It's a shame that this Baking with Julia recipe for what should've been a Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake was chosen for this month's TWD bake rather than last August's as it was around that time that our supermarkets had an abundance of all kinds of stone fruits-- apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, pluots, cherries--you name it, we had it! The nectarines in particular were really gorgeous; they were large, unbruised, and perfectly ripe which I'm certain would've been amazing on this cake but alas, stone fruit season is no more here in our neck of the woods. All that remained in the shelves for me to use were four pathetic-looking white peaches that thankfully were somewhat sweet and had their flesh intact but their paleness lent a rather dull, less-appealing color to the caramelized topping of this upside-down cake. Using nectarines or even yellow peaches would've definitely contributed a much more vibrant and appetizing color.
It's the first time I ever tried an upside-down cake with chiffon cake as the base and I must say that I really love it! The cake turned out incredibly soft and moist and because of the lack of butter, it stays that way even after a lengthy stay in the fridge. It also did a fantastic job soaking all of the caramel-ly juices without getting soggy and flat--my kind of upside-down cake! I also think that using a chiffon cake was a wise choice for this particular recipe because of the addition of the streusel layer that was sprinkled in between the batter. A normal occurrence with butter cakes is that it would end up sinking to the bottom of the pan as the butter melts during the bake but with chiffon batter, the streusel remains suspended because of the lack of fat and extra lift from the eggs. Flavor-wise, I think the streusel worked well with the cake and added a nice crunch to each bite but I think the cake would've still been excellent without it. I wasn't able to eat this with the suggested whipped cream or ice cream but it's obviously an excellent pairing and would certainly help mellow the sweetness of the topping. Even though I found the amount of brown sugar used for the topping just right, I did experience a few bites that had overly sweet pockets of syrup in them which would've been balanced by the whipped cream.
If you want to make this very delicious cake do check our hosts' blogs -- Marlise of The Double Trouble Kitchen and Susan of The Little French Bakery -- for the recipe!