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...


Cerebrum said...

Oooo, the cake in all it's splendor! It looks good, and I really think I'd like the peach/ginger combo... Must find peaches! And must go find candied ginger...

Rosa said...

This looks so good. I love crystalized ginger. (It's great for upset tummies too--and I give it to the kids when they're sick!) Good stuff.

Cathy said...

Hi Zarah! The peaches (and tomatoes, and corn...) are so wonderful right now - too bad you missed them! Maybe on your next visit? :)

Hi Rosa! I was on a real kick with ginger a year or so ago, particularly the crystalized ginger. My parents gave me a gift that included some of the Australian variety and it was amazing. It's not at all fibrous. I'm able to find some in Whole Foods that is fine for baking, but it can't compete with the Australian type for snacking.

Anonymous said...

Yum! I love ginger and peaches both! I haven't had too many good peaches yet this year, though...hopefully that will change soon.

Cathy said...

Hi Alice - is that you? So nice to see you back here!!! I had lots of really so-so peaches up until last week. They seemed kind of watery, not especially sweet, and weren't keeping well. But the ones from the last couple of weeks have been outstanding. Hope it lasts!

Nic said...

Oh my, Cathy. This sounds delightful! Peaches are one of those fruits that I like baking with over eating (for some reason), and this cake might be just the thing when I buy a new batch.

Cathy said...

Hi Nic - that's funny - I'm just the opposite! Actually, I do love peaches baked into things, but in my mind nothing beats a really sweet and juicy fresh peach. I'm funny about the skin though. Mine must be peeled!

Anonymous said...

I made this cake tonight in cupcake form because I couldn't find my pans. They were yummy! I doubled the recipe and mixed all the wet things first and then just added the dry ingredients because I am lazy and didn't want to clean two bowls. They were amazing and my 2 and 3 year old wolfed them down! I also made my own candied ginger and it really made yummy and was really easy (I just typed in how to make candied ginger). I love the internet! Thank you for this yummy treat!

Cathy said...

Hi Anon - I'm so happy to hear you made it and enjoyed it! I'm wondering what you used for peaches this time of year - frozen? I expect for the puree they would work great. I may have to try that myself!