On your mark, get set, bake!

Ben and I have been watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. Imagine a Food Network baking competition but all the contestants are fairly confident, relaxed, and nice to each other. The event takes place outside in a tent, the contestants have all week to practice their bakes beforehand, and the judges are critical but also obviously really kind. There’s also plenty of time to finish each task. We are a little bit addicted.

Maybe it was watching all that baking, but I decided last Thursday, on a complete whim, to register for the 12 South Farmer’s Market Peach Festival Baking Contest. I wrote about a peach upside-down cake recipe that I would make, because I have a vague recipe I wrote for an apple upside-down cake from my summer in Indiana. I figured I wouldn’t be chosen.

I adapted the recipe that night, and it came out terribly. I thought, Good thing I won’t be chosen for this thing.

BUT I woke up on Saturday to an email inviting me to compete, and because of course I was going to do it, I went to the store and stocked up on butter, flour, and cinnamon. And more peaches than I’ve ever bought at one time.

Real footage of the peach cake testing phase.

Over the weekend, I made two more cakes, tweaking my recipe, and they started to improve. Ben was the official taste-tester and we took cakes to our family and to work. (Because we didn’t need literally to consume 3 cakes in as many days.)

On Tuesday, I went as slowly as possible, slicing the peaches as carefully as I could, trying not to be too impatient. Let me tell you, I don’t know how baking show contestants do it. This wasn’t a thing at all and I was SO NERVOUS.

Again, real footage of me waiting and checking the cake.

It turned out like this:


Gorgeous, huh? I was pretty proud. And it was delicious. I was starting to think perhaps I could win. I’d give that thing a prize.


I dropped it off (there it is by that not-an-amateur-cake-probably-cheating-one) and we walked around the Farmer’s Market. We tried peach salsa and peach popsicles and I tried not to eye the judges as they ate.

Turns out—I didn’t place. There were 18 invited contestants, 13 who actually came to the market, and 3 recognized. I did win a brand-new, all my own peach cake recipe, though—and a greater knowledge of how to tweak and build a recipe. It was so fun, and I would certainly do it again. The coolest part was that one of the judges was a pretty well-known and admired chef in Nashville—and he’s tasted my recipe!

Next year, Peach Festival, next year…

Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it out yourself!

Gooey Peach Upside-Down Cake

For peach preserve mixture:

¼ cup + 1 T peach preserves
scant ¼ cup water

For fruit topping:

2-3 peaches
¼ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
scant ½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
pinch salt

For cake:

1 ⅔ cup flour
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon + some for sprinkling at end
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 T vanilla
½ cup milk, room temperature
¼ cup peach preserve mixture

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare peach preserve mixture: In a small saucepan, combine peach preserves with a scant ¼ cup water. Whisk together, and heat over medium heat until bubbling. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes, then take off heat and let cool.
  3. Prepare fruit: Slice 2-3 peaches into ½-¾ inch slices. Remove peel if desired (but ideally, keep for color). Set aside.
  4. Prepare topping: Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt with a fork until well combined with no lumps. Pour melted butter into bottom of a generously greased 8-inch cake pan (bottom and sides) and sprinkle sugar mixture, distributed evenly, on top. Place peach slices into the pan in concentric circles. Set aside.
  5. Prepare dry ingredients: Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Set aside.
  6. In a larger bowl, whisk brown sugar and white sugar together with melted butter. Mixture will be grainy at this point.
  7. Prepare liquid ingredients: Pour ¼ cup of the peach preserve mixture from the saucepan into a liquid measuring cup. In a separate cup or bowl, add milk, vanilla, and egg. Add peach preserves; whisk to combine.
  8. Pour wet ingredients into butter and sugar mixture. Whisk to combine.
  9. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Stir to combine. Add a final sprinkle (no more than a ¼ tsp) of cinnamon onto batter; stir to combine. Cake batter will be fairly thick.
  10. Pour batter over peaches in cake pan; smooth the top.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes uncovered. At 20 minutes, cover loosely with foil. Bake for 28 more minutes. When it comes out of the oven, immediately run a small knife around gently around the edges.
  12. After 10-15 minutes cooling, invert cake pan onto a serving plate. Tap the bottom of the cake pan gently. Let the cake fall out on its own.

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