A day without coffee is like, well, no idea. I have no idea.
I do enjoy coffee as a hobby and have for some time. But I love it because it serves two purposes for me: a true brew enjoyment and a wake up potion. I have a real mom struggle balancing my time awake and asleep, because after the kids are in bed I bask in the quiet downtime I have before settling into bed myself. Adult tv shows and ice cream time. Shower and blogging time. Anything but loud children time.
But then I sleep, and a few short hours later I’m woken up by either: Older Son standing next to the bed peering at me inches from my face, or a jumpy toddler grabbing my cheeks and asking for “beffest.” That’s when I regret my decision to stay up late watching Seinfeld reruns. And so starts the day.
So, coffee and morning sunshine peeking through the window quickly charges my batteries.
Which finally brings me to this nectarine almond cake.
It’s sunny, happy, bright; and when I make this cake, I’m infused with the same feelings. This cake perfectly captures the final days of summer. The light almond flavor and golden nectarines are tucked into a short yet buttery crumb that’s warm and rustic. A sprinkle of nutmeg and cardamom elevate it to a heavenly level.
Let’s talk springform pans for a moment. I have a very basic one, and over the years it hasn’t been my favorite piece of equipment. It has given me both a gorgeous tall cheesecake and a huge sloppy leaking mess. Has this ever happened to you? Let me show you a secret.
First, unlatch the ring, then grab a sheet of foil, lay it over the bottom, then latch the ring back on. A good tight seal and easier cleanup. Since I’ve started doing this, I haven’t had any leaks. It’s the simple things.
Now onto the batter. The glorious creamy almond batter is fairly straightforward, but has the addition of a magical ingredient: almond meal. Almond meal is made from blanched and ground almonds, and is a fantastic gluten-free addition to baked goods. It’s a main ingredient in macaroons, frangipane, or marzipan (yum). It is not ground as finely as flour, but has a wonderful coarse texture (like cornmeal) that adds moisture and a rich nutty goodness to the cake.
Almond meal is not always a pantry staple, so in addition to the recipe below, I did make this cake using all flour (1 cup flour vs 3/4 flour and 1/4 almond meal) and it turned out just fine. The almond meal does make a delectable difference, but will survive without it.
In this recipe you’ll beat some butter and sugar, add eggs and extracts, then dry ingredients. Spread the batter into the pan, scatter chopped nectarine wedges over the top, and lastly, a sprinkle of spices and sugar. As it bakes, the batter will rise up over the fruit, nestling the juicy morsels into the cake and forming a beautiful golden top and crust.
Sometimes if I’m feeling extra fancy I sprinkle some sliced almonds on top. They’re not necessary, but the extra crunch adds a nice texture. We prefer to eat this cake by itself, but I imagine it would be wonderful with a bit of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream.
And there you have it. Wake up tomorrow, put a pot of coffee on, and bake yourself some sunshine. Summer is almost over, and fall is coming soon.
- 3/4 c flour
- 1/4 c almond meal*
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 c sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large nectarine (or 2 small), pitted and cut into wedges
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp raw sugar
- 1/4 c sliced almonds (optional)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Prepare a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray (and foil, if needed).
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat butter for 2 min. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, beat until incorporated.
Add both extracts, beat until incorporated.
Pour dry ingredients into batter and mix just until combined.
Scrape batter into the pan and spread evenly to the outer edges.
Scatter the nectarines on top of the batter.
Sprinkle the nutmeg and cardamom over top of the nectarines, then sprinkle raw sugar. Sprinkle sliced almonds, if using.
Bake 45-55 min until golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool 10 min and carefully remove the ring (if it looks like it might stick, run the back of a knife around it first).
Serve warm or room temp.
*If you don't have almond meal, you can swap it out for the same amount (1/4 c) of regular flour.