August 11, 2018

Summer Peach Cake

If I'm not traveling and find myself at home for the weekend my Sunday morning ritual normally consists of a bit of exercise (if I'm not feeling super lazy) and afterwards heading over to the Clement Street Farmer's Market.  Being in California I think we are so spoiled with all the amazing fruits and vegetables literally grown in our backyards.  I love to peruse the various stands to see the abundance of what's in season.  It's a feast for the eyes and stomach!

The yellow peaches this summer have been especially delicious, perfectly ripe but still firm and sweet.  They're hands down my favorite fruit to buy at the market lately.  While my preference is to enjoy the peaches unadorned I'd been meaning to try America's Test Kitchen's recipe for Summer Peach Cake for quite a while.  What better time than now when peaches were at their best?

What I liked about this particular recipe was that most of the peaches were roasted, minimizing the risk of a soggy cake bottom.  Plus, the oven caramelizes the juices which really concentrates the fruit flavor.   The batter couldn't be easier to pull together and is whisked by hand so there's no need to pull out the stand mixer. 

This cake is literally bursting with peach flavor, I kid you not.  You're supposed to wait 2-3 hours for the cake to cool completely but I couldn't refrain myself.  After digging in to a slice I can tell you that it's absolutely delicious.  What I especially love is the addition of almond extract in the batter; it adds a certain je ne said quoi that makes the cake taste out of this world.  

Don't let the simplicity of the cake's appearance fool you - it easily rivals any of those fancy cakes in taste, bar none.  If you insist, you could dress it up a bit by adding a dusting of confectioner's sugar or a dollop of freshly whipped cream.  Why not make it à la mode with a scoop of ice cream?  Any way you serve it it's going to be peachy keen!

Summer Peach Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake

2 1/2 pounds peaches, pitted and cut in to 1/2 inch-thick wedges
5 tablespoons peach schnapps (if you're using peak-of-season, farm-fresh peaches you can omit the schnapps) 
4 teaspoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons + 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sour cream (I used Greek yogurt) 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, finely crushed

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. Gently toss 24 peach wedges with 2 tablespoons schnapps, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar in bowl; set aside. 

Cut remaining peach wedges crosswise into thirds. Gently toss chunks with remaining 3 tablespoons schnapps, remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in bowl. Spread peach chunks in single layer on prepared sheet and bake until exuded juices begin to thicken and caramelize at edges of sheet, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer sheet to wire rack and let peaches cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. 

Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and eggs together in second bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add sour cream, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract; whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined. 

Transfer half of batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle crushed bread crumbs evenly over cooled peach chunks and gently toss to coat. Arrange peach chunks on batter in even layer, gently pressing peaches into batter. Gently spread remaining batter over peach chunks and smooth top. Arrange reserved peach wedges, slightly overlapped, in ring over surface of cake, placing smaller wedges in center. Stir together remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and remaining 1/8 teaspoon almond extract in small bowl until sugar is moistened. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over top of cake.

Bake until center of cake is set and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.


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