This is the perfect, easy summer cake topped with nectarines and blueberries. Make this nectarine cake for your family, a BBQ or just for yourself. You won't be sorry.
Do you like surprises?
People usually have a position on this, and I admit I fall in the 'don't like' side of the surprise issue. There's no horrible experience to blame, and I don't think of myself as controlling (my husband will disagree here - so maybe I should say unusually controlling), but there you have it. I'm not keen on surprises.
For example, I like knowing what I'm getting for Christmas. One little surprise here and there is ok. I like to have my hotels arranged for vacations before I get on the plane. Especially if I'm traveling outside the US, at the height of the travel season, and am unfamiliar with the area, language, and alphabet. (Am I right??) And I always research a movie before I'm held captive in a darkened theater for the 3-hour tear-jerker of the decade, or Chainsaw Massacre 2.
But a web-based, blogger surprise birthday party is something I can totally jump on board for. It's Isabels' birthday today and a whole bunch of us are throwing this surprise party for her. As far as we can tell, she has NO IDEA what we've been cooking up, literally.
I baked my favorite cake for you, Isabel - Nectarine Cake, with a few blueberries thrown in for fun. This is long-time family favorite, and I make it a couple of times every summer. I hope it becomes a family favorite for you too.
What's the Difference Between Nectarines and Peaches?
Peaches and nectarines are almost identical genetically, except for one key difference that we can all see. Peaches have a fuzzy skin, and nectarines have a smooth one. That said, many people feel that nectarines are more delicious, juicy and sweeter.
I think this depends on where you live. When my parents lived in South Carolina, my mother and I used to go to farms where we could pick out own. Those were hands down the best I've ever had. Here in the west, however, I prefer nectarines. Peaches seem to have more of a tendency to be mealy.
Tips For Making Nectarine Cake
Weigh the flour. This nectarine cake is very tender thanks to the buttermilk, and moist from the juices of the nectarines. If you add too much flour, the cake will be denser and not nearly as appealing.
The butter should be room temperature for the best creaming with the sugar. That doesn't mean it's warm - it should be cool to the touch. Slice the butter into individual pats and add to the mixing bowl.
If you don't have a standing mixer, you can definitely making this with a hand mixer.
Turbinado sugar is raw sugar that's partially refined. It adds a little crunch to the top of the cake, and contributes a little molasses flavor as a bonus.
Serve this nectarine cake warm or at room temperature. If you want, sift a little confectioners sugar on top before serving. And don't forget scoops of vanilla bean ice cream or gelato.
If the peaches are better in your area, feel free to use them in place of the nectarines in this recipe.
You can peel the nectarines (or peaches) if you want to take the time to do it, but this is a rustic dessert and I think it's best with the fruit unpeeled.
Purchase freestone nectarines if you can. This means the fruit comes off the pit very easily. Semi-freestone means some of the fruit will stick to the pit.
Don't use nectarines that are too soft, as they'll collapse into more of a sauce while the cake is baking. I have my best success with nectarines that are firm to the touch, yet press gently in at the area around the stem.
Pile the nectarines onto the batter along with any juices. It's fine if they lay a little on top of each other. As the cake rises and expands, they'll fill in the spaces. More is better in this case.
If you're not a fan of nutmeg, play with spices that work for you. You can increase the allspice or add cardamom.
Allow the cake to rest for at least 10 minutes before releasing it from the baking pan.
Recommended Equipment for Making a Nectarine Cake
Baking This Nectarine Cake at High Altitude
Baking at high altitude is not the same as baking at sea level. Because of the dryness in the mountains, we need to add a little more liquid to recipes. And to allow for the difference in air pressure, yeast and chemical leaveners need to be adjusted down.
That said, this is a very forgiving cake for moisture, thanks to the juices from the nectarines. Additionally the weight of the fruit on the batter keeps the cake from blowing up too much from the leaveners. This recipe is a modified version of this one on Food52, but I made no changes in either the liquid or leaveners.
Farmhouse Nectarine Cake with Blueberries
- 4 medium just ripe nectarines, or peaches unpeeled
- ⅓ cup fresh blueberries
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup buttermilk
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6.7 ounces (1 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar, also called raw sugar (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F and butter the bottom and sides of 9-inch springform pan. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom, press it on the bottom, and butter it as well. Cut a long length of parchment paper and press it around the sides of the pan. This is a moist cake because of all the fruit, and it can be difficult to release from the pan. The parchment paper prevents this problem.
- Cut the nectarines into bite sized pieces. Toss with nutmeg, allspice and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Using a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and remaining sugar until fluffy, about 5 - 6 minutes. Mix in the egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract.
- In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk it several times to evenly disperse the chemical leaveners throughout the flour. Pro-Tip: Weigh the flour for the best, most consistent result. I find that even carefully measured flour is more flour than weighed. Adding too much flour results in a denser cake.
- Shift the speed of the mixer to low and add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix only until the flour is mostly incorporated, and finish with a rubber spatula. Over-mixing flour into a batter causes a tougher cake. The batter will be very thick and somewhat lumpy.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan using a rubber spatula. Use the spatula to evenly spread it across the bottom of the pan. Spill the nectarines and blueberries onto the top of the batter, including any juices, and gently press in. Don't worry if the fruit is on top of each other in places. As the cake bakes, the batter will rise up and around it, and the nectarine chunks will settle across the surface and into the cake. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top, if using.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven to 325˚F. Bake for an additional 55 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. The center will be the last part to cook, so only check around that area.
- Place the pan on a cooling rack, and cool for 15 minutes before removing the side of the springform pan. Gently peel off the parchment paper from the sides. This is a tender cake, so you might not be able to peel off the bottom parchment paper. Just slide the cake from the base of the springform pan.
- Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.