredients for the topping:
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2-3 ripe nectarines, pitted and sliced

Ingredients for the cake:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the 2 1/2 tbsp. butter in the cake pan and place in the oven.  Keeping a constant eye out, allow the butter to melt and then sizzle.  This is the water cooking out of the butter.  Cook just until the butter is golden and the solids on the bottom are browned, the butter will have a nutty aroma.  Be sure to open up the oven and swirl around the cooking butter once in awhile.  Immediately remove and, using two pot holders, carefully tilt the pan around over the sink or something, coating the sides of the pan with brown butter.  Once sides are coated, set aside the pan to cool down.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom.  Set aside.  

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the 1/2 cup softened butter and  2/3 cup brown sugar on medium speed.  Cream until slightly pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Stop mixer, scrape down the bowl, and add egg and vanilla extract.  Beat for 1 minute.  Turn the mixer off, scrape down the bowl, and add the dry ingredients.  Beat on low speed while adding the sour cream, until the batter just starts to come together but is not completely combined, it will be thick.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish incorporating the ingredients with a spatula. 

Sprinkle 1/4 cup brown sugar into the brown butter in the cake pan.  Arrange the nectarine slices over the butter and sugar in a single layer.  Spoon batter over the fruit and spread evenly with a spatula.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cake rest for 10 minutes in the pan.  When it's rested, run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and invert the cake onto a cake plate.  Serve warm with fresh fruit and sweetened sour cream or whipped cream.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker