Friday, September 10, 2010

Nectarine Streusel Cake

This is a riff on a cake by Mary Bergin I’ve long admired in Baking with Julia. It's a basic upside down cake but with an extra added pocket of streusel tucked into the cake batter. The cake looks so delectable in the photo and I’ve always wanted to get around to baking it. With some beautiful nectarines conspiring on my table, I decided to seize the moment.

After pondering over the recipe, I wound up making a lighter version that uses considerably less sugar than the 2 3/4 cups called for in the original, fewer eggs, incorporates yogurt, a streusel without nuts and results in a 9” rather than a 10” cake. So although it turns out to be the same sort of idea and method, it became a completely different recipe.

This is a cake that would be nice on a brunch table. The great flavor of fresh fruit shines through as it bakes to a luscious sweetness in the butter and brown sugar topping. The streusel adds a chunky element to the cake as well as the welcome perfume of cinnamon. If you find yourself in need of a seasonal cake for a small crowd, this is a quick and easy fix.

Bench notes:

- I keep the butter and brown sugar for the topping to a minimum to showcase the goodness of the fruit.
- This cake can also be made with fresh plums, peaches, figs, pears or apples. Change up the spices or add nuts to the streusel if you prefer.
- If you don’t have yogurt, you can substitute milk or buttermilk.

Nectarine Streusel Cake
Makes 8 - 10 servings

For the Topping
1 oz (2 T) butter, melted
1/4 C packed dark brown sugar
2 large or 3 small nectarines

For the Streusel
1/3 C flour
1/4 C oats
1/4 C packed dark brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 oz (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces

For the Cake
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 t cinnamon
2 eggs @ room temperature
1/2 C oil
1 C sugar
1/2 C plain yogurt
1 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the topping, pour the melted butter into a 9” springform pan, tilting to distribute evenly across the bottom surface. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the melted butter and press to absorb. Cut the fruit into thin wedges, about 8 – 10 slices per nectarine. Arrange them on top of the butter and brown sugar topping and set aside.

For the streusel, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add the cold butter and work it in with your fingers until the mixture is combined into large crumbles. The streusel should be chunky rather than fine so it adds a crunchy texture to the finished cake. Spread the mixture out on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. Cool completely and set aside.

To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sugar, yogurt and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and blend thoroughly.

Pour about half the cake batter into the springform pan. Spread the batter to the edges using a small offset spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over the cake batter and then scrape the remaining cake batter on top of the streusel. Gently spread the batter to the edges of the pan.

Place the springform pan on a baking sheet and bake for about 35 - 38 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edges of the cake pan and remove the ring. Invert the cake onto a platter and gently remove the bottom of the springform pan. Cool and serve.


jodye @ 'scend food said...

What a beautiful cake! Certainly a great way to show off those nectarines. The crumb on it looks perfect, I can barely help myself from trying to take the cake out of the screen!

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Now I must get the Baking with Julia book. It's a lovely cake.

patissierement-votre said...

This looks very YUMMY :)

LimeCake said...

i love brunch cakes like these, especially since there's no creaming of butter. is there a need to add a pinch of baking soda since there's yogurt in the cake?

Joudie's Mood Food said...


pastry studio said...

Greetings to all bakers and thank you for your comments!

LimeCake, I didn't think this particular cake formulation needed an extra dose of baking soda beyond that already contained in the 1 1/2 t baking powder.

Sherry Trifle, Baking with Julia is a very good cookbook. It features lots of great bakers and all kinds of pastries and breads. It's written by Dorie Greenspan, so the instructions are clear and thorough.

LunaCafe said...

Lovely! I can almost smell this delectable cake from here. Your pictures are mouth watering! ...Susan

Foodievines said...

Yuhhhhummmmmmmmmmmm! Glorious looking and I bet tasting. Actually, I think I can taste it. ;-)

pastry studio said...

Howdy LunaCafe!

FoodieVines, HA! I think you probably can!

To my readers, I've really enjoyed all your blogs and I really appreciate you stopping by.

saturday mike said...

