surprising myself – nectarine-blueberry cake w caramel icing

by hungryrabbit on September 3, 2012

Nectarine-Blueberry Cake with Caramel Frosting

A few weeks ago, I blogged about not needing a birthday cake when I had a Plum Pistachio Frangipane Tart ready to go. Well, here is an addendum to the story, and once again, it’s M’s fault for this detour.

As I bid M farewell and he took off for his business trip just before my birthday, I started to think about our upcoming weekend. M would get home Friday night from his 4 day seminar. No doubt he would have had no time or opportunity to eat anything other than hotel conference food. I thought how wonderful it would be if I would make a coffee cake for the weekend–something that would go great with our afternoon tea/coffee or even as part of an indulgent weekend breakfast.

I intended to pick up some peaches from the Farmer’s Market for the coffee cake, but upon arrival, the nectarines were calling to me. So naturally I obliged–and I also added gorgeous blueberries to the purchase. As I prepared the batter to go into the oven, I wondered why I was just making a coffee cake and not a birthday cake for myself. Ah, inspiration comes out of necessity.

I changed direction and added a filling of sautéd nectarines with butter and rum. I didn’t guild the lily, but I did ice the cake with caramel frosting. It was a surprise contrast and pairing to the freshness of the fruit. What started off as a simple coffee cake ended with a festive mosaic of nectarines and blueberries ready for a celebration.

Minus the blowing out of candles, I shared the cake with my friends who took me out to dinner for my birthday–and, I did manage to save a few slices to enjoy with M over the weekend.

Nectarine-Blueberry Cake w Caramel Frosting

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
yield: one 6-inch cake

Ingredients

Streusel
1/4 cup (1-1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (2 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons (1 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, softened but still cool

Cake
1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar (about 4-3/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1-1/4 stick/5 ounces), softened but still cool
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups nectarines (about 4 medium), diced
1 cups fresh blueberries (about 5 ounces), picked over
Nectarine Filling, recipe to follow
Caramel Frosting, recipe to follow

Directions

1. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt, beat on low speed until well combined and no large brown sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Add butter and continue to beat until mixture resembles wet sand and no large butter pieces remain, about 2 minutes. Transfer streusel to small bowl and set aside.

2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 6-inch round cake pan with 2-inch sides with nonstick cooking spray, line bottom with parchment round, and spray round; dust pan with flour and knock out excess.

3. Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl to combine; set aside. Combine sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer, mix with finger tips until sugar and zest are combined and resembles wet sand. Add butter and salt, beat with a paddle attachment at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes; using rubber spatula, scrape down bowl. Beat in extracts until combined, about 30 seconds.

4. Reduce speed to medium, add eggs one at a time; beat until partially incorporated, then scrape down bowl and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture will appear broken). Reduce speed to low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. Disengage bowl from mixer; using rubber spatula, gently fold in 3 cups of nectarines and blueberries until evenly distributed and no white streaks of flour remain.

5. Divide  batter evenly between prepared pans; with rubber spatula, using a pushing motion, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Reserve 2 tablespoons of streusel, sprinkle remaining streusel evenly over both batter. Bake until deep golden brown and toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes. Cool on wire rack 15 to 20 minutes (cake will fall slightly as it cools).

5. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Place upside-down plate on top of cake pan; invert cake, lift off cake pan. Leaving parchment round attached, re-invert cake onto cooling rack. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Nectarine Filling

Ingredients

1-1/2 cups (about 2 medium) nectarines, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons reserved streusel
2 tablespoons dark rum

Directions

1. Add nectarines and butter to a medium skillet and cook over medium heat until juices are released, about 3 minutes. Add streusel and cook for another minute until thickens. Stir in rum and cook until combined. (If mixture thickens too much add a splash of rum or water to loosen.) Remove from heat and cool completely.

Caramel Frosting

adapted from Cook’s Country
yield: about 2 cups

Ingredients

3/4 cup (6 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
12 tablespoons (1-1/2 stick/6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 12 pieces

Directions

1.Combine sugar, baking soda, flour, cornstarch, and salt in medium bowl. Slowly whisk in milk until very smooth. Pour mixture into medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture boils and is very thick, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer milk mixture to clean bowl and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

2. In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat cooled milk mixture and extract on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes.

Recipe Note

1. Milk base can be made ahead and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

2. Frosting can be refrigerated in airtight container for 1 week. When ready to use, let stand at room temperature until softened, about 1 hour. Beat with stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

Assembly

1. Place one cake layer, streusel side up, on a cake stand or serving platter, mix 1/2 cup of frosting to the filling and spread evenly over cake layer. Place 2nd cake layer, streusel side down, on the filling. Decorate the cake by spreading remaining frosting on top and side of cake. Refrigerate cake for 30 minutes to firm up before serving. (cake can be refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar September 7, 2012 at 8:04 am

So glad you ended up with a cake after all! And this one is certainly a beauty!!

Jenny September 7, 2012 at 8:18 am

Holy wow!

Brian @ A Thought For Food September 7, 2012 at 8:22 am

All those layers and textures and flavors!!! This is the best birthday cake ever!

Marc September 7, 2012 at 9:06 am

This looks so incredible, I might even attempt to bake. Gorgeous!!!

Helene September 7, 2012 at 9:46 am

A dense rich cake like I love eating. What a way to celebrate on your birthday. Love the pics!

Meeta September 7, 2012 at 9:51 am

OOh always make birthday cake for yourself! It’s important – we need to celebrate and cake – well cake is one of the best ways to do so. Glad you changed route and made one. Now I wish I was just close enough to you – maybe you would have invited me for a slice! I would bring along a bottle of bubbly!

Lynn September 7, 2012 at 11:45 am

Oh, I could just bury myself in your desserts! (So glad I discovered you.) My thought is whether a cake or another birthday dessert, doesn’t matter. What matters is that you do make one or the other as you only have that birthday once a year!

Russell van Kraayenburg September 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

I am loving the combination of flavors here, Ken. I bet the blueberry and nectarine are just divine in that cake batter. It looks wonderful too!

Lora @cakeduchess September 8, 2012 at 9:17 am

I love your beautiful cakes. They look absolutely delicious. One year we should celebrate our birthdays together. I’ll cook and you bake;) xxoo

Bunkycooks September 8, 2012 at 9:34 am

This is a stunner! Did I mention that I have a birthday next month?! Do you ship your cakes? ;-)

Laura Dembowski September 8, 2012 at 11:50 am

This cake is simply stunning! I can’t wait to make it, although it may have to wait until next summer when all the fruit is nicer. But that will give me another reason to look forward to summer!

MikeVFMK September 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm

That’s a great looking cake! Ken, you make cakes look amazing.

Meghan September 10, 2012 at 10:27 am

This is a beautiful cake and the flavors sound incredible! I hope you had a wonderful birthday Ken!

Margaret September 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

I’m glad you baked a birthday cake for yourself, and shared it because this was delicious! xoxo

Dena September 15, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Lovely cake.

Donna@NothingChocolate September 18, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Yowza!!! Multitude of flavors in one bite!!! Love this!

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