Whiskey, Hazelnut & Peach Upside-Down Cake
Suddenly, it’s late August. The Dog Days. Try as we might, it’s hard to hold onto these last few breaths of Summer, isn’t it? The signals are all around us- the corn’s drying up, the berries have gone to mush, and if you look to the edges of the sidewalk you might just see a few yellowed crunchy leaves, arriving embarrassingly early to the party. For those of us who live for Summer, it’s a sort of in-between time of grieving and desperation.
Whether you’re Team-Summer or Team-Autumn, I have just the cake to get you across this seasonal threshold. With its unexpected combination of juicy late-summer peaches with the warmth of whiskey and hazelnut, this peach upside-down cake is the perfect way to usher in a lovely Autumn season.
This whiskey, hazelnut and peach upside-down cake is an easy one to throw together. From the top (er, the bottom?) the cake begins with a quick butter and brown sugar stove-top caramel which is laced with a splash (okay, two) of whiskey, poured into the cake pan, and then topped with thinly sliced peaches. Roasted hazelnuts are blitzed briefly in the blender to form a coarse meal and then folded into a classic buttery cake batter, which gives this tender cake a lovely little crunch as well.
While the whole thing bakes the peaches caramelize and the whiskey caramel sauce bubbles up the sides of the cake, forming beautiful sticky pockets on the edges. The hazelnuts toast up further, and will fill your entire house with an aroma so heavenly as to gently coax any sleeping cohabitants willingly out of a late Sunday morning slumber. And they will expect to eat this for breakfast, by the way.
Be sure to let the cake rest for 15 minutes after you pull it out of the oven to let the cake settle a bit and adhere to the peach layer before unmolding. This cake is so effortlessly beautiful and incredibly, eye-rolling-ly, delicious that you might just find yourself telling Autumn to bring it on.
- 3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, divided
- 1/3 c. brown sugar
- 2 T. whiskey (bourbon or rye recommended)
- 2 medium peaches, thinly sliced
- 1 c. dry roasted (unsalted) hazelnuts, skins removed
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 c. flour
- 2 t. baking powder
- 1/4 c. milk
- Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat a metal 9" round cake pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Melt 4 T. butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir until the mixture is bubbly. Remove from the burner and stir in the whiskey. The sauce will sizzle and bubble. Set the pan aside.
- Use your blender or food processor's pulse mode to chop the hazelnuts into an even meal, pausing to scrape the sides as needed. Do not blend too long or you'll have hazelnut butter!
- Beat together the remaining 1/2 c. of butter with the sugar using an electric hand or stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, allowing to cream together thoroughly. Reduce your mixer's speed to low and add half of the flour, allowing to incorporate fully. Add milk, allowing to incorporate fully. Add rest of flour and the baking powder. Add hazelnut meal and mix thoroughly.
- Pour whiskey caramel sauce into cake pan, tipping the pan as needed to evenly coat. Lay your peach slices evenly on top in any design you'd like (I did mine in a spiral from the center).
- Using a rubber spatula, plop the cake batter evenly on top of the peaches and distribute, pressing gently so as to not disturb the peaches.
- Bake 35-45 minutes, or until cake tester comes out of center of cake clean.
- Cool for 15 minutes before unmolding onto a cake plate or stand.
- Once the cake is fully cooked, the whiskey becomes a subtle flavor note- this cake is family friendly when made as directed above. For a sassy adult version: After removing the cake from the oven, use a fork or chopstick to poke several holes into the cake. Slowly drizzle an additional 1/4 c. of whiskey over the surface of the cake. Allow to rest 15 minutes before unmolding.