I love just about any baked good that involves fruit: crisps, crumbles, cobblers, pies, galettes, you name it. And I have a particular affinity for summer stone fruit and berries. Even though there’s hardly anything more perfect than a ripe, sweet nectarine that drips juices down your chin from the first bite, I still love slicing them up and baking them into something decadent. Especially with a scoop of melting ice cream alongside.
One of my crowd-pleasing favorites (perfect for a barbecue) is this recipe for upside down cobbler, which was inspired by an old recipe by Nancy Silverton which I’ve made plenty of times (everybody’s mother’s berry cobbler). Over the years I updated and changed the recipe into what you see here.
It might sound strange but it really works. You start with a healthy portion of vanilla-infused melted butter, then you spoon in the thick batter and top it with fresh fruit tossed in a little sugar. The result is a crisp-chewy, buttery, fruity, cakey dessert unlike anything else you’ve ever had. But my suggestion is to eat it while it’s still warm (it doesn’t keep well). I kind of doubt you’ll have a problem doing that.
Swap out the nectarines for mixed berries or other stone fruit like apricots, cherries, or plums, or just a mixture of any fruit.
A note on nectarines and peaches:
I generally go for nectarines because you don’t have to peel them. But peaches are also swoon-worthy. To skin them, cut an X into the bottom them pop them into a big pot of boiling water for a minute or two. Remove them with a slotted spoon and when they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins.
Stone fruit, in particular peaches and nectarines, are known as either “freestone” or “clingstone.” What that means is that when you cut a nectarine in half, if the flesh falls easily from the stone, it’s a freestone. If instead, it clings to the stone for dear life, then, well, you’ve got yourself a clingstone. You can pretty much tell ahead of time because varieties that ripen early in the season tend to be clingstone, and those that ripen later in the season tend to be freestone.
Always choose fragrant fruits during the summer season that yield slightly to pressure and aren’t covered in blemishes; avoid hard-as-rock fruits or very bruised fruits (extra-ripe fruits make great jam though!).
Now…let’s make some cobbler!
Upside-Down Nectarine Cobbler
- 1/2 vanilla bean pod
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter plus 4 tablespoons, melted
- 6 ripe yellow or white nectarines (or peeled peaches), pitted and sliced (about 2 1/4 lbs total)
- 3/4 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 3/4 cups buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Using a small paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise then, using the back of the knife, scrape out the seeds. Add the pod and seeds to a saucepan along with the 1/2 cup butter. Over medium heat, melt the butter, stirring until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 9×13-inch baking dish, tilting the pan to distribute the butter in an even layer. Remove and discard the pod. Set the dish aside.
- In a bowl, toss together the nectarine slices with 3 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, stir together the 4 tablespoons melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until it comes together. Don’t overmix!
- Spoon the cobbler batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading it as evenly as you can but working quickly. Top with the fruit, distributing it in an even layer over the cobbler batter. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.
- Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the cobbler is golden brown, about 1 hour. Let rest about 5 minutes. Serve the cobbler warm with big scoops of vanilla ice cream.