I’m fairly convinced peaches are the world’s perfect food. All summer long I eat one every day, even when I’m looking forward to a dessert full of the fuzzy stone fruits. I’m not too picky because I love them so much. I switch between yellow and white seamlessly. Clingstone or freestone? Doesn’t matter. I do prefer California peaches over southern or Michigan peaches. Sorry to those of you who think that’s peach blasphemy, but there’s something about the huge, barely fuzzy, balls of peachy goodness from California that cannot be matched. You may find this odd, but I don’t like nectarines much at all. I’ll eat them if they’re the only stone fruit I can get my hands on, but I don’t particularly enjoy them. So you’ll probably never see a nectarine recipe here.
I actually like peaches best raw, as they are. That doesn’t mean I don’t bake with them; I do all the time. I also roasted one with a little balsamic vinegar the other night, and it was a fantastic match to some halibut.
I’ll take the peaches I can get, but over the past few years I’ve discovered some that are extraordinary. Papa Joe’s Market, my favorite grocery store, occasionally stocks some fruit from Gold Bud Farms. For those few fleeting weeks usually around the beginning of September, I gather them as though I am a chipmunk. The size is unbelievable and the quality amazing, as I’ve never been disappointed by a single piece of fruit.
My favorite purveyor of all things fruit may just be Frog Hollow Farm. I posted some information about them and their amazing fruit with my Warren Pear Muffins. Warren Pears are one of the only reasons I’m looking forward to fall. But Frog Hollow’s peaches are as good, if not better. Again, nothing but perfect fruit fills the boxes. My latest purchase was Suncrest peaches, an heirloom variety that did not disappoint. Sweet, juicy, I think they may be the best peaches I’ve ever had. I actually did a side by side comparison of an excellent grocery store peach next to one of these, and there was no comparison. These tasted that much better next to a regular old peach.
I wanted to bake with a few of them, so I made this Peach Cake adapted from Ina Garten. It’s one of my favorite recipes, particularly of Ina’s. I made this cake once before and think it was better this time with these peaches. If you love food as much as I do and want to splurge (and it is a bit of a splurge, unfortunately) on a special product, order some peaches from Frog Hollow. The only problem is, you’ll want to order more, as all their varieties are outstanding. But even if you don’t, enjoy the bounty of peach season and make this cake with whatever peaches you love.
It’s a pretty simple cake, though I added a good deal of spice compared with the original. I also like baking it in a round pan, rather than square, but feel free to use a 9-inch square if you prefer. The only warning I have about this cake is that it takes an eternity to bake. Seriously, forever. It may start getting too brown on top; if this happens, just tent it to make sure it bakes through.
The end result is impressive looking. A deep golden brown and slightly crunchy top is enhanced by the soft peaches and crunchy pecans. When cut into, an incredibly moist, lightly spiced cake with a crumb similar to that of a coffee or crumb cake, is layered with peaches and surrounded by deep golden brown, but still soft, sides and bottom. This cake is incredible. If you love cake and peaches you are bound to love this pretty easy to make cake. It’s a bite of bliss and a bite of summer.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, divided
- 1 cup sour cream
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 3 large, ripe, yellow peaches, pitted, peeled, and sliced pretty thinly
- ½ cup pecans, untoasted (I don’t like to chop them)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment. Butter the parchment.
- In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
- In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. I did this by hand, but a hand of stand mixer would also work. Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Add the sour cream and vanilla. Mix to combine before adding the flour mixture. Stir to combine.
- In a small bowl, mix together remaining ½ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
- Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Spread evenly. Place half the peaches and ⅔ of the cinnamon mixture over the batter. I like to fan the peaches in a pattern, but anything will do. Pour the remaining batter over the peaches. Place the rest of the peaches on top, again I like to do it in a fan pattern. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top of the cake, pressing some gently into the batter, and keeping them away from the sides of the pan as much as possible – they have a tendency to burn. Sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon mixture over the top.
- Place foil on the oven rack below the rack you are baking the cake on, as some of it may bake over. Bake the cake 65-75 minutes, rotating halfway through if necessary and tenting if necessary, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Serve warm (it’s really good warm) or at room temperature. May be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. For ¼ of the cake thaw at room temperature for several hours or in a 350 degree F oven wrapped in parchment for 25-30 minutes until warmed through. Bigger pieces of cake will take longer to thaw.