Recipes for using up all those peaches, plums and late-summer berries

A selection of stone fruit on stands and a tabletop: plums, pluots, nectarines, apricots, peaches
Upside-down cake, crisps and a foolproof jam are best for using up all of summer’s stone fruit before it ends.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)

I’ve been spending the past week in the Bay Area, and last Saturday I finally got the chance to go to Berkeley’s downtown farmers market. It was fun to see new (for me) vendors selling great bread, flowers and, best of all, all the stone fruit that I can and can’t get even in L.A. My partner and I bought one piece of basically every peach, plum or nectarine we came across. We took them home to do a taste test and found a Zee Lady peach we bought from the Peach Jamboree farm was by far the best. It was, as the sign exclaimed, “zingy!” with a pleasant tartness and very juicy.

Though we tried our best to eat all the stone fruit we bought fresh, we simply had too much, so I started scheming different ways to use it all up before it went bad. I, of course, made a batch of jam, using my recipe for Master Stone Fruit Jam. The balance of sugar and acidity in the jam matched that of the perfect late-summer peaches and nectarines in the mix.

I also set some aside to make my Yeasted Breakfast Cake, a simple tender cake that is my ideal breakfast with a cup of coffee. You make the dough the night before, let it rise in the pan overnight, then bake it off. The fruit on top sinks and slumps among rising tides of dough that bakes up golden brown and crunchy from a hefty coating of turbinado sugar on the edge.

The rest of the fruit got cut into wedges and placed in the freezer for desserts later on. The extra plums I have will mingle with brown sugar and butter to top a glistening Plum Upside-Down Cake. I can also eat that for breakfast any day but will try to save it for dessert one cool night in the Bay.

And with the extra blackberries I bought too, I’ll make this Peach and Blackberry Crisp. Baking fruit under a cover of crumbs is the quickest way to happiness in summer time. I love to scoop out a spoonful while it’s still molten as lava and top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, spooning each together manically to capture that fleeting feeling of eating hot fruit and cold cream at one time. Like all the stone fruit I bought too much of at the market, it’s an experience that’s best enjoyed as quickly and rapturously as possible.


Plum Upside-Down Cake

Nectarines or peaches work just as well as plums here, and with any of these, the fruit yields a juicy glaze that soaks into the cake when it’s inverted after cooking. The cake itself, a simple batter enriched with browned butter and vanilla bean, is a little softer and sweeter than a shortcake
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes.

Plum Upside-Down Cake.
(Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times)

Master Stone Fruit Jam

This recipe makes jam that is 69% fruit, 23% sugar and 8% lemon juice. If you want a sweeter jam, you can add more sugar, but try not to use less than stated here to ensure you properly preserve the fruit in enough sugar. Leave the skins on the fruit for added color, texture and flavor, but if you don’t like them, simply peel the fruit before pitting and chopping.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 hours 30 minutes.

A jelly jar filled with peach jam with vanilla.
(Cody Long / Los Angeles Times)

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Yeasted Breakfast Cake With Peaches and Plums

This recipe is meant to be a showcase for the best stone fruit of summer, but it can also be used as a blank canvas for whatever fruit you have lying around that’s about to go bad. If you’re the type who wakes up early and doesn’t eat breakfast until later in the morning, make this cake all in one go on the morning you plan to serve it.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 2 hours 40 minutes, largely unattended.

A round yeasted cake topped with fruit, sliced into eight wedges on a plate
(Ben Mims / Los Angeles Times)

Peach and Blackberry Crisp

The simplicity of this crisp allows for plenty of improvisation. You can use all sorts of fruits, either by themselves or in combination. At this time of year, peaches or nectarines along with raspberries or blackberries are best. In the spring, use the same topping with strawberries and rhubarb. And in the fall and winter, apples or pears are the ticket.
Get the recipe.
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minute.

A pan of Peach and blackberry crisp, with a spoon resting in a scooped-out space
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

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