Georgia has nothing on New Mexico peaches. Even as we near the end of the season, local growers are still offering large and succulent globes of juicy, dripping perfection. I buy them by the basket at the Downtown Market (Central and Eight Street) and at Wagner Farms (5000 Corrales Road, Corrales).
If I can gather up enough steam for the job, I’ll put up a batch of spiced peaches—peeled peaches halves in light syrup and cider vinegar, sharing a pint jar with a cinnamon stick. Whatever peaches are left after my daily snacks will go into quick desserts such as cobbler or—my favorite—peach upside-down cake.
This recipe is very forgiving and can be customized with spices such as a half teaspoon cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg. Five-spice powder or curry would be interesting. It also dresses up well with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream, or a handful of slivered almonds.
Peach Upside-Down Cake
Makes one 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening or oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, for greasing
3/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
2 to 3 pitted peaches, sliced into 12 to 14 wedges each (can be peeled or unpeeled)
1) Arrange a rack in the top half of the oven. Preheat the oven to 365 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Mix thoroughly, but do not overbeat. It should look like slightly lumpy pancake batter. Set aside.2) Put a few small dabs of butter in the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan or an 8-inch square pan and line the bottom with waxed or parchment paper. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan generously.3) Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with brown sugar. Place the peaches in a single layer over the brown sugar, then dollop the cake batter over the peaches and spread to fill the pan.4) Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. If the cake springs back when lightly touched, it’s done. A knife inserted into the middle of the cake should come out clean.5) Run a knife along the sides of the pan and turn the cake onto a plate. Gently remove the paper. If you wait too long, the sugar will set and make it difficult to free the cake from the liner.