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Recipe: peach upside down cake

It would seem that everyone on the flats got word of the leaves turning and came in droves to the mountains over the weekend. Either that or they were looking for their final summer jaunt before the autumnal equinox arrives this Saturday. Bluebird skies and gold stands mark the start of my favorite season. We lose our daylight hours fastest this time of year.

cottonwoods gone yellow

sunsets don’t linger as long

We drove in the opposite direction from most of the traffic and joined my parents for dinner at our favorite sushi bar in Boulder. Fall is when they leave Colorado, because they aren’t big fans of winter. I think they had a nice summer here though, with all of the happy hours, exploring, dinners, lunches, visits, bottles of wine consumed, and Kaweah-time.

hamachili special

And the farmers market was abuzz with activity. People were looking to get their summer loving on, but it started to look like the season was winding down. At the northern end of the market, there was a sign where I normally bought my peaches, “Sold out! See you next year!” That was like a little knife in my gut.

greens, peppers, eggplants, onions…

and still some tomatoes

I promised if you came back today, I’d have something other than tomatoes. I did manage a few pounds of late season peaches from Colorado’s western slope. Sweet, juicy, almost buttery. Panic sets in when you realize these sunshiny orbs are on their way out for the year and a sudden urge to make yet another batch of jam overrides all reason. I did just that and still had a few pounds left over. It’s been a while since I’ve baked a cake…

peaches, butter, sugars, flour, milk, vanilla, eggs, baking soda, salt

There is an ever-growing list of recipes I want to make. I should say lists, because they reside on sticky notes – both virtual and physical, scraps of paper, notes on my iPhone, emails to myself. Fruity upside down cakes surfaced recently. They have great appeal because I’m more of a fruit girl than a cake girl and then there is that whole business of caramelized goodness. Why not use some of the last peaches?

melt the butter and brown sugar

cook until it bubbles

Something I learned about the peaches this summer was that different varieties marched through the markets. When I first got my grubby little hands on peaches for jamming in July, they were clingstone peaches. Good thing I was jamming them because it was like a peach murder scene trying to get those buggers off the pits. Thankfully, this late season batch was of the freestone variety – which easily releases from the pit and makes for pretty slices.


arrange in the pan

Whipping up the cake batter is relatively straightforward: cream the butter and sugar, add vanilla and eggs (one at a time, please), stir in half of the dry ingredients, stir in the milk, then add the rest of the dry ingredients. Right now, I’m all for quick and easy.

beat an egg into the butter and sugar

fold in some flour mixture

stir in the milk

fold the rest of the dry ingredients in until just combined

I was a little too excited about making this peach upside down cake, and failed to note that the recipe called for a 10-inch skillet. I don’t own a 10-inch cast iron skillet. Mine is 12-inches. This became evident to me when I was spreading the batter over the peaches. Huh, I wonder why there seems to be so little batter… This 20 percent increase in radius results in a 44 percent increase in surface area. I crossed my fingers that the batter would spread and expand, and popped it into the oven.

pour the batter over the fruit

lo! it’s a short cake, but it covered the pan!

It’s a good idea to let the cake cool in the pan a little bit before trying to invert it onto a plate. Cast iron has an impressive heat capacity as does caramelized sugar. Remember that. Of course, you don’t want to let it cool completely such that it doesn’t release from the pan (or only half releases, which may result in many tears). I imagine the same holds true if you use a cake pan except for the heat capacity part. Despite my thin cake, it all held together and came out beautifully. But the best part was that it tasted like buttery, peach heaven in a cake. Definitely a dessert worth sharing.


bffs: peach upside down cake and vanilla bean ice cream

Peach Upside Down Cake
[print recipe]
from the great David Lebovitz

3 tbsps unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3-4 large peaches, peeled and sliced thick (like 3/4-inch thick)

8 tbsps unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (210 g) flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder, aluminum-free
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk, room temperature

Notes: You can use a 10-inch cast iron skillet or a 9-inch cake pan for this recipe, although David does not recommend using a spring form pan (because you’re caramelizing butter and sugar which will likely leak and make a huge mess – like everywhere). I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet (I don’t have a 10-inch) and it worked just fine, although I would have preferred a little more cake to go with the fruit.

