Watching geese* fly south for the winter, feeling temperatures decline, orange monarch butterflies fluttering by, and biting into a tasteless nectarine is Mother Nature announcing Fall’s arrival. Who knew the nectarines from the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share would be one of this summer’s last soulful sweet?
Remember when fruit was seasonal? Strawberries were only sold in the spring. From mid to late summer, the best nectarines and peaches were sold by roadside stands. The rest of the year summer fruit could not be found. Globalization and technology have made all types of fruit available year-round. Social media sites that connect friends around the world, ordering groceries online and other modern conveniences have made life simply delightful. However, technology making summer fruit available year-round isn’t always successful. Don’t be fooled into thinking those winter strawberries are superbly sweet. They’re not quite as sweet as the tiny strawberries seen in the spring. Peaches, nectarines, plum, and cantaloupe are some of the worst fruit to purchase during the winter. That brown bag trick of ripping green fruit will soften their flesh. It’s still sugarless.
These tasteless, out-of-season fruits are expensive. We’re paying for the fruit to have a first-class seat on a cargo plane flying from a country below the equator or from sunny California. Meanwhile, fruit picked locally and in-season are sweeter and cheaper. It’s not about the sugar content, it’s about summer fruit has more flavor.
These nectarines are one of the last flavorful fruit that bares Summer’s soul. This time, a cake was made to savor their sweetness. Honestly, the last of summer’s bounty is best served simply fresh, with a napkin to catch all the juices. However, a new dessert idea had to be tried. The only pies I like are pumpkin, sweet potato and apple pie. Tarts are simply good. Fruit pies are not of a personal taste. It’s the slippery texture of cooked fruit that is disliked. Flaky, doughy piecrusts are better than the sugary syrup of fruit pies. The Nectarine Pecan Buckle cake is like a pie and cake in one dessert recipe. The batter is a golden taste of nutty pecans and rich brown sugar. The nectarines are still slippery sweet. It’s a cake closer to my personal taste.
This year, fall officially starts September 22. After receiving the nectarines, the next CSA share included ten pounds of Macoun apples. What am I to do with red apples (I would love to hear your ideas.? Just like summer, those nectarines will be missed.
*This year, The U.S. Agriculture Department inhumanely slaughtered 400 geese in Park Slope, Brooklyn citing reasons for public safety. Read more…
Nectarine Pecan Buckle Cake
1/2 cup raw pecans (about 2-1/2 ounces)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of the cake
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/4 lb. nectarines; halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1. Preheat to 350°F. Butter and line the bottom of a spring-form pan with parchment paper.
2. Place pecans in a food processor and finely ground. Whisk ground pecans with flour, baking powder, and salt. Place aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars in large bowl until fluffy (about five minutes).
4. Incorporate the eggs individually, beating the butter mixture well after each addition. Afterward, add the vanilla extract.
5. Add the flour into the butter mixture until it is mixed in thoroughly, but don’t over beat the batter.
6. Spoon batter to the buttered spring-form pan.
7. Gently place nectarine slices, skin side up, into the batter. Form a spoke pattern around outer rim and center of a cake, placing close together. Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar over the cake batter and nectarines.
8. Place cake in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. Let cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Release and remove the sides of the cake pan. Invert cake onto a platter; remove parchment paper and the cake pan’s bottom. Place a wire rack (or another plate) on top of the cake. Using both hands, hold both the platter and the wire rack firmly together and quickly invert the cake, top side up.
10. Cool cake completely. Cut into wedges.
Recipe adapted from Carolyn Beth Weil’s Almond-Plum Buckle Cake recipe at Epicurious.com.