08/22/2014 04:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Peach Upside-Down Cake With Cognac Caramel

Viviane Bauquet Farre

This cake is perfection when made with the kind of fragrant peaches you can only get in mid-summer from a local farm.

To bring out the fruits' delightful flavors, the slices are pan-roasted and then drizzled with a buttery caramel spiked with Cognac. Moreover, the cake batter that tops the ambrosial peaches gives just the right amount of structure to the dessert while remaining light and moist.

A dollop of vanilla Chantilly is the only thing you need to accompany such a gorgeous cake. Happy baking and happy summer!


Wine pairing

A dessert wine, brimming with stone fruit flavors, is sublime here! Try a Sauternes from Bordeaux or a Riesling Ice Wine from Canada or Germany. Both of these wines have wonderful stone fruit notes that pair well with the peaches, and while they're both fairly sweet, their inherent acidity will prevent them from being too cloying. Make sure to serve these dessert wines chilled.

Peach upside-down cake with Cognac caramel

makes 1 medium cake or serves 6 to 8
active time: 45 min

For the Chantilly
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the peaches
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 medium ripe-but-firm yellow peaches (2 lbs) (905 g) - quartered and pit removed (if using larger peaches, cut in 2" slices)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons organic sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy

For the batter
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch sea salt
4 extra large eggs - at room temperature, separated
1 extra large egg white - at room temperature
3/4 cup organic sugar
4 oz (115 g) unsalted butter (8 tablespoons) - at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 - 9" round cake pan - lightly buttered, lined with wax paper and buttered again

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

Step 1: To make the Chantilly - Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip at medium speed until thick and ribbony. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Step 2: Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter. Once melted, add the peach slices, laying them on their side, and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until golden. Sprinkle the peach slices with 2 tablespoons of sugar and flip them, being careful not to break them. Continue to sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until golden-brown. Remove pan from heat and arrange the peach slices in a daisy pattern in the prepared mold, making sure to fit the slices tightly together. Set aside. Return the pan to the stove over medium/medium-high heat. Add the balance of the sugar, vanilla and Cognac and simmer, stirring continuously until a rich caramel forms (about 5 to 6 minutes). Immediately drizzle the caramel evenly over the peaches and set aside.

Step 3: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Step 4: Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip at medium speed until frothy. Increase to high speed and gradually add 1/4 cup sugar. Continue to whip at high speed until firm peaks form, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 5: Place the soft butter, the balance of the sugar and the vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip at slow speed until creamy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue whipping at medium speed until well incorporated and thick, about 1 minute. Add a third of the egg whites to the butter/egg yolk mixture and fold until well incorporated. Then add half the flour and carefully fold it in. Repeat again and fold until the egg whites and flour have been just incorporated. Finish by adding the balance of the egg whites and fold them in until just incorporated. Do not overmix. Spoon batter over the peaches, 1/4" from the edge. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 1 hour before un-molding, or keep in the mold until ready to serve. Invert the cake onto a serving platter and gently lift off the wax paper. Dust with the powdered sugar and serve each slice with a dollop of the Chantilly.

Cook's note: The cake can be made up to 12 hours ahead and kept at room temperature, in a cool place.