Place 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and the light brown sugar in your skillet or cake pan over high heat and stir until the sugar has melted. It should begin to bubble, at which point you should remove it from the heat and let it cool. Place the peach slices down in the pan in a radial pattern (just make it look nice). Preheat the oven to 350°F while you make the cake batter. Beat the 8 tablespoons of butter and sugar together until they are fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, then beat an egg in until smooth and repeat for the last egg. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the batter. Stir in the milk. Then stir in the rest of the dry ingredients until just mixed (don’t overmix the batter). Pour the batter over the peaches in the pan, spreading it around to nooks and crannies in the fruit. Bake 45-60 minutes or until the edges of the cake pull from the sides and the center is not gooey. Take the pan out of the oven and let cool 20 minutes. Flip the cake onto a plate. It’s best to do this by setting the plate on the pan and, while wearing oven mitts, inverting the pan onto the plate. The cake should release, but beware of caramelized sugar that could both burn you and make a mess. Serve warm. Serves 8-10.

67 nibbles at “peachy”

  1. Laurel says:

    This post makes my home-sick heart ache for beautiful Boulder! Oh the mouth-watering peaches, the bright and sunny aspens, the gorgeous sunsets; how I miss them all!

  2. debbie says:

    Delicious…..I want to just bake that right now!

  3. Lois Yoder says:

    Was just loking at your Blog and was reading the Peach-upside down recipe. Iwant to try it with my frozen blue berries or probably fresh apples. Lois

  4. Kristin says:

    Oh my gosh…that looks so good. I would eat it right now for breakfast if I had it!

  5. Brianne says:

    I also don’t own a 10 inch cast iron skillet–mine is 12 inches, too, and I really don’t want to get one just for desserts like these. I’m glad things still work out!

  6. hima says:

    The cake is absolutely stunning, despite the 12-inch v. 10-inch pan mix up. I have succumb, however, to the lure of even more peach jam…as if I don’t already have jars coming out of my ears.

  7. Diane, A Broad says:

    It’s like a peachy tarte tatin! Brilliant! I’m going to have to rush to do this one before I can’t find peaches at the greenmarket anymore.

  8. Heidi says:

    Although I have banana bread in the oven right now, I’m planning to make this tonight. Never can have enough bread products around!

  9. what katie's baking says:

    i love upside down cakes. this one looks so good!

  10. Margie says:

    Pretty item, and no doubt, delicious (it’s a ‘David’ gem)!

    I think I might prefer the larger baking radius area for this…not so cakey, per bite.

  11. Jess says:

    This bidness is right up my m-fing alley. I will try it for a dinner party Wednesday!

  12. nurdan says:

    it looks great. I also do it with apples and pears.

  13. Alisa says:

    Thanks for the awesome recipe! We are having excellent nectarines atm and this looks like a great cake to bring to the lab!

  14. Tracy says:

    Thank you for sharing! The recipe says 1.5 cups flour. Do you think I can use all cake flour here? And if so, is it wise to follow the general rule of 1 cup + 2 TB of cake flour for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour?

  15. Tracy says:

    Well, I tried the recipe and it was fabulous. Used 3/4 cup all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup cake flour – the cake turned out light, moist and completely scrumptious. I followed the recipe to the letter, only substituting red pluots for the peaches. I will absolutely make this again, and try it with other fruits!

  16. Malibu Canyon Dirt Dash Recap | says:

    […] but not before whipping up a Peach Upside-Down Cake from Use Real […]

  17. megan says:

    I actually would really love to eat that cake you made, because sometimes I end up picking the fruit off the top of the cake so i get a better fruit to cake ratio..!

  18. jenyu says:

    Laurel – I think I love Boulder this time of year most of all.

    Debbie – it’s far easier than I thought it would be!

    Lois – yes, that sounds great (and you can sub in almost any fruit, really).

    Kristin – it’s wonderfully fruity!

    Brianne – yes! You could alternatively increase the quantity by 50% and it would work.

    hima – peach jam is hard to resist!

    Diane – yes, except with cake instead of buttery crust :)

    Heidi – ha ha!

    what katie’s baking – it’s pretty AND tasty :)

    Margie – yeah, come to think of it, I like the increased ratio of fruit to cake (just add more fruit!)

    Jess – ;)

    nurdan – yes, I’m just a huge fan of fruit desserts in general.

    Alisa – lucky lab!

    Tracy – Sorry I didn’t get to this before you tried it. I don’t really know much about cake flour substitutions, but it sounds like it worked out for you! Thanks for the notes!!

    megan – me too! :)

  19. Teri says:

    You may want to try this with almond flavoring instead of vanilla. That pears very well with peaches!!

  20. Adrienne says:

    I don’t even like cake, but this looks amazing!! And makes me want to eat it soooo bad!

  21. Janeen says:

    Since peaches are out of season I used my canned peaches and it turned out delish! Thank you for posting.

