A deliciously summery Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake with a tender gluten free vanilla sponge, peaches and raspberries. Wheat free. Optional dairy free.
Originally published 8th September 2015… Recipe updated and reposted 20th June 2023
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Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake – A summer sponge delight
Who doesn’t love an upside-down cake? They’re quick and easy and have as many variations as there are fruits… Although if that doesn’t offer enough choice, simply multiply the options by combining them together. And that, lovely readers, is exactly what my gluten free Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake does. This is a happy marriage of sweet yellow peach and tangy red raspberry. The vanilla sponge is moist, delicately sticky with syrup and lightly dense but still tender… yet is not over-sweet.
It’s a summer sponge delight that is absolutely delicious served warm as a dessert with cream or custard. But it’s equally at home eaten served cold with morning coffee or at the tea time table. And because this one’s gluten free and wheat free, it’s safe for Coeliacs (Celiacs) too.
What is Peach Melba?
For anyone not familiar with the culinary delight of Peach Melba, it is (in its pure form) a very simple dessert which combines peaches, raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. It’s not a new pudding. Indeed it was first created in London back in 1892 (by the French chef August Escoffier) to honour the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba.
Nonetheless, the combination of flavours remains classic. And this is what has inspired my gluten free Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake.
What is an Upside-Down Cake?
An upside-down cake is exactly what is says… A cake baked with fruit at the bottom of the pan… flipped over when removed from the oven and served ‘upside down’ so the fruit is on the top. The arrangement and variation of the fruit ensure that each and every upside-down cake is unique and always beautiful.
The fruit (pretty much anything you love) is set into a light butter-sugar syrup. When baked and turned out, this offers delicately sticky caramelised edges, an invitingly glinting top and a sweet moistness that permeates the sponge. Utterly delicious.
Actually, we have a number of upside down cakes here at Gluten Free Alchemist. So if peach and raspberry aren’t your thing, you could try:
- Cherry Upside Down Cake(s)
- Plum Upside Down Cake with Blueberries
- Rhubarb Upside Down Cake with a Strawberry Almond Sponge
- Pear Upside Down Cake with a Mocha Sponge
Or we even have…
Peach or nectarine… You choose
As a child, we always had peaches… beautifully pink and inviting. But while the flesh tasted wonderful with its sweet, soft, juiciness, I never liked their tougher furry skin which fluffed intrusively on my tongue.
Nectarines, on the other hand, offer the same deliciousness of texture and flavour, but with smooth skins. They seem to be nature’s clever answer… They are essentially de-fuzzed peaches… delightfully succulent with none of the frizzy irritation.
Ultimately it’s up to you… Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake is equally delicious whether made with peaches or nectarines. And to be honest, the cooking process softens the peach skins anyway… I’m just a little quirky in my hang-ups.
Ingredients to make a gluten free Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake
So what exactly do you need to make a gluten free Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake? And what alternatives might you use?
For the fruit ‘base’ and syrup
- The fruit – peaches or nectarines and raspberries (for a classic peach melba flavour).
- Unsalted butter or a dairy free alternative. You can even sub with coconut oil if you prefer.
- Soft light brown sugar (or coconut sugar if you want something less refined).
For the sponge batter
- Plain gluten free flour – This needs to be a blend of gluten free flours to provide the appropriate structure and texture to the sponge. I use my own gluten free white flour Blend A (recipe found at the bottom of my page ‘What is Gluten Free Flour?’). However, any other well-balanced commercial gluten free plain blend will also work well.
- Ground almonds offer structure, moistness and a subtle nutty texture to the sponge.
- Baking Powder for rise. Make sure the brand is gluten free by checking the ingredients label.
- Xanthan Gum for binding. Or use psyllium husk (¾ tsp in place of the ½ tsp xanthan gum). If your flour blend already contains xanthan gum or an alternative, leave this ingredient out.
- A pinch of salt to enhance all the flavours.
- Sugar – Caster sugar (or in America superfine sugar or granulated sugar) works best as it will maintain a lighter colour for the sponge. I personally use the slightly less refined golden caster sugar when making upside-down cake.
- Butter or a block dairy free alternative such as Flora Plant B+tter or Stork vegan blocks in the UK.
- Eggs – are important to both the structure and rise of the sponge. I use UK Large size eggs. But as eggs are not sized equally around the world, it is worth checking how yours compare. Use my Egg Size and Weight International Comparison Guide to help.
- Vanilla extract for flavour.
- Soured cream offers tenderness and richness to the sponge. It can be switched for yoghurt, but this should be of the full-fat variety (whether dairy or dairy free).
