Nectarine Upside-Down Cake

July 29, 2012

Nectarine Upside Down Cake

I love to eat nectarines in the summer, all ripe, sweet and juicy, but there's just something so delightful about the perfume of a freshly baked nectarine cake that makes me give into the craving every time. If you've read my Apple Upside-Down Cake post you know how much I like Susan Voisin's recipe (Susan is the author of FatFree Vegan Kitchen). I've made several fruit versions of her cake and while each one has something special the nectarine one remains at the top of my list. There are different types of nectarines and my favourite are those with gold and crimson skin and bright yellow flesh. I don't even peel them when making the cake and that creates an appetizing colour contrast while giving it a more rustic appearance.

Nectarine Upside Down Cake

There is always that moment of wonder when I stop and admire the glorious sunset colours captured by the beautiful fruit display right before covering it with batter. I don't know about you, but I only have enough patience to let the cake cool to room temperature before diving in. That's when it is the lightest and the flavours are at their best. The sweet, juicy, slightly caramelized fruit layer and the simple, lemon-scented cake underneath create a perfect harmony of tastes and textures.

As the fruit cooks under the batter blanket and releases its juices, part of the moisture gets trapped inside the cake layer rendering it light and moist. When inverted, the juice seeps into the cake, infusing it with a delicate caramel flavour. For this cake I like to use ripe yet somewhat firm nectarines, that way even after softening and releasing their juices they still remain plump, unlike overripe nectrines which turn mushy when baked. The juice also helps the cake to ease out of the pan without having fruit sticking to it.

This is a wonderful, refreshing and uncomplicated summer dessert that I am sure you will enjoy. It is virtually fat-free, if you don't consider the tiny amount of oil used to grease the pan.

Nectarine Upside-Down Cake (courtesy of Susan Voisin; slightly adapted from Susan's Peach Upside-Down Cake)

Dry Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups organic plain white flour (1 cup = 250 ml)
  • 1/2 cup unrefined golden caster sugar (or use demerara)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • zest of one medium lemon

Whisk the first four ingredients well in a bowl, add the lemon zest and stir it in. Set aside. Sometimes I add the zest to the wet ingredients, other times I like the flour to get infused with the citrus aroma before making the batter.

Wet Ingredients
  • 1 cup soy milk (or coconut milk)
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pour the soy milk in a bowl, add the lemon juice, give it a stir and set aside. It will curdle a bit.

Prepare a 22 cm (8.7") cake pan by lightly coating it with oil (you can also make the cake in an iron skillet, see Susan's instructions for that). This will also prevent the fruit from sticking to the pan when inverting the cake.

Wash and pat dry 3 large nectarines that are ripe but still a little firm to the touch. Cut them in half around the pit and twist the halves in opposite directions until one of them comes off. Remove the pit from the other half and cut each half in 4. Place the nectarine slices in a bowl, sprinkle them with 1 Tb caster sugar and give them a toss. Set aside. You could also use 4 small nectarines to create an even more beautiful arrangement, as below.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Simple Caramel
  • 1/3 cup unrefined golden caster sugar
  • 2 Tb water

You can make the caramel directly in the pan if it is high heat-resistant (such as an iron skillet) or use a small stainless steel or enamel saucepan and pour the caramel into the cake pan when done. Add the sugar and water to your saucepan and place on the smallest burner of your stovetop turned to medium. After the sugar is completely melted keep an eye on the liquid as it will soon start to change colour (you may need to reduce the heat to low). This is a small amount so I never stir it, just move the pan around so the caramel gets a uniform colour. When it reaches a nice amber colour pour it into the prepared pan. Arrange the fruit on top in the desired pattern.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until well combined. Spoon the batter over the fruit slices, covering the spaces between them first.

Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes, by which time the cake should be properly done with a few tiny brown spots on top and caramel juice bubbling around the sides.

Nectarine Upside Down Cake

Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes (it will pull away from the sides), then place a large serving plate on top and carefully invert the cake onto the plate. Sometimes the caramel thickens in some parts and keeps the cake stuck to the pan, so for extra safety run a knife around the sides before inverting it.

Nectarine Upside Down Cake

Having large, thick nectarine slices in this cake was great, there was more caramelized juice dripping over the sides than usual which I collected with a teaspoon and poured over the cake as it cooled to give it a glossy finish.

Nectarine Upside Down Cake

Allow the cake to come to room temperature, slice and serve.