  22. Christie says:

    Living near the self proclaimed peach capitol (Johnston, SC) I can not WAIT to try this!! We have peach everything here!!

  23. Friday Favorites | thesweetooth says:

    […] Summer Treat: Can’t wait to have peaches on the tree to make this Peach Upside Down Cake. Looks […]

  24. Jill says:

    does it have to be aluminum free powder? what’s the difference? I only have aluminum here.

  25. jenyu says:

    Jill – David Lebovitz has a nice post about it here:

  26. Cindy Brister says:

    How long did you let it cool before you flipped it?

  27. jenyu says:

    Cindy – the recipe says 20 minutes.

  28. Lauren says:

    This was on my Pinterest board and was calling my name! It was delicious and easy to make. I used frozen peaches, but I’m sure fresh would be be better!

  29. Lisa says:

    I also found this on Pinterest! What an easy but beautiful recipe. Now all I need is a good cast iron pan:)

  30. Katie | The Hill Country Cook says:

    WOW!!! I’m definitely going to try this! Wonder if I could make an upside down peach PIE!!! :) I LOVE PIE!

    ~peace, love, and pies y’all!

  31. Elzi Silva says:

    Adorei, amo essa torta, obrigada pela receita.

  32. Joy says:

    Hi, David. I have been making this for years for family and friends. I use cinnamon, sprinkled across the peaches and a Jiffy Golden Yellow Cake mix, substituting the water for the peach syrup. Yes, I will used canned peaches or those I have put up in the freezer. I also add 1 tsp of cinnamon to the cake mix. Baked in an 8″ cake pan with a parchment lined bottom. Never fails and is always a crowd pleaser! Ha, I thought I was the only one to have made this recipe, pah! I call mine “Peach Cobbler Cake”.

  33. Joy says:

    BTW…for those interested, bake at 350 degrees, 45-50 minutes.

  34. darcysmom says:

    I made this tonight – and it looks gorgeous! I greased my pan with butter before pouring the brown sugar mixture in and it popped right out after cooling for 20 minutes in the pan. We are very excited to cut into it after dinner tonight.
    Thanks for such an easy recipe (that comes out looking so elegant).

  35. Taryn says:

    AMAZING!!!Made this cake tonight. Had to use 2% milk because its all we had. Husband said one of the best cakes he’s ever had. Thank you!

  36. Frances Markland says:

    This sounds absolutely delicious.

  37. Brenda says:

    No PIN button-I so wanted to PIN this recipe.

  38. Robin S. says:

    I made this yesterday with my daughter and it was wonderful. Gooey, buttery and moist. I highly recommend this with a nice spoon full of real whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, or alone. It goes great with a nice hot cup of coffee in the morning too. That is what I just did with my leftover single piece.

  39. Peach Upside Down Cake | Molly Makes Food says:

    […] Finally I was able to start making this amazing looking peach upside down cake I found on Pinterest a couple of months ago before peaches were in season. I mean, look at this recipe and those pictures! If your mouth isn’t watering, you should probably go get your salivary glands checked out. […]

  40. Peach Upside Down Cake - Moms Need To Know ™ says:

    […] will be in season very soon. Hang onto this recipe for Peach Upside Down Cake to try out when they are….it looks amazing! To make it you will […]

  41. marine wife says:

    My cake is baking away in the oven right now! I added a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top of the peaches and a little in the cake batter. I can’t wait till its done. My husband and I LOVE peaches. I have never baked from ripe fresh peaches before, so we can’t wait to taste it

  42. Baking is Good for the Soul – Upside Down Peach Cake by Use Real Butter | Haphazard Notions says:

    […] again, check out Use Real Butter for the full recipe. Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestRedditTumblrEmailStumbleUponLike this:Like Loading… Written […]

  43. Lindsey says:

    I have made this twice and I love it!

  44. Laura says:

    I just attempted to make this in my 12″ cast iron skillet. I think my pan wasn’t quite pre-seasoned (ie was too dry, not oiled enough), either that I added too much brown sugar. It immediately turned into caramel candy- hard and stuck to the pan. It seemed like there wasn’t enough butter. I assume the brown sugar measurement is packed? That’s the only other thing I can think of that happened. Since I’ve already cut and prepped my beautiful peaches I am going to try again using a parchment lined 8″ pan. Maybe I’ll 11/2 the recipe and put it in two 8″ pans. Unfortunately, my cast iron skillet is pooched. I cannot get the candy out- its hard as a rock. FYI- I know I cooked it for too long bc I kept waiting for it to melt and thin out. Obviously I’ve never made candy before, as I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly- 3 min tops. :) now I have a recipe for candy apples. Lol. But no cast iron skillet.

