My mom was not a baker. She could barbecue a steak and make a great salad but when it came to dessert it was Van de Kamp’s chocolate chip cookies from the cookie drawer or Baskin Robbins ice cream from the freezer. She once made a pineapple upside down cake from a box and while I was intrigued with the whole notion of an upside down cake, I never desired one again.

Years later when I was attending the Cordon Bleu, I was reintroduced to the upside down cake and tart and changed my thinking of just how good that dessert could be. A simple buttery sponge cake crowned with a halo of caramelized fruit was a thing of beauty as well as a sweet end to any meal. Since then I have gone on to make myriad upside down cakes with stellar results every time. I’ve made the cake batter with nuts, cornmeal and brown butter. This cake is enriched with sour cream offering up a moist cakey result.

Nectarines can be either freestone or clingstone. As it sounds clingstone means the pit sticks to the fruit and is more difficult to remove. If you ask your produce person for freestone nectarines, it will be easy to remove and slice the nectarines. If you find the fruit clings to the pit, use a paring knife to help you free the slices from the pit. Nectarines have a smooth skin that doesn’t need to be removed. You can use whichever nectarine variety you prefer.  Just remember to select ones that are not too soft; otherwise they will fall apart.

Upside down cakes are traditionally baked in cast iron skillets. The upside down cake is an old-fashioned dessert that belongs in the Seriously Simple recipe box. You can use any heavy deep pan that will allow the fruit to caramelize on top of the stove. I actually use my tart tatin pan with its rounded edges. I hope you’ll try this recipe as a basic for you and then branch out with other flavors and fruits depending upon the season.

Note: This is best eaten warm the day it is made. It can be reheated a day later and the cake will remain moist


Butterscotch Nectarine Sour Cream Upside-Down Cake

Serves 8 to 12



1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 baking cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 large eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1 small nectarine, finely chopped



6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup butterscotch morsels

4 medium nectarines, pitted and cut into 1 1/2-inch slices


  • Preheat the oven to 375. For the cake: In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
  • With an electric mixer on medium speed or in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, beat the butter until softened. Slowly add the sugar and beat the mixture until it is light, thick, and lemon colored. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat until incorporated. Slowly add the flour mixture and then add the sour cream and beat to combine.  Add the chopped nectarine and mix to combine. Reserve.
  • For the nectarines: Melt the butter on medium heat in a heavy 9 or 10-inch cast iron skillet or pan. Add the brown sugar and the butterscotch morsels and melt with the butter. When the mixture becomes bubbly, add the nectarine slices in a single layer. Cook in the syrup for about 2 minutes per side or until both sides are caramelized. (Use tongs to move them around.) Be careful they do not become too dark. The nectarines will exude juice and keep the caramel from burning. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Rearrange the nectarine slices in a pretty pattern.
  • Spoon the cake batter on top of the nectarine mixture and gently spread it around to cover the fruit with a spatula. Bake for about 27 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean in the center. Cool the cake in the skillet for 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of the pan by carefully running a knife around the outside edge and then invert it onto a cake platter. (Use potholders to protect your hands). Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or frozen yogurt.

By: Diane Rossen Worthington