nectarine golden cake

nectrarine cake

Given the choice, I would pick a simple, everyday cake without frosting, over the fancy, tiered, frosted creation. I know that sounds practically sacrilegious – to prefer cake without frosting. But I just do. Most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong – a well-made frosting is a thing of beauty. But I really have to be in the mood for it. Whereas a regular every-day cake is something I could have, well, every day. It requires no fancy occasion, no long waiting between crumb-layer of frosting and its second one. You simply mix, bake, cool and eat. This four step process appeals to me because it gets me that much faster to cake consumption – which is the goal here. Such cakes are a salve to my busy days, a slice of comfort on my plate.

nectrarine cake

This is a great, every-day cake. The kind you can make on a whim, when you have an unexpected guest, or when you are absolutely keen on having home-made dessert, but are feeling slightly lazy in the baking department. Except, the cake is sort of more impressive than the sum of its parts (my favorite trick!) as it’s got this fancy fruit thing going on – dressed up with generous chunks of nectarines, or, depending on your preference and farmers market offerings – peaches. Of course, you could get all Rosh Hashana crazy creative, and put some apples in it instead. Which makes me think – this could be really good drizzled with honey. Right?

And here’s what happens. These glorious chunks are too heavy for the batter when you place the slices on top of it, and so while the cake is baking, the slices sink deeper and deeper into the batter. Sounds sexy, right? The fruit just can’t help itself, the pull is far too much.

nectrarine cakenectrarine cake

When you take your cake out, it’s like a vanishing act, you wonder, what could have possibly happened to that fruit you so carefully arranged? But you patiently let the cake cool before you serve yourself a generous slice (that’s before your guests arrive, because let’s face it, you cannot possibly be patient around a cake like this). It’s at precisely this point that you discover that this amazing fruit went into hiding – and you see its beautiful slices inside. It really is a stunner of a piece, you will note to yourself.

nectrarine cake

Of course, what kind of a person would I be if I didn’t do a quick confessional here. The first version of this cake was a fail. An EPIC FAIL. Despite being picture-perfect and smelling oh-so-seductively, it tasted like a box of baking soda. Imagine licking some baking soda off a spoon – disgusting, right? Well, it was.

nectrarine cake

How did this come to pass? How did such a lovely, easy, moist cake come to be inedible? Well, simple – instead of baking powder, I had put in baking soda (truly a d’oh moment in Sassy Radish kitchen) – and a generous amount as such. I should have caught on while measuring out my ingredients – who uses two whole teaspoons of baking soda on one little cake? Quite mad at myself for being so unattentive, I made this cake the very next day, this time being careful to use the proper ingredients – and the results were truly noteworthy. The cake proved to be everything I imagined it would be. It was the reason I eschewed frosting in favor of something like this.

nectrarine cake

And you see, if you read the directions carefully and put baking powder instead of a baking soda, your first bite, that moist, light, laced with vanilla and almond will not taste even remotely like toothpaste and you will not even think of this thing called frosting. Not even for a moment. You might think of me and of baking soda – and hopefully it’ll make you smile.

Nectarine Golden Cake
Adapted from Gourmet, September 2009

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 nectarines, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg


1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in extracts. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined.
4. Spread batter evenly in pan, then scatter nectarines over top. Stir together nutmeg and remaining 1/2 Tbsp sugar and sprinkle over top. Bake until cake is golden-brown and top is firm but tender when lightly touched (cake will rise over fruit), 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove side of pan and cool to warm.

Serves 8.


  • Eralda (The Split Pea)

    I love simple, no frost cakes as well. Especially ones with delicious fruit in them. The baking soda mix up has happened to me as well, on several occasions.
    The cake looks to die for. I love the use of almond flavor here, too.

  • Amanda

    Olga, I totally agree with you! All the fuss and mess of a decorated cake makes me want to pull my hair out. I prefer simple butter cakes with pockets of fruit. I saw this one in the latest issue of Gourmet and wanted to try it immediately. Maybe I will use pears or apples instead? Make it fall appropriate :)

  • Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets

    Aw I’m sorry you didn’t get to enjoy it. That sounds totally like something I would do, hehe. The nectarines look truly gorgeous though, and I totally agree that fancy frosted cakes are best left an occasional treat.

  • Anali

    Such a beautiful cake! I’m so with you on the love of a simple cake. This summer it’s been all about the single layer unfrosted cakes. Especially the Raspberry Buttermilk Cake. What a cake dream!

  • tara

    The Raspberry Buttermilk Cake is legendary – seriously, it was one of my most-requested desserts to take to family events this summer. I’m thinking this nectarine one will give it a good run for the title, though. It’s gorgeous.
    An everyday cake is my favourite sort.

  • Kim (Edible/Usable)

    I finally got around to making this cake last night. It’s a great recipe! I didn’t have any almond extract, so I chopped up about a 1/2 cup of almonds and added them to the top before adding the peaches. Really great combination.

  • The Leftoverist

    Good for you–making it again the next day! I don’t know what time of day you were baking, but I find that if I bake at night, I am quite likely to make the same mistake.
    And I’m with you–frosting is overrated.

  • Barbara

    I had a bowl of nectarines out for decoration amid some mums and dahlias this week. Now I know what to do with those nectarines! This looks delcious.

  • Shannon

    this looks so good. I have to try this, and I can tell you took care in preparing it. Thanks so much for posting :). I actually work with Del Monte and we have these citrus bowls and superfruit out that compliment different types of flavor combinations. Our fruit comes pre-peeled, ready to use and is affordable! If you visit our website, there are recipes you can browse (like peach-cranberry crips) and even pick up some coupons while you’re there :). Hope you enjoy!

  • Jason Sandeman

    Thank you for this cake. I thing that while you have no frosting, it would be a shame to cover up the nectarines while they are at their peak. A nice simple shot of ice cream would do me. :)

  • K

    I was admiring this cake in that old A-to-Z issue of Gourmet this very morning! Coming across it here just strengthens my resolve to make it come nectarine season — thanks for adding your endorsement!

  • Joylene Eves

    Was wondering if it would be possible to freeze this cake for later? Would like to make up a few as I am overrun with nectarines and they will not last.

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