Contrary to popular opinion, homeschool families don’t just fly by the seat of our pants. Most of us actually go through the same drama that our counterparts who have traditionally-schooled children do. Shocking, I know. Currently, I’m knee-deep in our next year’s curricula. I’m not even done purchasing all of it, either. Every year I go through the same internal struggle, “Just buy all of it brand new- screw looking for used books and saving money!” And then the bill gets tallied. Never mind. Used is cool, I guess. Along with buying curriculum and school supplies, figuring out breakfasts that won’t cause a hectic start to our day is a must. This Nectarine-Almond Coffee Cake has been on heavy rotation in my house for years.
Part of the reason why this cake is so popular for me is because it’s easy to get into the oven. The prep for it can take place over a couple of days, if necessary, and- although the baking portion is lengthy- it’s fast. Ultimately, it is a schoolday-friendly breakfast. The nuts in this recipe are interchangeable, or may be omitted altogether- as is the fruit. But, since stone fruits are in season right now, I’m taking advantage.
What’s the diff?
The difference between peaches and nectarine is fuzz. Peaches have fuzzy exteriors, nectarines don’t. That’s truly is the only difference. That means you can absolutely switch the nectarine in this recipe for peaches, if you prefer. Both fruits are stone fruits with rough, bumpy pits (or stones) found in their centers. The type of stone fruit you choose will make or break your sanity when using this recipe. Choose FREEstone nectarines for this recipe, please.
One thing I regret doing is trusting too much. The nectarines I picked up on my last trip to the grocery store screamed “CLINGSTONE”. For some odd reason, produce departments don’t let you know the variety of nectarine you’re buying. They just say “nectarine”. I think I should start a movement to have the fruits in every produce section labeled by variety. This recipe is, after all, something to help alleviate stress- not cause it. So, the frustration came with selecting these fruits that I just knew were clingstone, but when I asked the produce guy he said they were freestone. He was wrong, my gut was right. When in doubt, ask the produce employee to cut one open. If the flesh comes away from the pit easily- it’s a freestone. Buy four of them. If not, put it back and try again.
I failed to do that. It is what it is and as the name suggests, I was battling against a fruit that has a pit that’s a challenge to remove. I’ll show you why that’s bad later. You won’t make this mistake though, so to prep these nectarines, you’ll need a sharp paring knife. *Unlike what you see, don’t do this in your hand. This is a prime example of, “Do as I say, not as I do.” You’ll see why later*
Prep the Nectarines
Use your knife to cut thin (about a quarter of an inch thick) slices from the nectarine. With a FREEstone this is easy to do because you can cut the fruit in half and pull it away from the pit. This one, on the other hand, well…it’s clingy. These clingstones are better for snacking on or eating whole.
Once your nectarines are sliced and in a mixing bowl, add brown sugar and a pinch of salt.
Add lemon juice to balance the flavor of the sweet fruits and sugar and use a rubber spatula to coat the nectarines in the mixture. Set this bowl to the side while you prepare the base of your coffee cake.
Make the Wet Batter
Any tender cake consists of at least two steps. More so a quick bread than a cake, this one begins with a wet batter that’s added to a dry mix. In a mixing bowl whisk the eggs, melted butter, and almond extract together until very smooth.
Add the sour cream to the bowl and whisk to incorporate it into the other ingredients.
Prepare the Dry Mix
The final part of the coffee cake base is a dry mix. In a larger bowl (since this is where the final mix will happen): combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, and salt together. Stir these together with your hand or a spoon (or with a dry whisk). This dry mix can be made a couple of days in advance so you can have it on hand and ready to go when you’re ready to make.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix.
Use a rubber spatula to mix the two together just until combined and no pockets of flour are visible. Mixing the least amount possible ensures you won’t end up with a tough cake.
