August 30, 2011

Peach Cake

It's a peach extravaganza!  The tree is calling my name and I'm all to happy to answer.  (Don't worry Gena I haven't taken that many!)  These perfectly ripe peaches are fast becoming my favourite treat, I don't exaggerate when I say I eat 3 or 4 a day.  This time I put them in cake, while we had my grandparents over for coffee.  I woke early and hustled over to the tree which was eagerly awaiting my arrival, I know this because the branches bowed, dipping low so I could reach every single one.

I saw this recipe in a recent Cooks Illustrated and figured I'd put in the extra effort and give it a shot to avoid a soggy-under flavoured-gummy mess..  Overall it was well worth it,  my only reservation was that this promised-non wet crumb didn't quite deliver, the center was still a little to moist for my tastes.  Maybe I need to bake it a little longer next time.  The cake was perfectly peach-y, not overly sweet and balanced with a bit of almond flavour.  All and all, it was well worth the extra mile I took to get there.

Peach Cake

2 1/2 lbs pounds peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch wedges
5 Tbsp peach schnapps (I used cherry schnapps)
4 tsp lemon juice
75 g (6 Tbsp) + 66g (5 Tbsp) sugar
140 g (5oz or 1 cup) flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
100 g (1/2 cup) brown sugar
2 large eggs
120 g (8 Tbsp) butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup sour cream (I used yogurt)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs, crushed fine

Put the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease lightly with oil.  Gently combine 24 peach wedges with 2 Tbsp of schnapps, 2 tsp lemon juice and 1 Tbsp sugar in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside.

Cut the remaining peach wedges crosswise into three piece each.  Gently toss with the remaining 3 Tbsp schnapps, 2 tsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp sugar.  Spread the peach chunks out in one layer on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the juices begin to thicken and caramelize at the edges of the pan.  Transfer to a rack and let cool until the peaches reach room temperature, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.

Oil a 9 inch springform pan with vegetable oil.  Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.  Whisk the brown sugar, 66 g (5 Tbsp, 1/3 cup) white sugar and eggs in a bowl until very well combined, about 45 seconds.  Slowly stir in the butter until combined.  Add the sour cream (or yogurt), vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract; whisk until just combined.  Add the flour mixture and whisk again until just combined.

Transfer half the batter to the bottom of the springform pan.  Using an offset spatula spread the batter evenly over the bottom to the edges for a smooth surface.  Sprinkle the crush panko crumbs over the roasted peaches and toss with your fingers to coat.  Arrange the peach chunks in a single layer over the batter, gently pressing in.  Spread the remaining batter on top and gently smooth.  Arrange the reserved macerated peaches in two rings around the top of the cake, placing the smaller wedges in the center.  Stir together the remaining 3 Tbsp sugar and 1/8 tsp almond extract in a bowl until the sugar is moistened.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top.

Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes, until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack; cool for 5 minutes.  Run a pairing knife around the outside to loosen and take the ring off the cake.  Cool completely, 2-3 hours.

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