I love to use fresh fruit in cobblers and crisps during the summer because they’re so easy to make and are also a great way to showcase in-season fruit. There are other desserts that showcase fresh fruit just as well, though, and this cake is one of them. This Summer Nectarine Cake is packed with ripe summer nectarines and delivers at least as much fruit flavor as any cobbler would. The cake is super moist, with a light flavor of butter, vanilla and almond that does a perfect job of spotlighting juicy, floral and sweet nectarines.
When you make this cake, you’ll notice that the cake batter is very thick. Do not be alarmed by this – and do not add more liquid to your recipe to try to thin it out! The batter is thick because it needs to be thick to support all of that fresh fruit. The pieces of nectarine are pressed gently into the top of the cake batter, once it is spread in the pan, and that thick batter rises up and around the fruit. Believe it or not, that fruit will remain suspended in the batter and won’t sink to the bottom, and the cake will absorb all of the juice from the nectarines as it bakes.
Use ripe nectarines that are still a little bit firm, as they will be the easiest to cut and handle when preparing the recipe. I cut my nectarines in half and give them a little twist to separate the halves, then remove the pits. I use quartered nectarines in this recipe, for nice big pieces of fruit. If your nectarines are on the small side, you can probably squeeze in five for this cake. I also don’t peel the fruit for this cake, as the peels aren’t very noticeable in the finished cake and it gives a nice pop of color to the fruit, as well as a pleasantly rustic look to the finished product.
Summer Nectarine Cake
4 ripe nectarines
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp coarse sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8 or 9-inch round cake pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease. Make sure there is overhang over the sides of the pan (or use a springform pan).
Halve the nectarines and remove the pits, then cut each half in two. You do not need to peel the nectarines.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and almond extract, mixing until smooth. Blend in about 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk. Stir in half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the rest of the buttermilk, then add the last of the flour mixture. Stir only until everything is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Batter will be thick.
Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan. Arrange 14 nectarine quarters in a circle around the outside of the pan, pressing them gently into the batter just so they stick in place, but not pushing them all the way to the bottom of the pan. Arrange remaining two quarters in the center of the pan to form a small circle.
Bake for 45-50 minutes for a 9-inch pan (50-55 min for an 8-inch pan), or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Cool completely in the pan, then lift the cake out (using the aluminum foil) to transfer it to a plate before slicing and serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container.