Upside-down Peach Coffee Cake

There are very few fruits I enjoy more than a “freestone” peach. They have a very short season, so we grab them every time we get the chance. Unfortunately, they usually aren’t labeled so I never know if I am getting a freestone or a cling peach. We were so lucky to find them at our local Costco, but sadly the last batch seemed to have been exposed to too much refrigeration (almost as if they had been partially frozen) and while the flavor was great, the texture was horrible and they sucked to eat raw. I hated to toss them out…so I cooked them and made them all better!

Notice how the pit comes away cleanly from the flesh? That's the beauty of a freestone peach

Notice how the pit comes away cleanly from the flesh? That’s the beauty of a freestone peach

If you know me at all, you know I am not a coffee drinker, but that never stopped me from enjoying a good coffee cake! My mind wandered to pineapple upside down cake and how my Mom used to make it in a cast iron skillet and then I thought, “Why couldn’t I do a coffee cake like that?” In my mind, a coffee cake shouldn’t be overly sweet and this one isn’t. It’s perfect for breakfast or snacking and loaded with caramel and peaches. It’s dense and moist, so you don’t need a huge piece.

When I made this recipe I used a Lodge 12” cast iron skillet. It’s great for everything! I wouldn’t recommend a stainless pan for this recipe – hello, caramel – but an oven safe non-stick pan would work if you adjust the baking time as indicated. A couple of quick notes about the recipe:

  • No need to peel the peaches – BONUS!
  • I made it without the nuts in deference to the Hubby, but I bet it would be great with chopped nuts, so I included variation instructions
  • You can sub regular (not fat free or reduced fat) cream cheese for the mascarpone if you can’t like, but it will make the batter a little tangy
  • This recipe would work well with apples too
  • Cloves and peaches really work well together, so if you like that flavor, make your “pinch” a bit heavier. Same goes for apples.

Upside-down Peach Coffee Cake

serves 12 -16

active time 20 minutes – baking time 40-45 minutes

3 C all-purpose flour

1Tbsp baking powder

¾ tsp sea salt

¾ tsp cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

Pinch of nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)

3 large peaches sliced ¼” thick – use more if you want

¾ C packed brown sugar

¾ C unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)

¾ tsp cinnamon

¾ C chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

¼ C plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temp

1 1/8 C packed brown sugar

3 oz mascarpone cheese

3 eggs at room temp

1 ½ C buttermilk

1 Tbsp vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350

Combine the dry ingredients in a 1 qt bowl and whisk to blend. Set aside.

In a 12” oven safe skillet melt the butter, add the brown sugar and cook over medium flame until it starts to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Top with sliced peaches in a spiral pattern or something decorative. Sprinkle with chopped nuts. Set aside.

Cream together butter, brown sugar and mascarpone until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in thirds, alternating with buttermilk. Stir in vanilla. Mix well.

Pour cake batter onto the prepared peaches, gently spreading the batter to the edges of the skillet. It’s ok if you see a little melted butter around the edges of the pan.

Bake at 350 for about 40 – 45 minutes for cast iron, a bit less for a non-stick pan. Either way, check it at 30 minutes to see how much more time you will need. Top will slightly crack and bounce back when touched lightly and the edges will be dark golden brown.

Allow to cool in pan 10 – 15 minutes, then flip out on a large serving platter. Be CAREFUL, the melted sugar will burn the shit out of you if you get it on your skin. If you wait TOO long to flip it out the caramel won’t run down the sides of the cake and will glue itself to the bottom of the pan. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes after removal from the pan before serving to set the caramel and peaches. Tastes great warm or at room temp.