1. Peach Melba upside-down cake

    An easy elegant dessertIf you fear baking, it is probably because you have never learned how to do it. Chances are the recipes you have tired have been too complicated, or — worse — untested. Baking Basics and Beyond, Second Edition, by Pat Sinclair takes the fear out of baking with clear simple recipes for elegant, tempting desserts. Pat shares her expertise with easy-to-understand directions and tips. Try her delicious cake recipe below and you’ll be convinced and confident. Baking Basics and Beyond is one of the best books on baking basics we’ve seen.
    Peach Melba upside-down cake
    Peach Melba was created to honor Dame Nellie Melba, an Australian opera singer. Now a classic, any dessert containing peaches and raspberries is named Peach Melba. In the summer, juicy ripe peaches and tangy-tart raspberries contrast with the caramelized topping and tender cake. A little whipped cream makes it complete.
    Makes 9 servings
    14 cup (57 g) butter, melted
    23 cup (150 g) firmly packed brown sugar
    2 medium peaches, peeled and sliced
    1 tablespoon (15 mL) lemon juice
    ½ cup (75 g) fresh raspberries
    114 cups (151 g) all-purpose flour
    1 cup (200 g) sugar
    1½ teaspoons (7.5 mL) baking powder
    14 teaspoon (1.25 mL) salt
    ½ cup (114 g) butter, room temperature
    14 cup (59 mL) milk
    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    1 teaspoon (5 mL) almond extract
    Heat oven to 350°F (180°C), with the rack in middle.
    Place melted butter and brown sugar in bottom of 9 x 9-inch (22.5 x 22.5-cm) baking pan.
    Toss peaches with lemon juice and add to pan. Add raspberries and gently poke them into the brown sugar.
    Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer. Add softened butter, milk, eggs, and almond extract and beat on low speed until well mixed. Scrape down sides of bowl.
    Increase mixer speed to medium and beat for two minutes. Pour batter over the fruit.
    Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until deep golden brown and cake springs back when touched lightly. You can test with a toothpick, but only insert it into the cake. Remove the cake from oven and cool five minutes on a wire cooling rack.
    You need to remove cake from pan while still warm so topping will come out easily. Loosen edges of cake with a small metal spatula and cover the cake with a serving plate. Carefully invert the cake onto the serving plate. If any topping remains in the pan, remove it with a spatula and gently it spread over cake.
    Serve warm or at room temperature. Store the cake in refrigerator.
    Baker’s notes
    To peel the peaches, drop them into boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop them into cold water. The skins will slip off easily.
    If you don’t have a large serving plate, invert the cake using the back of a 15 x 10-inch (37.5 x 25-cm) jellyroll pan covered with aluminum foil.
    Secret to Success
    Because the cake is prepared using the quick or one-bowl method, the butter must be very soft. Allow the butter to sit at room temperature about two hours before using.
    Top Tips for Successful Baking from Pat Sinclair:
               Read the entire recipe before beginning.
                Assemble all your ingredients on the counter before starting so you are aware of anything you are missing. 

    Carefully follow the directions and prepare the recipe as written the first time you prepare it. You can try variations the next time.

                  Measure ingredients accurately. Use dry measuring cups for solids and glass measuring cups for liquids.
                 Always use the size pan specified in the recipe. If your pan isn’t the right size, the baking time won’t be accurate.
                Use an oven thermometer and check you oven temperature for accuracy. If possible adjust the thermostat on the oven properly.
                You can also  correct any error but changing your oven setting.
                Take a quick peak about 1 or 2 minutes before the timer goes off. Your oven may bake faster than others.
                Always use high quality ingredients such as pure vanilla extract and unsalted butter. The better your ingredients, the better your results.