As you probably have noticed, I'm kind of obsessed with peaches. How many desserts can you really come up with that contain them, you might ask? Well, if you're me, a lot. Most of the time, I buy a dozen and eat them plain, but every now and then I like to do a little something special with them. This cake, from the inimitable Barefoot Contessa, combines two of my favorite dessert ideas -- a "tatin", which involves cooking the fruit in a rich caramel sauce until they are juicy and golden and delicious, and a lemony cake recipe which nicely offsets the fruit. Though I love traditional Tarte Tatin and will probably be making it sometime in the next few months, it takes a bit more work and fiddling to make a more complicated caramel and roll out tart dough. This cake, on the other hand, comes together in half an hour and is the perfect way to use up those end-of-season stone fruits -- you could also try it with plums, nectarines, apples, or pears if you are embracing fall produce.
Peach Cake Tatin (adapted from the Barefoot Contessa)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan and arrange the peaches in the dish, cut side down.
Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color, about 360 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Swirl the pan but don't stir. Pour evenly over the peaches.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar with an electric mixer, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined.
Pour the cake batter evenly over the peaches and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then carefully invert the cake onto a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a dollop of crème fraîche.