Friday, July 26, 2013

Peach Cake

Yesterday I happened to see a reference to the fact that Christmas is only 152 days away and I suddenly lost my bearings.  Although it’s not hard to imagine the trays of cookies, the scent of pine and a chill in the air, I like to stay firmly planted in the present.  And, as I review my calendar for August, I realize another interesting moment is approaching, the 6th year anniversary of this blog.  Yikes!  While it’s true that most bloggers routinely hit a wall after two years, my intentions are still very much in tact.  So I just keep going week after week, fashioning the cream and the crumb.  I still love working and learning in my lab season after season, each with its own mood, sights and scents.  

For example, there’s this moment in the summertime when you walk into the kitchen and the intoxicating aroma of ripened peaches washes over you like the best perfume.  Their skins are dark red and they give just a bit to the touch.  They’re ready.

It’s my impression that the fruit in my region has been very good this year.  I only ran into a couple of mealy apricots but the rest of my purchases have been really stellar.  And so it is with these peaches.  They were beautifully ripe and I thought I’d use them to substitute in Thomas Keller’s Apple Cake from The French Laundry Cookbook.  The recipe is a pretty basic cake formula with fresh fruit slices pushed into the surface.  When you cut into it,  the orange red sunset hues of the peaches are revealed.  An easy cake for summer, the fruit bakes into a warm luscious texture.  

So my advice for the day is to seize the moment.   Before we head toward Christmas once again, pick up some peaches and immerse yourself in the joys of summer!!

Bench notes:
- Peaches should be ripe but not overripe or the cake will be soggy.
- I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla along with the milk.
- The recipe calls for baking the cake for 40 – 50 minutes but mine was done in just about 40 minutes, so check it on the early side.
- This cake would be nice served with a dollop of whipped cream flavored with almond extract or Amaretto.
- Keller’s recipe is an apple and cranberry cake served with a sweetened butter and cream sauce.

Peach Cake
based on Sally Schmitt’s Cranberry and Apple Kuchen with Hot Cream Sauce in Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook
Serves 8

2 – 3 (about 1 lb) fresh peaches

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 oz (6 tablespoons) butter @ room temperature
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk @ room temperature                                                           

3 tablespoons (29 grams) sugar
scant 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9" cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper.

Cut the peaches in half and remove the pit.  Cut into 1/2” slices and set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the egg and combine thoroughly.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with half the milk, beginning and ending with flour.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Press the peach slices into the batter, skin side up, working around the pan in a circular pattern and leaving a little less than 1/2” above the batter. 

Combine the 3 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle evenly on the surface of the cake.   Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 38 – 42 minutes.  Place on a wire rack to cool for ten minutes.  Run a thin bladed knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, then invert.  Peel off the parchment and invert again.  Cool. 


Audrey said...

Congratulations on your six years! Your blog is lovely and very inspiring, and I always look forward to your creations.

pastry studio said...

Thanks so much, Audrey! It's so very nice to know that others also get some measure of pleasure from my pastry pursuits!

Sue/the view from great island said...

What a beautiful cake, I love how the batter bakes up around the peaches!

Elly McCausland said...

I love how your recipes are alway so simple and understated, but all the more beautiful for that. Peaches never usually make it into cakes in my kitchen - I tend to devour them before they get a chance - but this might just be worth it!

pastry studio said...

Thanks, Sue. So many ways to make these cakes with fruit look beautiful.

I love your blog!

pastry studio said...

Good morning to you, Elly. I agree about just devouring fresh peaches as is! Hard to resist.

My style is very heavily influenced by the time I spent as an intern one summer at Chez Panisse. I handled some of the most exquisite fruit I've ever seen. The mantra of the pastry kitchen was to do very little to it to preserve all the bright robust fresh flavors. So I prefer simple, rustic, unfussy pastries and desserts that really emphasize the central ingredients.

Hope you're enjoying a lovely day!

Meredith Burney said...

Congratulations on your 6 years, I look forward to each post and my family is happier for it! Picked up some extra peaches today at the farmers market so that I can both make the cake and have some around for eating. Thanks

pastry studio said...

Meredith, comments like yours really make my day! Thanks so much. May you continue to enjoy my work. And I'm drooling just thinking about your farmer's market peaches!

Pam @ Sticks Forks Fingers said...

Your "Be Here Now" sentiments are well said and appreciated, as is your long- living blog project! Congratulations on your consistantly lovely work.

pastry studio said...

You are very kind, Pam. Thank you!

valerie s. said...

Six years, already? Your creations are always an inspiration, so simple, so elegant, a pleasure to look at and eat! Thanks so much!

pastry studio said...

Thank you so much for your sweet comments, valerie s. Time does seem to be flying by, doesn't it?

I have such wonderful readers. Thank you all for your comments and emails. I do cherish them!

Unknown said...