When peach season hits in the South, it hits hard, oftentimes with sweltering heat to boot! This delicious peach upside-down cake is given the royal floral treatment with fresh elderflowers, the delicate lacy precursors to the immune-boosting elderberry. It’s vegan, gluten-free, and the perfect amount of peachy sweetness for a warm summer afternoon. And if fresh elderflowers are difficult to get your hands on, dried elderflowers will do!
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Baking with Elderflowers
I’m just over here squeezing the plants in wherever I can! Today, peach upside-down cake is getting the royal edible flower treatment with incredibly lovely (and medicinal!) elderflowers.
Baking with elderflowers is so simple. It’s incredibly easy to add these fragrant little flowers to any and all of your baked goods.
You’ll often see elderflowers used to make wines and meads (honey wine), jam and jellies, liqueurs and cordials, and even plain ol’ tea. There are numerous recipes with elderflower to be made!
To bake with elderflowers, just stir them into the batter of your cakes, waffles and pancakes, quick breads, or biscuits and shortbreads. It’s an easy way to take any everyday humdrum cake or biscuit, no matter how delicious on its own, and make it that much more delicious.
The Health Benefits of Elderflower
And aside from the magic of adding any and all edible flowers to your plate, elderflowers, like elderberries, are quite medicinal. In medicine, elderflowers are often used in the following ways:
- Diuretic: helps the body get rid of excess sodium by increasing the amount of fluid we’re getting rid of through urine (may be helpful in treating high blood pressure)
- Anti-inflammatory: has a broad effect of decreasing inflammation in your body
- Nervine: nourishing and soothing to the central nervous system in a way that can help to bring balance to the body, easing stress and anxiety
- Vulnerary: promotes wound healing and works to ease inflammation
- Demulcent: helps to soothe irritated and inflamed internal tissues such as mucous membranes
- Expectorant and Anti-Catarrhal: helps the body to remove excess mucus (often used in sinus infections)
More Elder Recipes You’ll Love
How to Make Peach Upside-Down Cake
Here’s an over view of what you’ll need to make this vegan and gluten-free elderflower peach upside-down cake. You can find the full, detailed recipe at the bottom of this page.
Equipment You’ll Need:
- 9-9 1/2″ Round Cake Pan (I’ve been using these stainless steel cake pans for years without the worry about aluminum leaching into my food. 😬)
- Parchment Paper (Use unbleached parchment for the most food safe version.)
- Blender or Small Food Processor
- Large Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Rubber Spatula
- Sharp Knife
- Fresh Peaches
- Fresh Elderflowers (or dried elderflowers)
- Elderflower Liqueur or Cordial (like St. Germain or clean-ingredient non-alcoholic versions like D’arbo Elderflower Syrup)
- Coconut Oil (or a plant-based butter like Earth Balance or Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter)
- Oat Flour (I used Arrowhead Mills Oat Flour.)
- Almond Flour (not almond meal)
- White Rice Flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill White Rice Flour.)
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder
- Fine Grain Sea Salt
- Coconut Sugar (or brown sugar)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Prepare the pan. Line your 9″ round cake pan with a circle of parchment paper.
- Arrange the sliced peaches. Evenly coat the bottom of the prepared pan with melted coconut oil and coconut sugar with the help of a spatula or the back of a spoon. Then, arrange the sliced peaches in the bottom of the pan in slightly overlapping concentric circles.
- Mix the batter. First you’ll sift together the dry ingredients and then once throughly combined, create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. To the well, add all the wet ingredients. Then, use a whisk to slowly incorporate the wet ingredients together as you slowly start to mix them in with the dry. Mix together until thoroughly combined.
- Fold in the fresh elderflowers. After removing as much as the stem as possible, fold the fresh elderflowers into the batter.
- Spread batter over sliced peaches. Pour batter into prepared pan and use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to evenly smooth the batter over the arranged sliced peaches.
- Bake until golden. Bake the cake for about 35-38 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown, slightly cracked, and springs back when you lightly press it. Then remove from oven, allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes. After about 10-15 minutes, carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate.
- Dig in! Allow the cake to cool for at least another 20 minutes (or until completely cooled), then slice and enjoy. In my opinion, upside-down cakes are best served a little warm.
Tips, Tricks, & FAQs
Where can I get fresh elderflowers?
We’re so lucky in North America to have a few different species of elder that grow wild. Black elder (Sambucus nigra) and American Black Elder (S. nigra subsp. canadensis) grow wild in much of the Eastern United States. And in the western United States, you can find another closely related species called Blue Elder (Sambucus nigra subsp. cerulea).
You can typically find elder growing in disturbed places such as along roadsides, in hedgerows, or areas that have been recently burned. It also really loves water. Here in Florida, it’s common to find elder growing wild in swampy areas.
If you’re lucky enough to live were elder grows wild, you can harvest these lovely little flowers yourself! Depending on the climate, elderflowers are typically in bloom from spring through early summer.
However, if you’re not up for the task, you can sometimes find local foragers who sell fresh elderflowers at local farmer’s markets. And if fresh elderflowers aren’t an option for you, you can find high-quality dried elderflowers at online herb retailers like Mountain Rose Herbs.
Can I use canned or frozen peaches in this recipe?
You can, however I recommend waiting for peach season to make this recipe. It makes a huge difference. If you just can’t wait or don’t have access to fresh peaches, proceed with canned or frozen (thawed). Look for canned varieties packed in water. Using varieties packed in syrup or heavy preservatives significantly lowers the nutritive value of this cake.
Can I make this peach upside-down cake in a cast-iron skillet?