Pour the cake batter into a lightly greased 9″x13″ baking dish. Use the spatula to smooth it out into an even layer. The batter will be thick- almost the consistency of a drop-biscuit dough. This is perfect because we’re about to top it with juice. Oh! Remember when I said I’d show you why clingstone fruits and cutting them in your hand don’t jive? Check out the thumb on my left hand. Lesson learned, kiddos? Good.
Top the Batter
Arrange the slices of nectarines on top of the cake batter. You can be as fancy (or not) as you want. The reality is it’s going to get covered with almonds and a glaze and if your family is anything like mine, they won’t notice your effort anyway. Be sure to pour any juice that remains in the bowl over your nectarines!
Top the nectarine layer with your sliced almonds. Again, you can substitute any other nut for the almonds, just be sure they’re crushed or chopped, and not whole. If you choose a different nut, use vanilla extract instead of almond throughout the recipe- almond just compliments nectarines and peaches better, in my opinion.
Place the pan into your preheated oven and bake for fifty-five minutes to an hour, or until a knife (or toothpick) inserted into the very center comes out clean.
Prepare the Glaze
While your cake is baking, prepare the almond glaze in a small mixing bowl. Put your powdered sugar into the bowl- no need to sift, since we’re whisking this.
Add the almond extract and whole milk and whisk until smooth. This is another part of the recipe that can be made a day or two in advance.
In fact, when I plan to make this for breakfast, I prepare the fruit, the wet mix, the dry mix, and the glaze the night before. The morning of, right after I wake up, I go downstairs and preheat the oven (and start coffee, duh!). While the oven is preheating, I mix everything together once more and then mix together the cake batter. Then, I layer the nectarines over the cake batter and by this time the oven is hot and ready to bake. I pop the pan into the oven and head upstairs to shower and get dressed. By the time I’m done, the cake is ready to come out of the oven.
I set it out on the countertop to cool while I pull out plates and forks. While the kids are pouring juice and getting napkins I’m putting the final touches on the cake.
Drizzle the Glaze (or Not)
Once the cake has cooled for five or ten minutes, drizzle the almond glaze over the top. If you prefer a less sweet cake, just add a little (or omit it completely).
Serve and Enjoy
Spoon a heaping portion onto your plates and enjoy. Our favorite way to serve this is with a side of yogurt and fresh fruit for the kiddos- coffee for me and the Soldier. No matter what you serve it with, or without, it’s going to be a welcome start to your school day.
Pin this recipe for those busy workday mornings, then let me know how you’re feeling about the upcoming school year in the comments.
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Nectarine-Almond Coffee Cake
- 4 ripe but firm, nectarines, thinly sliced
- 6 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- pinch of kosher salt
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 2 1/2 tsp almond extract divided
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp whole milk
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 9"x12"x3" cake pan (or baking dish) with baking spray, or butter and flour, to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the nectarines, brown sugar, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat the fruit well, then set aside.
- In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, melted butter, and 2 tsp of the almond extract together until very smooth. Add the sour cream to the bowl and whisk to incorporate it into the other ingredients.
- In a separate, larger bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, and the salt.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix. Stir this mixture together just until no pockets of flour are visible. Mixing the least amount possible ensures you won't end up with a tough cake.
- Pour the cake batter into your baking dish. Use a rubber spatula to spread it out into an even layer. Arrange the slices of nectarines on top of the cake batter, pour any juice over the nectarines in the dish. Top the nectarines with the almonds. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a knife (or toothpick) inserted into the very center comes out clean.
- While your cake is baking, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and the remaining almond extract until smooth.
- Once the cake has finished baking, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes. After it has cooled, drizzle the almond glaze over the top. If you prefer a less sweet cake, just pour a little of the glaze (or omit it completely).
- To serve, simply spoon a heaping portion onto plates and enjoy!
- The dry mix can be made a couple of days in advance so you have it one hand and ready to go when you're ready to make. Just seal it in an airtight storage bag and keep in the pantry until ready to use.
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