Nectarine Upside Down Cake

Many such recipes recommend serving the cake with a scoop of ice cream. I haven't tried the combination yet, but I'd love to see how it tastes with vanilla coconut ice cream.

Nectarine Upside Down Cake

If you're not fond of using unpeeled nectarines in this cake, you can always blanch them. I find that time-consuming. If I must have peeled nectarines (or peaches) in a cake or tart I choose some that are quite firm and run the blunt side of a knife's blade over the fruit from top to bottom, going around the fruit and applying a little force to loosen the skin. It then comes off easily. This method doesn't work well with very ripe and soft fruit.

Nectarine Upside Down Cake

Enjoy and spread the magic!:)

Like this recipe? Share it with your friends and come back for more!


Ally @ Om Nom Ally

That is quite possibly the most delicious cake I've ever seen. I adore nectarines and would find it very hard to stop at one slice - amazing!

Vegan Magic

Hey Ally, thanks so much for the comment:) I know exactly what you mean, whenever I make this cake the first 2 slices are mine, and that's just to "check" if it came out ok;) It never makes it till next day and almost never into the fridge. Thanks for stopping by, I'm heading over to your blog, that gorgeous mango lassi has caught my eye.


I love this recipe!
My boyfriend made this for us!
Everyone should try this, too!
It was DIVINE!
Vegan Magic, for sure!

Vegan Magic

Many thanks for the feedback, Ocean! I'm happy that you enjoyed the cake. It really is an amazing recipe, I make it very often in the summer. You should try other kinds of fruit too. Thanks so much for stopping by:)


This is the best cake in the world!
I tried this with nectarines and then with bananas, apples (a little cooking of them before I used them), peach and today I am trying mango!
ALL of them have turned out incredible and sadly no cake has been left at the end of the day (useful as I have no container big enough for it!)
Thank you!!
Nom Nom

Vegan Magic

Tam, that's fantastic! I am thrilled to see that I'm not the only one who's tried different versions of Susan's famous cake...and funny enough, I've made the exact same versions you have, they're all going to be posted on the blog. I also tried a plum version, the taste and texture contrast were absolutely amazing! Oh, and a pear one, that was incredibly refreshing. For the banana cake, I used Martha Stewart's method from Banana Tarte Tatin, that really takes this simple fruit to a whole new level of awesomeness:) Thank you so much for the feedback, your comment has made my day;)


Thank u its jus wonderful

Vegan Magic

Disha, I'm very happy you like it and hope you'll give it a try:) Thank you for stopping by.


I tried banana upside down when it was baking i smelled bananas and it was vvv delicious and vv lite
Actually i got over excited i added 1 cup all purpose flour and Total 1/2 cup of wheat brain and semolina oh gosh that was a mistake i guess the batter got too thick and was not as loquidy as yours as it is in the picture and i wanted to avoid sugar soo added 8 dates puree in it so end result was that the cake dinn had grains like texture it was like pudding
Next time will use fine semolina if im adding but over all enjoyed the cake it was still delicious

Vegan Magic

Disha, thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds like you know now what works and what doesn't:) Well, semolina does absorb a lot of liquid. Also, when using very juicy fruit, like nectarines, the moisture gets trapped inside the cake, giving it a light texture. Bananas are not juicy, so the batter needs to be thinner. I have made the banana version a couple of times and it was super delicious. I hope your next experiment turns out perfect:) Thank you so much for writing.


I made this today with some slightly dodgy-looking (but really sweet) nectarines from the markets and we loved it. I actually left out the caramel bit because I am lazy, it was still delicious and impressive to look at :)

Vegan Magic

That's great news! Thank you so much for giving it a try and for sharing your experience. I'm happy it turned out great even without caramel:)


I LOVE NECTARINES and have always made the family generational nectarine pie that everyone raves is the best "peach" pie they have ever had! LOL HOWEVER, your nectarine cake is A M A Z I N G and so-o-o-o-o much easier/quicker!!!!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts/stomachs! :)

Do you have any suggestions for making it gluten free? We are in a Bible Study group that 2 people are gluten free. So, I always try to accommodate everyone and make something delish that all will enjoy. Appreciate any feed back!

Vegan Magic

Hi, wooooww that's fantastic! So happy you loved this cake so much. I did make gluten-free versions, but I haven't got the perfect recipe yet. I used corn flower, rice flower, sorghum flour... Got to find the right balance to keep it from crumbling too much. The taste was awesome though:)

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