Let Them Eat (Breakfast) Cake

I'm a sucker for summer bounty. I spend hours upon hours strolling the local farmers markets, overloading my bag with various berries and stonefruit as they come into season. There's nothing better in the mornings than a breakfast of fresh fruit, but there are only so many blueberry pancakes and bowls of fruit-topped granola and cereal that I can take. Never one to turn down indulgences before noon, I've turned to making fruit-laden breakfast cakes. Less sugary than coffee cakes, breakfast cakes are a delicious way to showcase summer fruit. They're also a luxurious offering to houseguests -- I revel in presenting homemade baked breakfasts to unsuspecting visitors.

Simple to throw together, pretty as a picture and divine the following day, these beauties also work as a simple dessert with vanilla ice cream. As they dry out, I top them with a bit of vanilla yogurt. The blueberry pudding cake from Gourmet Magazine has been a staple since the magazine ran it on its July cover last year. I love the way the berries nestle into the cake and provide a perfect balance of tart and sweet. I have the recipe memorized and can whip it out in a flash. However, since making their appearance at my local market, nectarines have wiggled their way into top status, thanks to a spiced nectarine cake. With a simple cinnamon-laced topping and a lemon-infused dough, this cake is refreshing, but simple. With thinner slices of nectarines, the fruit sinks into the batter and flavors the entire cake. The recipe tastes just as delicious with peaches and plums.

Nectarine Cake
Nectarine cake. (Erin Hartigan)

If you do not have self-rising flour, use all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of salt per cup. Also, you can substitute brown sugar for the granulated sugar topping.

Spiced Nectarine Cake
Adapted from Bon Appétit

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour

4 medium nectarines, cut into approximately 10 slices
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a 9-inch-diameter springform pan. (I used a 10-inch springform with fantastic results.)

Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add 2/3 cup sugar and beat until blended. Beat in eggs one at a time, then lemon juice and lemon peel. Beat in flour until smooth. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan.

Arrange enough nectarine slices atop batter in concentric circles to cover completely, pressing lightly to adhere.

Mix cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar together. Sprinkle over cake.

Bake until cake is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour (50 minutes for plums, 80 minutes for peaches). Cut around cake to loosen; remove pan sides. Serve cake slightly warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 servings.

By Erin |  July 25, 2006; 8:33 AM ET Breakfast
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Hi there! This looks like a delicious cake, and I've got a bunch of nectarines sitting here. I was wondering: what is the leavening for this cake if you don't use self-raising flour? Baking powder or soda, and what amount? Thanks.

Posted by: Liza | July 25, 2006 10:37 AM

about.com re making self-rising flour:

In a large mixing bowl, measure 6 cups of flour.
Add 3 tablespoons baking powder.
Add 1 tablespoon salt.
Either sift together or mix with a wire whisk until well combined.

In other words, 1 Tbsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt per cup of flour.

Posted by: bigolpoofter | July 25, 2006 11:34 AM

I have frozen sliced strawberries at home (frozen from fresh). If I wanted to use these instead of the blueberries, should I defrost & drain them first or toss them in frozen? Thanks, Kim for the great recipes!!

Posted by: Mary | July 25, 2006 11:39 AM

Actually, the about.com recipe works out to the same proportions that are given in the article: 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt per cup of all-purpose flour. I think bigolpoofter accidentally divided by 3 instead of 6 for the baking powder!

Posted by: Marilee | July 25, 2006 12:53 PM

um, it would actually be 1/2 tablespoon for baking powder per cup of flour. Three tablespoons divided by six cups = 1/2 tablespoon each.

Posted by: am | July 25, 2006 1:03 PM

can it be made in a pan other than springform - and what is that?

Posted by: maria | July 25, 2006 7:02 PM

I love breakfast. This sounds wonderful and I can't wait to try it!

Posted by: Carolyn Redmond | July 27, 2006 12:08 PM

I found this cake to be extremely dry. The flavor characteristics were there, however it definitely needds some milk or yogurt added to the receipe to alleviate the dryness.

Posted by: KH | October 2, 2006 6:52 PM

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