  45. jenyu says:

    Laura – if you fill the pan with warm or boiling water, let it sit and the sugar should dissolve so you can clean the pan. I doubt it immediately turned into caramel candy as it takes a little time for the sugar to caramelize. Most likely, it seized and looked grainy and dry rather than clear and smooth. Yes, the brown sugar is packed (you can see this in the photograph). Instead of trying to caramelize the sugar in the pan, you really just want to melt the butter, introduce the brown sugar, and stir until it is melted. That’s all. The caramelization will happen when you bake the cake. Best of luck on your next attempt.

  46. Maritza says:

    Hello! I have a big bag of peaches and can’t wait to try this… So, I’m wondering if I put my skillet on the BBQ on low setting?? Same time you think?? Thanks for ur response!!

  47. jenyu says:

    Maritza – That’s tough to gauge without a thermometer. If you have a nice grill, it will have a temperature gauge (in which case, set it to 350°F). If you don’t have a built-in gauge, then you can purchase a thermometer (oven or grill) and try to keep it close to 350°F. Good luck!

  48. The 5 | Half Pint Life says:

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  49. Kristi says:

    Just finished baking this recipe!. It was super easy and looks so beautiful I almost don’t want to cut into it!!! Can’t wait to serve it for dessert tonight along with some vanilla bean ice cream. I hope my guests will love it!

  50. Deborah says:

    I just made a gluten free version of this cake yesterday. It turned out divine! All I did was swap the regular wheat flour with an all purpose gluten free flour blend like this one here:

    Thanks for a delicious recipe for Autumn.

  51. UpSideDown | WildRose Gypsy says:

    […] I got the recipe from Use Real Butter’s website!  First off… how could I not like this gal’s site… any country lady knows Butter is Better So Thanks Jen for the recipe!! Check out her blog here for more Recipes! It is so easy!! […]

  52. Peach Upside Down Cake | Normal Cooking says:

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  53. AnnaB says:

    I made this yesterday in my 8in cast iron pan (worked beautifully, no overflow). I really liked it, but it was WAY too sweet. I think I’ll try it again, but with less of both sugars!

  54. Summer Fruit finds on Pinterest - Simple Sojourns says:

    […] recipe up a bit with another one of my favorite summer fruits. I’m loving the recipe for Peach Upside Down Cake from Jen at Use Real […]

  55. Denise says:

    I made this for my hubby’s birthday last month and it was delicious and super easy! I’m wondering how I could double it for a baby shower I’m throwing this weekend…thoughts? 2 layers? I do have two cast iron skillets.

  56. jenyu says:

    Denise – make two separate ones. I wouldn’t do layers.

  57. Jennifer says:

    This was so good, I made a second one today! I used plums the first time because I had them and happened across this recipe. It just came out of the oven, and smells heavenly! Thanks for sharing. Btw, I used a Pampered Chef deep dish baker (about 11″ in diameter) because I don’t have cast iron.

  58. Penny says:

    I made this with peaches and blueberries in the middle. I also used almond extract instead of vanilla. So pretty and delicious

  59. Lisa says:

    Just made this recipe in a cast iron skillet baked on my grill. That’s right my grill! Worked out perfectly. Although I did have to turn the heat up by 5° to make up the difference.

  60. melirod says:

    terrific recipe –
    outta whole milk but buttermilk was a great sub – and threw in just a few raspberries in the center and between the first and second peach rows – stunning and delish!

  61. Peach Upside Down Cake | Refined + Rugged says:

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  62. Keely says:

    Wow! What an amazing cake. I can’t normally bake cakes but I just baked this peach upside down cake and it turned out perfect. Thank you soo much.

  63. Elvina says:

    Could you substitute nectarines for the peaches?

  64. jenyu says:

    Elvina – I’ve never tried it, but it sounds lovely.

  65. Lori says:

    Can you use a regular cake pan for this instead of a cast iron?

  66. jenyu says:

    Lori – I think as long as you can caramelize the butter and sugar in it, then yes.

  67. suzanne says:

    7/23: i made this today and it was DELISH! i used half AP flour and half cake because that’s what i had. 12″ cast iron skillet. i scaled the ingredients by 1.5 to account for the increased pan size… perfect. we ate it warm at lunch just now. the peaches i used were quite ripe but didn’t dissolve like i thought they might. they kept their shape nicely.

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