This month, I found myself thinking about carrot cake. Specifically, about the way that a slice of carrot cake works wonders alongside an IPA—it’s one of those classic pairings that’s beloved of beer sommelier types, probably in part because it sounds like it shouldn’t work.
Early September isn’t really the time for carrot cake, though. And so I turned to peaches, which, while they’re still in season, are the perfect way to see out summer’s final weeks. This peach upside-down cake is lightly perfumed with cardamom, and offers just the right amount of yielding squidge.
But what really makes it stand out? In lieu of the traditional caramel that most upside-down cakes call for, I made a caramel with miso.
Lately, I’ve seen miso crop up in a number of dessert recipes - from butterscotch budino to white chocolate chip cookies. It’s a fantastic and beguiling ingredient, because, alongside a heavy hit of umami, it offers a rich sweetness, too. Think of this as an alternative to salted caramel, but with an incredible depth of flavour, and a complex, savoury character that balances out all the sugar.
Evil Twin Sumo in a Sidecar makes for an almost too-good- to-be- true pairing option. An apricot IPA with, as the brewery says, “a dash of umami”, it’s a beer that, unsurprisingly, does extremely well with a stone fruit dessert that has umami of its own.
Lately, I’ve been intrigued about the way that hoppy beers and umami flavours work together; still, this may be the first example of an umami IPA I can remember trying. Skeptics, note that the umami is subtle, but the beer feels richer for the addition. And with still-warm cake on the side, well - it’s hard not to be convinced.
Peach Upside Down Cake with Miso Caramel
Adapted from The New York Times and Food 52
For the miso caramel:
150g granulated sugar
120ml double cream, room temperature
2 tbs white miso
For the upside-down cake:
115g softened unsalted butter, plus additional to grease the pan
3 large, ripe peaches
130g all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ground cardamom
150g caster sugar
3 large eggs
Crème fraîche, to garnish
First, prepare the caramel. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the water and sugar and stir briefly to combine. Heat over medium-high heat. Once the sugar has fully dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble, refrain from stirring further, though it’s fine to gently swirl the pan (or, using a wet pastry brush, brush down the sides to incorporate any errant sugar crystals).
Let the mixture boil for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until its colour darkens to a deep amber. Once it begins to darken, keep a close eye on it, as the caramelisation will happen very quickly. When it is dark amber, immediately remove from the heat. Add the cream in a slow but steady stream, whisking rapidly to incorporate it. The mixture will bubble
up when the cream is first added, so be careful to avoid burns.
When the cream is fully incorporated and the caramel is smooth, return the pot to low heat. Add the miso, whisking until the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. To make the cake, first grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter (I used a spring-form pan). Cut a round of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan, and grease that, too. Halve and pit your peaches (don’t worry about peeling them), and slice into ½-inch segments. Starting from the centre of your cake pan, begin an
overlapping, radial design, laying the peaches in a spiral shape until they cover the entire base of the pan. Pour half of your miso caramel mixture over the peaches, and set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and cardamom. Set aside. In a second medium bowl, cream together the softened butter and caster sugar for 4-5 minutes, or until light yellow and fluffy. Add one egg and beat into the mixture until fully incorporated, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl; repeat with the two remaining eggs. Next, add your sifted flour mixture and, with a wooden spoon, stir together until the batter is just incorporated.
Pour the batter over the peach mixture and spread to the edges of the pan, being careful not to disturb the peach layer. Set the cake pan on a tray and place in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake layer has risen and is nicely golden.
Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes on a cooling rack. If using a spring-form pan, release and remove the sides; if not, use a knife to gently separate the cake from the sides of the pan. Place a large serving plate over the cake pan and, using the cooling rack, carefully flip the cake onto the plate. Remove the pan and the parchment paper, and return any peach slices that may have dislodged.
To serve, pour over the remaining miso caramel and garnish each slice with a dollop of crème fraîche.
Claire M. Bullen is a professional food and travel writer, a beerhound and an all-around lover of tasty things. Follow her on Twitter at @clairembullen, and pick up a can of Evil Twin Sumo In A Sidecar in store on online.