Did you watch the Olympics? Tell me I’m not the only one who was completely and totally obsessed and riveted from start to finish.
I watched swimming, track and field, beach volleyball, gymnastics, archery, wresting, judo, badminton, table tennis, and more. All day long. We’re talking twelve hours a day. Not that I just sat on the couch and did nothing, but it was on all day and I kept up.
Of course, with all this watching, I spent much of the last two weeks wondering if secretly somewhere inside me is a gold medal award winning swimmer … even though I can’t swim. Also if it’s too late to get into rhythmic gymnastics, because I feel like I could actually do that.
Alas, it’s now all over and I don’t have, and it’s pretty safe to say, never will, a gold medal. Even so, I really only want the Olympics back on. I need something to watch, something to cheer for, and I don’t want summer to come to an end.
This is just another sign, along with the incessant mentioning of out “fall like weather” this week that doesn’t particularly seem fall like to me in the slightest, that doom … I mean fall … is impending.
There is something hopeful about the Olympics and summer, and I think we could all use more of that feeling right now with all that is going on in the world.
So I’ll just have to hang onto summer and find hope in this Peach Layer Cake. It’s a different kind of layer cake. A giant 9 by 13 layer cake with tart cherry jam in the middle and Italian buttercream on the outside.
The cake is soft and almost fall apart moist, loaded with fresh peaches. The jam adds a nice tartness, but it is really that buttercream, that steals the show. If you have never had or made Italian buttercream, don’t be intimidated by it. It’s really not that hard to make and it is the BEST frosting you will ever have I promise.
It tastes like ice cream and whipped cream had a baby and were flecked with lots of vanilla bean seeds. It’s light and airy, melts in your mouth, and not too sweet. In fact, it doesn’t even need cake, but it’s not considered okay by most people to eat it by the spoonful right out of the mixer bowl.
Seriously though, make the cake, make the frosting. It is gold medal worthy.
4 cups chopped peaches or nectarines, white or yellow
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup milk (I used almond, use what you love)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup water
2 tablespoons honey
5 large egg whites
1/2 + ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 jar tart cherry jam, for assembly
Make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. butter 2 9 by 13 inch pans, line with parchment leaving overhang to pull the cakes out later, and butter the parchment. If you only have 1 pan, bake one cake, let it cool a bit, remove it, and bake the second in the same pan.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. I did this by hand but a hand or stand mixer would also work. Beat in the vanilla, followed by the eggs one at a time, until once again light and fluffy.
In a medium bowl, stir together the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in the peaches and divide the batter evenly among the two pans. If you only have one, pour half in and bake the other half when it’s done.
Bake the cakes 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely in pan.
Make the frosting. In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar, water, and honey. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Then insert a candy thermometer and cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F. Alternately, you may use a small bowl of ice water to test a small amount of the hot syrup as it cooks. If it forms a soft ball in the water, it’s ready to go.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until stiff peaks form. Once the syrup and egg whites are ready, turn the mixer down to medium low and slowly drizzle the syrup in. once all the syrup has been added, turn the mixer back up to high and beat for about 13 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and cool.
Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time to the running mixer – watch your fingers! Once all the butter has been added, if the frosting is soupy refrigerate it for about 15 minutes, then beat it again and it should come together. This always happens to me. Beat in the vanilla bean paste.
Assemble the cake. Using the parchment overhang, remove one cake. Place it on a serving platter and use the frosting to make a boarder around the edge of the cake to hold in the jam. Spread the jam over the rest of the top of the cake. Place the other cake on top. Frost with the remaining frosting.
Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Cake may also be frozen in pieces, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Additional chilling time is necessary
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen