If you have any berries, nectarines, peaches, or any other slightly tart fruit and are looking for a good recipe to use them in, you should try this one. I found a raspberry buttermilk cake recipe on smittenkitchen.com at the beginning of the summer and have made it 3 times now: once with raspberries, once with raspberries and blueberries, and now with diced nectarines.

This cake is divinely simple to make and a true crowd-pleaser.  It is delicate, moist, and perfectly sweet with a touch of tanginess from the buttermilk and lemon zest. It has been good with all of the fruits I have tried it with so far, and I’m far from done experimenting with what I can do with it!

When I decided to make it this time, I was going to a one-year-old’s birthday party and cupcakes seemed more appropriate than a cake.  I was also still surrounded by a few straggling ripe nectarines that I needed to use up and decided to substitute them for the raspberries called for in the original recipe. This ended up being really good because the nectarines, much like raspberries, are simultaneously sweet and tart. I just peeled and sliced the nectarines into small chunks and then imbedded them in the batter once it was poured into the cupcake tins.

The cupcakes that result from this recipe don’t end up with a “domed” top, but this didn’t really bother me.  The original recipe has you dust the top of the unbaked cake with sugar which results in a crispy, sweet crust. I left the extra sugar out this time, and knowing that the cake would be good enough on its own, I opted not to use a sugary frosting either.  Instead, I chose to top the cupcakes with a simple lemon glaze after they were done baking. The glaze turned out to be WAAAY too lemony (even for me, a girl who loves her lemons) so I included a glaze recipe with fewer lemons and more sugar (this time powdered instead of granulated) below.

Whether you choose to make this into a thin cake like in the original recipe or into cupcakes like I did, you should really give this recipe a try (not to sound like a broken record)!  It is currently my favorite cake! Not that I’m in a rush or anything, but if and when I ever get hitched, I’d even think of having this as my wedding cake.  Not sure how a frosting-less cake would go over with other people, but I think it would be fun and different–kind of like the cherry pie that my friends Lauren and John served at their wedding.  Doh!  Did I just spend a paragraph talking about a hypothetical wedding cake???  Here’s hoping a certain someone doesn’t see this post any time soon… 🙂

Nectarine buttermilk cupcakes
adapted ever so slightly from smittenkitchen, adapted previously from Gourmet

This made 10 cupcakes for me.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups fresh nectarines (2-3), peeled and diced

1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Place cupcake liners in a muffin tin.

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup (146 grams) sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about two minutes, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.

3. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.  Spoon batter into cupcake liners until 2/3 full.  Then imbed nectarine pieces in each cupcake.  I used about 6 or 7 chunks per cupcake.

4. Bake until cupcakes are golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Lemon glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Whisk the sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl until it forms a paste. Spoon and spread a dollup of the glaze over each cupcake once they have cooled.