I made this yesterday and it was VERY tasty! It's true that it maybe works better as a brunch cake than a regular dessert cake, but with a cup of coffee, it's just great. I also added a dollop of honey-sweetened yoghurt, but thought whipped cream or even ice cream would've been nice, too.

A couple tips, though:
Keep the streusel in large chunks, as directed. I worked mine too finely and it all melted into a thin layer. It still worked in the cake, but I think had the chunks been bigger, it would've been crunchier.
When assembling the cake, work quickly! By the time I was putting on the top layer of cake batter, and spreading it rather slowly, the caramel began to seep out of the bottom of the pan. I didn't lose too much in the oven, but had I worked a bit faster, I don't think it would've happened.
Finally, I had to cook mine considerably longer - almost 13 minutes longer. I think when you cook with fruit, you can often get a lot of additional liquid, so keep testing and don't take it out too soon!

pastry studio said...

Hello, saturday mike and thanks very much for each of your very helpful tips! It's good to hear about your experience so I can think through each one of your remarks.

Love the idea of honey sweetened yogurt as a garnish!

I didn't have any leakage of the butter/brown sugar layer so I'm trying to figure out how that may have happened for you. Did you press the sugar into the butter to help absorb it? It shouldn't be a liquid but more of a layer of wet brown sugar.

I totally agree with your comment about keeping the streusel chunky and I'll amend the instructions to reflect that.

Ovens vary so much so your tip about watching and testing is very important. Each oven has a mind of its own!

Thanks again for all this wonderful information and feedback. I'm so grateful that you enjoyed the cake.

saturday mike said...

Hey PS!
When I initially added the butter and sugar, it was fine - it all stayed within the rim of the springform pan and indeed all the sugar was wet with butter. But by the time I was ready to put it in the oven, I had a ring of liquid on the counter. I just figured it was the fruit releasing juice and the pressure from the batter pushing it through the cracks?? There wasn't much that leaked, but I just wondered if I'd worked quicker, it may not have leaked.
It was really tasty, though! Thanks!!

pastry studio said...

Ah yes, of course, you must have had delicious and juicy ripe fruit. Once it made contact with the sugar, it probably started to release more juices. That's important to keep in mind. Like you, I took a little bit of time to carefully spread the batter over the nectarines, so this is a good thing to know. Ah, the mysteries and details of baking! There is always something to learn.

Sharon T said...

Hi Pastry Studio! I made this for brunch on Sunday and it was a big hit. I substituted pears for the nectarines and buttermilk instead of yogurt as that is what we have in house. My only problem was my pan was too large making the batter layers quite thin and tricky to spread out. Even with that, it was delicious and disappeared before brunch was over. Thank you:)

pastry studio said...

Hey Sharon T, so pleased for your feedback! It's a great brunch cake and I bet it was really good with fresh pears. Thank goodness it turned out with a different size pan. I think it's very intuitive to want to switch pan sizes if we don't have the right size but it can sometimes make a big difference in baking time and the final outcome.

Here's a chart for your handy reference to help you in the future when you need to substitute a pan:


Sharon T said...

Thank you so much for the link to the pan sizes. I have this problem a lot as the restaurant where I work is quite limited on the equipment side of things. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to convert a recipe for a bundt cake to work in loaf pans and the link was very helpful!

pastry studio said...

You're very welcome, Sharon T! I think this info is really useful and I'm glad you're able to apply it to your work.

Anonymous said...

I just pulled this cake from the oven - DELICIOUS!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

I only made a couple of changes to the recipe: substituting ground ginger for cinnamon - as i thought it would be a good flavour match for nectarines. and i added in a 1/4 cup chopped almonds to the streusel mixture - for even more texture.

I lined my pan with parchment paper and then poured the butter/brown sugar topping over that.

Also, after reading the comments about the topping seepage, I decided to work in a different order: making streusel first, then cake, then topping and assembly. Cake turned out beautifully! thanks again!

pastry studio said...

Howdy, Anonymous! Your substitutions sound delicious. Thanks for taking the time to share your feedback and suggestions. It means a lot to me!