Inversion therapy involves being upside down or at an inverted angle with the intention of therapeutic benefits. The process of doing so is called inverting.
Are you familiar with the Pollyanna Principle? If you ask a glass-half-empty type, it's a naive or deluded form of reality-avoiding optimism. Don't ask those guys! Never ask those guys anything! They always say stuff like that. Your half-full types will tell you that the brain processes, and stores, positive information more readily and durably than negative. We are hard-wired to look on the bright side, says the PP, to ponder lemonade as the dump-truck tips the load of lemons in our yards. It can be hazardous to your health to take this too far-- as in, That wolf is a fuzzy puppy. I am sure he means me no harm!--but it can dull the pain of past trauma, and make you more fun at parties too. (The ship is sinking? Fun! Now it's a swim party!)
Feel like life is topsy-turvy? Don't fight the tide. Bake. (Though if it's a cheer-up emergency, first click here.)
Because they are a stalwart bunch, devoted to your happiness, my family has eaten this cake three times in a week. I started with a very inspirational recipe, and a larder poorly stocked for following it, and a lot of peaches (but no plums), and I think if I make it three or four more times, I can get it exactly right. But I also think I could rightly be accused of being slightly obsessive. It's pretty good already. And I never set out, here in Porpoiseville, to develop perfect recipes; just to report if I made something I liked, because you might like it too. So here is version three, from the land where (for the moment) peaches run like water.
peach upside-down cake
adapted heavily from The Bojon Gourmet
- 4T (half a stick) unsalted butter
- scant 1/2 cup sugar
- 2T honey
- pinch of salt
- pinch of lemon zest
- 2T brandy, cognac or armagnac
- 1t lemon juice
- 4 large peaches, peeled and sliced
- 1.5 sticks (12T) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3.5 oz (half a tube) almond paste
- 3/4 c sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1t vanilla
- 1 c oat flour (see note)
- 1/2 cup sticky rice flour (see note)
- 2T cornstarch
- 1t baking powder
- pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 350, with a rack in the center. Butter a 9" round cake pan.
Topping: In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in the sugar, honey, zest and salt, and cook until it is bubbling. Slowly add the brandy and the lemon juice (adding it quickly could lead to a flaming mess). Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, until the mixture is well-amalgamated and bubbling thickly. Only the heat of this lava-temperature substance will prevent me you from eating it all before the cake is made.
Pour this mixture into the waiting pan, tilting to make an even layer. Allow this to cool a few minutes while you peel and slice the peaches, then arrange the peach slices on top and set aside.
Cake: Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and the almond paste together thoroughly, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the sugar, and keep beating for 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Now add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, and the vanilla.
Stir the dry ingredients together in a small bowl, and add these to the butter mixture. Beat until well combined. Make sure all the flour is incorporated (no need to fret about overbeating because there is no gluten), again scraping the sides as needed. Glomp the batter over the peaches, and lightly spread it out until it is smooth.
Bake for about an hour, until the top is uniformly golden and the sides are beginning to pull away from the pan. If the top is browning too quickly, you can turn the oven down to 325 for the last 20 minutes of baking. Set the pan on a rack to cool for about five minutes, and then loosen the edges with a thin spatula or knife. Fit a plate over the pan,and using oven mitts, ninja skills and careful attention, hold the plate firmly to the pan and turn that frown upside down. Remove the pan. Perform any necessary minor adjustments if some fruit has been displaced. Fawn over yourself. Alert the media to your fabulousness. Allow the cake to cool--the cooler it is, the more it holds together. It's a very moist cake that lasts well (thank you, almond paste) and seemed to be even tastier on day two; just let it warm back up a bit on the counter if you keep it in the fridge. Whipped cream or creme fraiche would make a good dollop over this--I think ice cream would be too sweet.
A note on the flour: oat flour is easily made from rolled oats in a coffee grinder or blender, if you can't find it in the store. Sweet rice flour is not the same as rice flour, but it is the same as glutinous rice flour and sticky rice flour--Mochiko, Bob's Red Mill and Ener-G brands all make it, so it should be widely available in both straight-up and Asian markets. You can sub all-purpose flour for the oat and rice mixture if gluten is not a concern, but the oatiness is a nice combo with the peaches.