The Topping is Tops: Apricot-Pecan Upside-Down Cake

I love summer. Not the sticky, sweaty D.C. weather, but the amazing produce the season brings. Stone fruits are my favorite, and being able to enjoy the abundance of peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, cherries, and apricots almost makes the hot and humid misery worthwhile. After buying a quart of small, intensely-colored, uniformly-sized apricots at the farmer's market, I decided they would be perfect for an Apricot-Pecan Upside-Down Cake.

The topping for this cake is supposed to include both halved cherries and halved apricots, with the cherries nestled inside the apricots to form a bi-colored concentric circular pattern. I decided to skip the cherries because my apricots were so small that the cavity left from the pit was too small to accommodate half of a bing cherry. To make the topping, you cook butter with brown sugar until the mixture begins to bubble, and the pour it into the bottom of the cake pan. Then you sprinkle over chopped pecans and arrange the fruit on top. I decided to double this recipe (after all, I had an entire quart of apricots) and make it in a 9-inch by 13-inch pan.

To make the cake batter, you beat softened butter with sugar; add eggs followed by vanilla; and alternately add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt) and milk. You spoon the batter over the fruit in the pan and bake. After it's done, you cool the cake for 10 minutes before unmolding it.
I was very happy that I didn't have any problem getting the cake out of the pan. The recipe says that you should heat any remaining brown sugar-butter topping mixture in the pan and pour it over the cake, but all of my topping came out out the pan with the cake. The directions say the cake should be served warm but I was taking mine to the office the next day, so I served it at room temperature.

I really liked the topping of this cake, which was both sweet and a bit tangy from the fruit. But I thought the cake was just meh. While it was moist, it didn't have a lot of flavor, except for the nutmeg, which is not exactly my favorite spice (unless it's combined with cinnamon). While a little of the topping syrup did soak into the cake, the cake-to-topping ratio was pretty high; as you can see in the photo above, the cake is relatively tall.

Because I made this cake two days after baking the Rhubarb-Almond Cake, I couldn't help comparing the two -- and the actual cake portion of the rhubarb cake tastes much better. Then again, I might be giving this cake short shrift, since I didn't actually try it warm -- and I imagine that the suggested accompaniment of whipped cream (or maybe ice cream!) could do wonders. But at least the beautiful and delicious apricots were the focus of the cake, which is just what I wanted.

Recipe: "Apricot-Pecan Upside-Down Cake" from