Baking with Julia – Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake

Julie & Julia is on TV so you’ll have to excuse me if I’m distracted. I really like this movie and I’ve lost my copy of it. I know its kind of controversial in the foodie world because some people don’t really like Julie but what can I say? She loves Buffy, I love Buffy, therefore she’s on my good side. Plus Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are in my top 10 cutest people on earth list. So is Walter Matthau, even though he’s not bodily on this earth anymore. Natalie Portman is grudgingly there because she’s so cute I want to slap her beautiful face.

Moving on, this cake is pretty goddamn good guys. I mean, it was a hell of a lot of work, but I’m not opposed to that as long as the payoff is good. And this one is totally and completely goooooooooooooooooood.

Stone fruits are still not my friend in that I seem to kind of destroy them when trying to get them apart to pit but I managed alright. Isn’t this pretty? The directions said to melt the butter in the pan directly over the burner but when I tried that my butter started dripping out of the pan pretty much right away so I pulled it off and just used my pastry brush to shmear it around and melt it the rest of the way after I wrapped the bottom in aluminum foil. Guess I have a cheapy spring-form pan and might need to replace it at some point.

It felt pretty patriotic to be making a chiffon cake on Labor Day since the book says it’s truly an American creation and the only new cake to be invented in the last 100 years – that’s kinda cool, right? Obviously different flavors of cake are invented all the time but what makes this one unique is in the ingredients that make up the base. Instead of butter, vegetable oil is used for the fat and though it requires the dreaded folding technique it seems easier because you’re folding two liquid-y things together instead of dry into wet which is the literal WORST. Here is the egg yolk mixture which I thought had such a beautiful texture – very pillowy and soft looking.

The whites get made into a beautiful shiny meringue before getting back together with the sunny yolk mixture.

Meringues are my favorite thing to make in my stand mixer (Candy) because they are the reason I got her as a gift in the first place. The summer before I got her, I tried to make Tristan a lemon meringue pie and I labored for over 40 minutes with my hand mixer to get the right consistency for the meringue. It was awful. I told him that I would never make one for him again until I got a stand mixer and guess what I received for Christmas that year??? :) It’s just such a thrilling transformation from kinda yucky looking egg whites to this lovely, shiny cloud of yumminess, isn’t it?

So those two got folded together and while I was doing it I just tried to keep repeating “Gently but thoroughly, gently but thoroughly” over and over again. I think I did alright. I only have a 9″ springform pan so this is what it looked like once I got things all situated:

I was a little worried about overflow, but since it’s an upside-down cake I didn’t fret overmuch about it. There was a little bit of a Quasimodo sitch in the oven, but I scraped it off the pan and ate it and was very encouraged by both the flavor and consistency.

Like everyone else I had to bake this for a lot longer than the book stated – about an hour and fifteen minutes – but I thought it had to do with the fact that I used a smaller pan. As you can see, I do have an oven thermometer so I know my oven is the right temperature so that couldn’t be it. Oh well, that’s what a cake tester is for, right?

I let it cool down a bit and then I broke off the overflow edges, ran a knife around the side and voila!

I forgot about the reserved streusel thingies at first but eventually I remembered them and got the cake to its finished state. I still have some of Dorie’s vanilla ice cream that I made for the Peach Melba so we ate it with that and it. was. AWESOME!

Like I said before, this was kind of a lot of work but it was so worth it. Not like an every day kind of worth it, but definitely special occasion worthy. I’m dying to try it with apples or pears once it gets more fall-timey outside. Can I just say that I am in agreement with both Confessions of a Cookbook Queen and Cookies & Cups, I am SO over summer. Bring on the crisp weather and sock-wearing. Sweating sucks. The book said this cake is best the first day but phooey to that. I’m definitely having some tonight and it will still be delicious, I know it.

The hosts for this week are my super amazing friend Susan from The Little French Bakery and Marlise from The Double Trouble Kitchen (who I’m sure is great too) so visit them for the recipe to make one of these happen in your life. It’s worth it, I swear.

28 thoughts on “Baking with Julia – Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake

  1. I had to bake my cake a little longer because the middle was still rather jiggly at the 50 minute mark. But then that caused my cake to overbake and sink a bit in the middle. Yours turned out great!

  2. I agree it was a lot of work but once I have made somthing before it goes quicker the next time. That’s what I am hoping for here. You are braver than I am. I was too chicken to have it spill out of my 9 inch pan so I went and bought a 10 inch. Looks great :)

  3. There should be some sort of Baker’s Creed: What happens during baking…stays in the kitchen. Or is it stays in the oven? Sounds like a Julia Childism.

    You should have seen the Frankenstein mess I made of the top-turned-bottom when I tried to cover it with foil during baking. Everything stuck. But I flipped it as directed and voila — nobody was the wiser. You’re a braver soul than I: my photo of the mess never made it to the blog post. As the Bard says, all’s well that ends well.

  4. Maggie, What a hoot!
    Your cake looks absolutly amazing. I can never add any like comments because of the lak of baking anything. Should I get a Candy like mixer and start learning how to do this stuff over the winter months?
    I will start with breads!
    Good job again Maggs!

    • I thought you have a stand mixer Daddio? Isn’t it under the counter in the mess that is the lower cabinets? If you promise to use it, you should get one and make bread. It is very satisfying and makes the house smell REALLY good! Love you!

  5. I love that your stand mixer has a name. I’m kicking myself that I skipped the cake this week because it looks fantastic. I agree that I’m ready for fall foods. Time for apples. Have a great week.

  6. Wow! You really got some height on your cake, smaller pan or no. I’m hoping that summer will hang on long enough for my tomatoes to finish ripening, but then I’m right with you on the autumn goodness.

  7. Mine overflowed as well, even in a ten inch pan. It was delish, though, and easier t han I thought it would be. Yours looks wonderful!

  8. It looks like all traces of hunchback moments disappeared when the cake was flipped – lovely job!
    I love Julie and Julia (but more for the Julia parts than the Julie parts). It’s on tonight :-)

  9. Never would have known you had a Quasimodo moment from your finished picture. Your cake looks beautiful! And I agree — I thought this cake was actually better on the 2nd and 3rd day. Especially for breakfast! ;)

  10. My heart stopped beating at the Quasimodo image… I can imagine what yours did!
    In the end it turned out beautiful.
    I made it twice and unfortunately couldn’t like it.

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