Saturday, August 05, 2006
Ginger Peach Cake
As much as I anticipate blueberry season each summer, there is actually something I look forward to even more - the brief time when I have both blueberries from my backyard and early local peaches. And when the birds have gotten the better of my blueberry bush, I have a long season of sweet peaches to console me.
I love peaches, but I seldom bake with them since my favorite way to eat them is out of hand. On those rare occasions when I find myself in possession of more peaches than I can eat, I've been known to make a peach pie or Maida Heatter's Blueberry and Peach Buckle (awesome!). But last summer after having sampled a bit of ginger peach poundcake in the grocery store, I was taken with this flavor pairing and moved to concoct something of my own.
My first concept was doomed to failure - it was sort of a peach pie filling with a gingery cake on top. The cake melted into the filling, creating an incredibly delicious, but impossibly ugly dessert. In my next attempt, I decided to bake the cake alone, but somehow managed to leave out the sugar - there was no way to salvage that one. Though I was eager to give it one more try, the peach season ended before I had a chance.
Last weekend I bought a 4-quart basket of peaches (the best I've had so far this season) which provided plenty of peaches to top my cereal with, snack on, and finally make this cake with. I'm very happy with how the cake turned out - it's spicy, moist, sweet, and very good. If you've got a couple of peaches that are less than perfect or are beyond ripe, this would be a good way to use them. If you're not in the mood to bake, you can puree the peaches and freeze them until you are.
Please don't be tempted to leave out the candied ginger - in addition to adding wonderful flavor, texturally, the little bits of ginger are almost nut-like after baking.
I turned to my trusted Wooden Spoon Dessert Book by Marilyn Moore for a cake recipe to use as a starting point. Her Mystery Cake, which calls for tomato soup, seemed just the thing.
Ginger Peach Cake
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
3/4 cup peach puree (1 to 2 peaches, depending on size)
2 tablespoons finely diced candied ginger
For topping: more peaches, sugar and lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Cut a parchment circle to fit and put in bottom of pan. Dust sides of pan with flour (if you don't have parchment, dust the bottom and sides with flour).
Whisk the flour and next five ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and lemon zest, then add the sugar and beat well. Add the egg and then the egg yolk, beating well after each addition. On low speed, add about half a cup of the flour mixture, then the peach puree, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Use a spatula to scrape the beaters and sides of the bowl and mix just until well combined. Add the candied ginger then turn into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes.
While the cake is baking, cut up some peaches and stir in a squirt of lemon juice and a little sugar. When the cake is done let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn it out onto a rack to finish cooling. When cool or just barely warm, cut into wedges and serve topped with the macerated peaches. Serves 5.
I like this little snack cake just as it is - it's a good size for me and the flavor is wonderful - but I was thinking it might be nice as a layer cake. Double the recipe, top with sweetened whipped cream and peaches, mmm...