best fresh peach cake
Fruit Bursing With Summer Goodness!
Oh, fresh peaches!
That pinnacle of hot-weather fruit, perfuming the air with a sweetness slightly tinged with bitter. Covered in fuzz but soft to the touch, oozing slippery juices when you peel back the skin. Delicious on its own and in fruit salads, but made into a cake, the peach is elevated to new heights.
Better than Good... It's Great!
One of the fruits most evocative of summer is the peach - fuzzy, juicy, sweet and tangy. I love ripe peaches, and the highlight of the year for me is when peaches are in season. I'll cheerfully stand bent over the sink, sticky juices running down my chin and arms as I bite into yielding orange flesh, my eyes closed in ecstasy... but since this is a G-rated lens, perhaps I'd better fade to black at this point.
I hate to admit it, but there is a limit to how many fresh peaches I can eat, greedy woman though I am. So when I'm faced with a glut of fruit, I reach for a tried and true recipe - Fresh Peach Cake. Soft, moist, vanilla-scented cake paired with slices of fresh peach, then the crunch of a brown sugar-cinnamon topping... honestly, what's not to love?
While you do have to take the trouble to peel your peaches, this is easily done by placing them into boiling water for about 45 seconds, then removing to a bowl of ice water immediately, and allow to cool for about 20 seconds. This will loosen the skin, and you should be able to peel it back with a paring knife.
You can use canned peaches in this recipe, but it's not ideal. Canned peaches are packaged in heavy sugar syrup, which will make the cake overly sweet, and the texture of the fruit won't be as delicate. Fresh peaches are really the best.
The recipe is simple and easy for inexperienced cooks to follow, too.
FRESH PEACH CAKE
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 fresh peaches, peeled and cut into slices
For the topping: mix together 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed) and 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease 12-inch (30 cm) springform pan (you can line the bottom with baking paper if you wish). Beat butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. In separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients (no need to sift). Put vanilla extract into milk. Add dry ingredients alternately with vanilla-spiked milk. When mixed well, gently fold in peach slices. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with topping. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove springform collar. Cool completely before serving.
Goes great with a dollop of whipped cream, or if you're feeling very luxurious, a scoop of real vanilla bean ice cream. Well-wrapped, the cake is sturdy enough to transport well, making it idea for a picnic or barbecue, and it will keep for a couple of days (if you can keep yourself and your family from finishing it off the first day!)
Substitute nectarines or fresh apricots for peaches.
In addition to peaches or nectarines, add a good handful of fresh raspberries or blueberries to the cake mix - be gentle folding in delicate fresh fruits.
Add finely chopped almonds to the topping.
For richer flavor and more tang, substitute buttermilk for milk in cake batter. Be sure to add 1/4 tsp. baking soda to the flour, baking powder and salt mixture to help the cake rise.