Be still my heart, I’m so glad you asked! Yes! You can easily make this peach upside-down cake in a cast-iron skillet. Pop your cast-iron into your oven, then turn it on to preheat while you slice the peaches and make the batter.
When ready, carefully remove the pan from the oven, then add in your coconut oil. Use a paper towel or heat-resistant pastry brush to evenly coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Then sprinkle the brown sugar evenly across the bottom of the pan, carefully arrange your sliced peaches, pour in the batter, and then bake!
When the cake is done baking, follow the same cooling and flipping instructions as in the recipe. The key to baking this cake in a cast-iron skillet is to assemble the cake into a pre-heated pan. Doing this helps the cake release better when it’s time to flip.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
Upside-down cakes are really best enjoyed the day they’re made. If you wanted to get a head start, there are a few things you could do to make this recipe come together more quickly.
- Prep the elderflowers. Take the time to remove as many stems as you can before hand. Carefully wrap the prepped flowers in a damp dish towel (or paper towel), put in a sealed container (or a reusable snack bag), and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. I don’t recommend doing this more than 1-2 days in advance.
- Slice the peaches & make the puree. This is a huge timesaver. Wash, prep, slice, puree. Store the slices and puree in airtight containers in the fridge until you’re ready to use.
- Mix the dry ingredients. I use this trick often. If I really need to save on time, I’ll go ahead an measure out all the dry ingredients and store them together in an air-tight container until the next day or whenever I’m ready to use them.
- Cut the parchment paper circle to line your pan. It’s a small step, but sometimes every second counts. I actually like to make a few at a time when I have a few spare minutes.
What’s the best way to flip an upside-down cake?
Flip it while it’s still warm! That’s the key! After removing from the oven, allow the cake to cool for about 10-15 minutes, then cover the cake with your serving plate. Use dry towels or pot holders to help you grab the pan while securely holding the plate to the pan. Then in one swift motion, flip it like you’ve been flipping upside-down cakes your whole life. It’s not difficult, but it might seem scary the first time. You got this!
Should upside-down cake be refrigerated?
Yes, the fresh peaches make this is a very moist cake. If left to sit out, it can go bad rather quickly. If there are leftovers, store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days, although it’s better eaten sooner than later.
Your peach upside-down cake might turn blue!
It’s true. There’s some culinary alchemical magic that occurs and the layer of peaches will slowly turn blue or purplish as the cake gets older. This is only due to a change in pH. Anthocyanins, an antioxidant flavonoid responsible for the red color of many fruits and vegetables, changes to blue or purple with increase pH. It’s not harmful, but it can look a little strange. I didn’t notice any change until day 2 or 3. Just wanted to warn ya!
Try These Other Botanical Desserts!
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Elderflower & Peach Upside-Down Cake Course: Dessert, Snacks, BreakfastCuisine: Vegan, Gluten-FreeDifficulty: Easy
(vegan, gluten free)
This elderflower peach upside-down cake makes for a healthy breakfast, snack, or dessert. Enjoy it by itself or serve warm with a scoop of dairy-free vanilla ice cream. If you don’t have fresh elderflowers, just use dried.
- Peach Topping
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or plant-based butter)
2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
~1 1/2 cups peaches, in ~1/8″ thick slices (no need to peel)
- Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 cup oat flour*
1/2 cup almond flour (not almond meal)
1/2 cup white rice flour
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used oat milk, but soy, almond, or rice work too.)
1/2 cup peach puree (~1 cup of diced peaches, no need to peel)
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup fresh elderflowers, de-stemmed (or 1/4 cup dried elderflowers)
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit into the bottom of a 9-9 1/2″ round cake pan, then set in pan.
- Add coconut oil (or plant-based butter) to pan and place in oven for a few minutes or until coconut oil is melted. (If already liquid, skip this step.) Then remove from oven, sprinkle in coconut sugar. Use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to evenly distribute the coconut sugar.
- Arrange the sliced peaches in the bottom of the pan in slightly overlapping concentric circles. I think it’s easiest to start on the outside edge and work your way towards the middle.
Set the prepared pan aside while you mix the cake.
- In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and then once throughly combined, create a well in the center. To the well, add non-dairy milk and the rest of the wet ingredients.
Then, use a whisk to slowly incorporate the wet ingredients together as you slowly start to mix them in with the dry. Mix together until thoroughly combined.
**Depending on how liquid-y your peach puree is, you may need to add more non-dairy milk. You want the batter to be thick, but pourable. Add more non-dairy milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed.
- Then fold the fresh elderflowers into the batter. (If using fresh elderflowers, be sure to remove as much of the little green stems as possible.)
- Pour batter into prepared pan and use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to evenly smooth the batter over the arranged sliced peaches.
- Bake the cake for about 35-38 minutes, until the top of the cake is golden brown, slightly cracked, and springs back when you lightly press it. Then remove from oven, allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
- After about 10-15 minutes, carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate.
- Allow the cake to cool for at least another 20 minutes (or until completely cooled), then slice and enjoy. In my opinion, upside-down cakes are best served a little warm. If you have leftovers, store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Re-heat as desired.
- *OAT FLOUR: To make your own oat flour, add rolled oats to a blender and process until powdered. You could put this through a mesh strainer to get out any larger pieces, but unless you have noticeable chunks of oats in the oat flour, I don’t find this necessary. **If you are incredibly intolerant of gluten, be sure to look for rolled oats (or oat flour) that are certified gluten-free. Those that aren’t may have trace amounts of gluten from being processed in facilities where gluten-containing products are also processed.
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DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before consuming certain herbs & medicinal foods, especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking any prescription medications.