One of the best things about going to graduate school in a STEM field is the opportunity to meet so many international students. During my years in the chemistry department I became friends with students from Turkey, Iran, Sri Lanka, Brazil, India, Egypt, China, Korea, Russia, Pakistan, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. And that was great. Not so great: when we all graduate and they have to move back to their home countries! It’s always a bummer when friends scatter after graduation, but it’s particularly difficult when they’re moving back to another continent.
This weekend one of them came back! My friend Turki moved home to Saudi Arabia when he graduated, but after a long job search he has accepted a position back in the States. Obviously this was cause for a celebration; time for a dinner party!
For some reason I decided to make shrimp and grits. If you haven’t explored this blog before, you might not know that I’m a vegetarian. So Hi, I’m Christine and I am a vegetarian. But for special occasions I don’t mind cooking meat for other people to eat. I didn’t take pictures while I cooked that, so I’m not here to share that recipe. But you can take a peak at what the final dish looked like!
While I was out buying shrimp, I passed by this delicious-smelling display of peaches. Since this is turning into a getting-to-know-Christine post, I guess I should tel you that I suffer from something called oral allergy syndrome. Basically you are allergic to certain fruits and vegetables because they are closely related to the trees, grasses, and weeds that you’re allergic to. Oral allergy syndrome usually just means you’ll get an itchy mouth when you eat those foods, but for me it causes anaphylaxis. No fun. But one thing that’s great about it is that usually you can eat the same food if you cook it. Anyway, I’m allergic to fresh peaches. It’s terrible because peaches are so damn delicious and they smell so amazing when you’re simply walking by them in the grocery store.
I needed to make a dessert for dinner anyway, so I decided to make a peach version of an upside-down cake. I’m pretty sure I had tried a peach upside-down cake before, but that recipe had called for coconut oil. I know the world likes to pretend that they can’t taste coconut oil, but this girl can taste the coconut and this girl does not like it. So I needed to try something new. I came across a recipe similar to what I was planning on the Use Real Butter blog, so I adjusted that recipe to match my palate.
I also didn’t remember until I got home that I had already packed up all my baking dishes in preparation of the move (that hasn’t happened yet). I had a pie plate, but it seemed too shallow so this turned into a skillet cake. I’m late to the world of cast-iron skillets. My mom never had one when I was growing up and they just always seemed unnecessary to me. Clearly I was wrong.
Guys, not only was the cake delicious but while eating it I got to learn even more about Saudi Arabia. This tidbit really takes the cake. So I was talking about how I really don’t want twins if I have kids and my friend Turki said “why not? You only have to be pregnant once and if they look alike you can win contests.” After some prodding I learned that SAUDI ARABIA HAS CONTESTS WHERE PAIRS OF TWINS COMPETE TO SEE WHO LOOKS THE MOST ALIKE!!! That’s just amazing to me.
Peach Upside-Down Cake (adjusted from the recipe on the Use Real Butter blog)
For the topping
- 4-5 peaches, peeled and sliced
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cardamom
For the cake
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour (you can use all-purpose but be very careful not to overmix)
- 1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup milk (I had skim so that’s what I used)
Preheat your oven at 350F. For the topping, add the sugar and butter to your skillet.
Melt the butter, swirling until the sugar is dissolved and melted. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the cardamom on top.
Arrange the peach slices on top of the warm sugar mixture. In theory you can do this however you want, but I feel like a spiral is really the way to go here. But hey: you do you.
Now it’s time to make the cake batter. Blend the butter and sugars on high speed of your mixer until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Slowly fold in half of the dry ingredients (I didn’t preblend my dry ingredients because I’m lazy). Mix in the milk and then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Pour over the peaches.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the center is set. Let cool, then invert onto your serving dish or plate.