Cornbread Upside-Down Cake With Nectarines & Blueberries

It seems to me that upside-down cakes are having something of a moment these days. Every time I scroll through my Instagram feed (which is, admittedly, 90% food accounts), I see at least a few pictures of beautifully turned-out upside-down cakes. It makes sense: The summer is definitely the time to make these babies, as fresh fruit is everywhere and in season. Not one to ignore a food trend, I decided I’d hop on the bandwagon and give one a try.

Traditional pineapple upside-down cake (complete with maraschino cherries from a jar) is something I grew up with. My mom still makes it when we have guests over in the summer for a BBQ or pool party. I don’t ever turn down cake (or any dessert) as a personal rule, but I’ve gotta admit, this particular cake has never been my favorite. I don’t think it tastes bad, I just think a lot of traditional versions are too sweet. As much as I love a dessert, I don’t love stuff that’s strictly one-note, and most traditional upside-down cakes are just that due to the cake being made of…well…cake.

Yellow cake – or a variation of it – is the typical ‘filling’ for an upside-down cake. When I decided to make my own version, I knew I needed to avoid using standard yellow cake, so I decided to use cornbread. My inspiration was Southern-style cornbread skillets with honey butter that I’ve had in restaurants and diners about a million times. They’re usually offered as a sweet brunch treat, and they’re often also accompanied by fresh fruit or jam, so I figured I wasn’t too off base with the substitution.

That being said, I’m a lil’ picky about cornbread. I hate dry cornbread, first and foremost, but I also hate bland cornbread, and I do believe that cornbread should be slightly sweet. In fact, as far as I am concerned, Boston Market makes the HOLY FRIGGIN GRAIL of cornbread. Its slightly sweet and perfectly moist and I cannot be convinced that any non-fast-food chain can do a better job. For my recipe, I decided to sub out the standard dairy milk that cornbread usually call for in favor of some vanilla-flavored almond milk, and the result was the PERFECT cross between the traditional yellow cake flavor profile and less-sweet cornbread vibe that I was looking for.

When it came to the fruit, I just picked what I like. I know everyone is WILD for peaches, but I prefer nectarines (they’re just better, ok?!) so I used a few of them along with some perfectly ripe blueberries, and they caramelized perfectly.

The final product is literally one of the best baked treats I have ever had. If brunch potlucks are a thing with your friends (I hope they are). bring this. If dinner parties are more your speed, also bring this. Whether you eat it as a sweet day-time treat or as a late-night dessert, you’ll just be happy you’re eating it at all. Here’s how I made it.

Cornbread Upside-Down Cake With Nectarines & Blueberries

Course Breakfast, brunch, Dessert, dressing
Cuisine American
Keyword baked, baked good, breakfast, cake, dessert, sweet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes


Cornbread Cake Ingredients

  • 1 package pre-made cornbread mix {I use Stonewall Kitchen brand}
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil {depending on what your mix calls for}
  • 1 cup vanilla-flavored almond milk
  • 6 tbsp butter {unsalted}
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar {packed}
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 2-3 nectarines – peeled, cored and sliced {depending on size}

Maple Butter Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter {softened to room temperature}
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 3/4 tbsp good maple syrup


Cornbread Cake Instructions

  1. Prepare the cake mix according to the package instructions, substituting vanilla-flavored milk for the dairy milk called for on the package. Set aside.

  2. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Melt the butter in an 8×8 inch non-stick pan by sticking it in the oven for a few minutes. Check on it frequently to make sure it doesn't burn; it will only take a minute to melt.

  3. When butter has melted. sprinkle the brown sugar on top of the butter and use the back of a spoon to make sure it distributes evenly.

  4. Place the sliced nectarines in a row across the bottom of the pan. Follow with a thick line of blueberries, and repeat the pattern once more so that there are two rows of nectarines and two rows of blueberries, as pictured. Take care to make sure as much of the brown sugar is covered as possible, You wanna avoid lots of holes or gaps.

  5. Pour the cake mixture over the fruit and make sure it's spread evenly. Bake according to package instructions, until cooked completely.

  6. Remove from the oven and immediately turn the pan over on to a serving plate. DON'T LIFT THE PAN UP. Leave the pan right where it is (upside down over your serving dish) for about 5 minutes, just to be sure all the fruit falls from the bottom.

  7. After 5 minutes, lift the pan and set aside. The cake will be very hot and might look a little flatter than the depth of your pan. That's OK; it's not meant to be a super thick cake. Let it rest for another 10 minutes before you cut into it. Serve warm, topped with maple butter.

Maple Butter Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients for the butter in a bowl and microwave for 10-20 seconds, until butter is just melted. Stir to incorporate all the ingredients. The result will be liquidy, like a thick syrup. You can definitely serve it just like this, but I like to let it hang out for about 10 minutes at room temp to allow it to re-butterize. After it rests for a few, it'll be a soft, spreadable butter. Yum.

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