Can I make this Peach Melba Cake dairy free as well as gluten free?
Yes of course. To make a dairy free, gluten free Peach Melba Cake, you need to make two simple switches… Use a comparable dairy free alternative to butter (in the UK, Flora Plant B+tter or Stork vegan blocks are good options). And use a full-fat dairy free yoghurt in place of the soured cream.
How to serve this cake
As mentioned above, Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake can be eaten both fresh and warm or cold. It is perfect as a straight cake… OR as a delicious dessert. If serving as a dessert, I recommend adding a drizzle of fresh cream, custard or vanilla ice cream for extra opulence.
How to store the cake and any leftovers
Because this Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake is perfectly moistened with both ground almonds and soured cream, it lasts a few days (about 4 to 5) without any dryness creeping in. However, because it is topped with fresh fruit, it needs storing in a way that ensures the fruit lasts as long without spoiling.
For this reason, I recommend storing it in the fridge in an airtight container/cake box. However, it is best removed about an hour before serving, to bring it back to room temperature for softness.
Can I freeze Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake?
Yes. Peach Melba Cake is good for freezing. I recommend freezing either as a whole cake when it is fresh and as soon as it has cooled. Or if freezing leftovers, store the remaining ‘slab’ or as cut portions. ALWAYS wrap the cake well or freeze it in an airtight container to prevent premature drying in the cold.
Ready to make a gluten free Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake?
You’ll find the recipe for my gluten free Peach Melba Upside-Down Cake just below (scroll an extra inch or two). I hope you enjoy it. If there’s anything that doesn’t make sense or you have additional questions, just ask! You can do this by leaving a comment at the bottom, messaging me through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) or by email.
Do come back and tell me if you made it. A positive star rating is always welcome (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️).
For loads more baking and gluten free food inspiration, why not check out our on-line Gluten Free Recipe ‘Book’ Index. Whether sweet or savoury, we have over 500 free recipes just waiting to be explored.
All shared with my love
Peach Melba Upside Down Cake
- 9 inch/23 cm round spring-form cake tin (min 3 inch deep)
- sharp vegetable knife
- serving plate
- 2 peaches or nectarines (de-stoned and sliced into thin segments)
- 150 g fresh raspberries
- 40 g unsalted butter or dairy free alternative
- 50 g soft brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
- 220 g gluten free plain flour blend eg GFA Blend A (see NOTES), but an alternative flour blend will work fine.
- 80 g ground almonds (blanched almond meal)
- 2 tsp baking powder (gluten free)
- ½ tsp xanthan gum (leave out if flour blend has xanthan pre-added)
- pinch fine sea salt
- 120 g unsalted butter (or dairy free alternative) – softened
- 285 g caster sugar (golden or white)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs (lightly beaten) room temperature – UK large (Canadian ‘Extra Large’; Australian ‘Jumbo’; and US ‘Extra or Very Large’)
- 200 g soured cream or full fat yoghurt (or dairy free alternative)
- Base-line a deep-sided 23 cm/9 inch cake tin with baking paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 Fan/180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- De-stone and slice the peaches/nectarines into thin segments.
- Dot the 40g butter across the surface of the baking paper in the base of the baking tin and sprinkle the brown sugar on top.
- Place in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, lightly stirring together about halfway through to blend.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool a little (use the time to start making the sponge batter). Leave the oven on.
- Arrange the fruit in the base of the tin on top of the butter-sugar mix. Set aside.
- Weigh and mix together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, xanthan gum and salt, making sure any lumps are completely broken down (TIP: Weigh into a large airtight container and shake vigorously). Set aside.
- In a large bowl, cream together the additional butter and caster sugar with an electric whisk until light, pale and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract and then the egg a little at a time and continue to beat until smooth and well-blended.
- Finally add and fold through the flour mix alternately with the sour cream (or yoghurt if using) about a third at a time, until just combined, being careful not to over-mix.
- Transfer the batter into the cake tin over the fruit and smooth the top as evenly as possible.
- Bake for about 45 to 55 minutes or until the cake is golden and a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.
- Gently peel off the baking paper, ensuring the fruit remains in place.
- Eat warm or cold on its own, or with cream, custard or ice cream.
- Store in the fridge, bringing it back to room temperature before serving for full softness.
© 2019-2023 Kate Dowse All Rights Reserved – Do not copy or re-publish this recipe or any part of this recipe on any other blog, on social media or in a publication without the express permission of Gluten Free Alchemist