Friday, June 6, 2014

Brown Butter Peach Sauce Cake

While we're entertaining our annual fantasies of fresh fruit pies, cobblers, crisps and shortcakes, today I'm going with peaches, one of the stars of the spring fruit cache we so happily find in our midst.  I was surprised to see their fuzzy crimson arrival so early, all stacked up in a beautiful pyramid fresh for the taking.

Oooo….so many pastries and desserts to ponder, I think it's going to be another great season.  At this moment, I've decided to bake my peaches in a saucy cake to bring out their lovely juices.  There are three layers to this cake that conspire together in a funny way: a fruit layer on the bottom, a layer of cake batter and then a liquid topping that gets poured over the batter but not stirred or mixed in.  Somehow it all magically turns into a cake with sauced fruit into the bottom.  Ah, science.

I browned the butter for the cake because I can't help myself.  Browned butter jut makes everything better.  I used brown sugar for practically the same reason and because peaches and the caramel notes brown sugar add are BLING.  A dash of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg introduce a great hint of spice into the mix.

This is what I'd call an old-fashioned spoon dessert and the scent of this cake baking will find you with plate and spoon at the ready to dive in ASAP.  It's pretty simple and satisfying and an easy introduction to the wonderful world of this summer's peaches.  Let's get going!

Bench notes:
- You can blanch the peaches for just a few seconds in simmering water and then peel them if you prefer.  I like to leave the skins on.
- Use a stainless steel pan to brown the butter so you can watch it carefully as it takes just a quick moment to burn.  Once you begin to detect a nutty aroma, it's about done.  I lift the pan off the heat and swirl it for more control if I think it's browning too fast or nearly ready.  It will continue to brown once you take if off the heat.  Pour immediately into a heatproof bowl to stop the cooking.
- Let the browned butter cool before combining with the milk, egg and vanilla.
- Once the cake batter is mixed, the leaveners are activated.  So have the ingredients for the liquid topping ready to go in the pan.  Move quickly to heat it and then pour it gently over the cake and get it into the oven.
- This is a great dessert all by itself but of course lends well to serving with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream for an extra bonus of lusciousness.

Brown Butter Peach Sauce Cake
Serves 9 - 12

Fruit Layer
3 fresh peaches (about 1 lb)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 - 3 tablespoons (26 - 39 grams) granulated sugar
pinch of cinnamon

Liquid Topping
1 cup (8 oz) water
1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon (16 grams) molasses
1/2 oz (1 tablespoon) unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Cake Batter
2 oz ( 4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup (5 oz) flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 1/2 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk @ room temperature
1 egg @ room temperature
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease an 8" x 8" baking dish.

Cut the peaches into slices and place in a bowl.  Toss with lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside.

Place the ingredients for the liquid topping in a saucepan and set aside.

For the cake batter, cut the 2 oz butter into small pieces and place in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Swirl the butter carefully as the foam subsides and the flecks on the bottom of the pan turn golden brown.  The browning only takes just a very few minutes with this small amount.  Lift the pan off the heat periodically to check on the browning and to avoid burning.  Once it turns into a rich amber brown, pour immediately into a heatproof dish to stop the cooking.  Set aside to cool.

For the cake batter, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar until completely combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk, cool browned butter, egg and vanilla until thoroughly blended.  Using a fork, stir the flour mixture into the liquid until just incorporated and there are no dry streaks.

Toss the peaches and distribute them in an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Carefully spread the cake batter on top of the peaches, fully extending it to the edges and corners of the pan.

Place the pan with the liquid topping ingredients on high heat and bring just to a boil, whisking to combine.  Remove from heat and pour over the cake gently and slowly.  Do not stir or attempt to mix the liquid into the batter in any way.

Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 25 - 30 minutes.  Place on a wire rack for a few minutes to rest.  Serve warm.

1 comment:

dina said...

it looks delicious!