Al­mond up­side-down cake makes the most of sum­mer’s stone fruit

The Hamilton Spectator - - FOOD - SARA MOUL­TON

This recipe for Stone Fruit Al­mond Up­side­Down Cake works equally well us­ing any kind of stone fruit or a mix of ev­ery kind of stone fruit, in­clud­ing plums, apri­cots, nec­tarines, peaches and plum­cots.

The ap­peal of the mixed-fruit ver­sion — the rain­bow­like beauty of the un­moulded cake in con­cert with the rich chord of its flavours — edges out the monochrome vi­su­als and taste of a cake made with just one kind of fruit.

I have spec­i­fied us­ing firm ripe fruit for this recipe. If the fruit is very ripe, it’ll be too ripe — mushy and dif­fi­cult to slice. How­ever, very firm un­ripened fruit will work well, too. Bak­ing those guys si­mul­ta­ne­ously ten­der­izes them and amps up their flavour.

The only hur­dle when cook­ing with stone fruit is de-ston­ing it. The best way to do the job is to slice around the nat­u­ral seam, prefer­ably with a ser­rated knife. Then you twist the two halves apart to ex­pose the pit, much as you would with an av­o­cado. Lastly you pluck out the pit with your fin­gers, if it’s loose enough, or scoop it out with the aid of a melon baller. Now it’s easy to rest the two halves flat on the counter and slice them into wedges.

The heart of this recipe’s al­lure hinges on the con­trast be­tween the fruit’s tart­ness and the cake’s sweet­ness. That sweet­ness re­sides in the al­mond paste, so be sure not to use marzi­pan, which is much more su­gary and would make the cake cloy­ingly sweet.

This cake is a cinch to throw to­gether us­ing a mixer, but the in­gre­di­ents should all be at room tem­per­a­ture to de­velop the proper tex­ture. If you’re able to pre­pare and serve this cake while it’s still hot, your guests will re­ally be wowed, but it’s plenty tasty at room tem­per­a­ture, too. Ei­ther way, don’t for­get to top it off with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Start to fin­ish: 1 hour 25 min­utes (45 ac­tive) Pre­heat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl com­bine 2 ta­ble­spoons of the but­ter, the brown sugar and 1 tea­spoon of the vanilla ex­tract. Lightly grease the sides of an 8-inch square cake pan; spread the brown sugar mix­ture evenly over the bot­tom of the pan. Ar­range the fruit wedges in one layer, dec­o­ra­tively on top of the brown sugar mix­ture.

In a food pro­ces­sor com­bine the al­mond paste and the sugar; process the mix­ture un­til it is finely ground. Trans­fer it to a large bowl, add the but­ter and beat with an elec­tric mixer un­til the mix­ture is light and fluffy, about two min­utes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mak­ing sure each one is in­cor­po­rated be­fore adding the next one and scrap­ing down the sides of the bowl with a rub­ber spat­ula be­tween each ad­di­tion.

In a small bowl whisk to­gether the flour, bak­ing pow­der and salt. Add to the al­mond mix­ture and stir with a rub­ber spat­ula un­til just com­bined. Spoon the bat­ter over the fruit slices, spread­ing it evenly. Bake the cake on the mid­dle shelf of the oven un­til a skewer, when in­serted, comes out clean, about 40 min­utes.

Let cool for five min­utes on a rack. In a small saucepan com­bine the apri­cot jam and 1 ta­ble­spoon wa­ter; cook over medium-low heat un­til the jam is melted and smooth. Add ad­di­tional wa­ter if nec­es­sary to make the jam loose enough to brush on the fruit. Run a knife around the edge of the cake and in­vert it onto a serv­ing plat­ter. Brush the fruit with the jam and serve the cake with the whipped cream or ice cream.

Per serv­ing: 248 calo­ries (128 from fat); 14 grams fat (8 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 31 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 130 mg sodium; 29 g car­bo­hy­drates; 1 g fi­bre; 26 g sugar; 2 g pro­tein.

SARA MOUL­TON, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The only hur­dle when cook­ing with stone fruit is de-ston­ing it. The best way to do the job is to slice around the nat­u­ral seam, prefer­ably with a ser­rated knife.

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