The temperature dropped just slightly in the Boston area, so I turned on my oven. Time to measure, sift and whisk. Time for some flour on the counter, maybe some in my hair; softened butter, room temperature eggs and sugar, lots of it. Time to mix it up until just combined. Time to bake. My hiatus from baking left me wandering and unsatisfied. I made ice cream, fruit crisps, cold Israeli cous cous salads and Alice Water’s potato salad. I utilize the veggies from weekly CSA as if the end of days were near. And yet, something was missing: my oven.
When I came across these beauties at the market, I knew they required more than just a crisp or cobbler. They deserved to be nestled in a butter and sugar batter. Showered with raw sugar; baked until they turned into delicate crumbed butter and sugar cakes, all just the size of a 6 ounce ramekins, a sweet and personal treat.
Baking with Julia provided the inspiration and I ran with it. I swapped out the plums for nectarines, orange zest for lime zest and added a healthy sprinkling of raw sugar. Twenty-five minutes later these sweet little nectarine cakes were ready for us to eat.
We ate them without the addition of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream; they were delicious. The nectarine caramelized just slightly. The cake was delicate and light with an unexpected, slight tartness from the lime. When I make them again, I’ll add a dollop of unsweetened whip cream and maybe a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream. A creamy, cold liquid is a great way to ensure every last crumb is scooped up.
Oven-Roasted Nectarine Cakes
Recipe adapted from Baking with Julia’s Oven Roasted Plum Cakes
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons, packed, light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk
6 large nectarines, halved and pitted
1/4 cup raw sugar for sprinkling
Cooking spray or melted butter for coating ramekins
Special Equipment: 8 ramekins
Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly coat the inside of the ramekins with cooking spray or melted butter. Place them on a baking sheet and set aside.
Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for a few more minutes. Add one egg and beat on high until the egg is incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and add the second egg. Beat until incorporated, about 30 more seconds. Add lime zest and vanilla extract and continue to beat on high for another minute.
Lower the speed of your mixer and add the flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and mix for less than a minute. Stop the mixer and finish combining the ingredients with a spatula. Do not over mix!
Drop about 2 tablespoons of cake batter into each ramekin. Place half of a nectarine, cut side up, into each ramekin. Push down just a little. You don’t want the cake to rise over the nectarine, although some of mine did. Sprinkle a bit of raw sugar on each nectarine. Place ramekins on baking sheet and put on the center rack of your oven. Bake from about 25 minutes, but start checking them at 20 minutes. When the cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean, they are ready. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the ramekins for 10 minutes.
Once cool, run a butter knife around the edge of the cake. Lift the cakes out with a small spatula or butter knife. You want to keep them right side up. If this seems too hard, turn the ramekins upside down, lightly tap out the cakes and then place the cakes right side up. Serve the cakes warm or at room temperature. A little vanilla ice cream or whipped cream is a great addition to these cakes, but not necessary. Enjoy!
**Cakes can be kept for up to a day stored at room temperature in an air-tight container.**
Don’t let summer pass without checking out these 5 fantastic nectarine recipes!
Looking for fresh twist on a tart or buckle recipe? Head to Smitten Kitchen for Deb’s nectarine brown butter buckle or nectarine, mascarpone gingersnap tart. Yum!
Martha’s nectarine cupcakes are on my must make list.
If it’s just too hot to turn on the oven, how about making nectarine ice cream?
If you want an interesting twist on your next caprese salad, head to Shutterbean for Tracy’s nectarine caprese salad. This looks like summer!