As I’ve mentioned before, my all-time favorite pie is Bobby Flay’s Peach Blackberry Pie. I still remember making it, the first pie I made, about four years ago like it was yesterday. But as much as I love pie, and I do love pie, just look at the title of the blog, sometimes I’m more of a cake girl. I attribute this to the fact that to get my cake fix I almost always have to make it myself because most restaurants and bakeries focus on chocolate cake or cross contaminate other cakes with chocolate. So I thought I’d make a cake inspired by my favorite pie.
This idea actually came to me when I was writing one of my novels. Because I’m pretty obsessed with food, it usually makes a couple of appearances in my writing. Write what you know, right? I wrote about a peach blackberry cake and recently figured I should go ahead and try to make it. This is mostly a peach cake, with tons of fresh peaches in both the cake and frosting. However, the blackberry may be the most important part, giving brightness and a bit of acidity to an otherwise sweet cake. I used American Spoon Blackberry Spoon Fruit. Yes, there are seeds in it, but I didn’t detect them and felt the Spoon Fruit gave amazing flavor to the cake. Feel free to use any kind of blackberry jam or preserves with or without seeds.
This cake went through a few tests, and I believe I have now perfected it, as I had to stop myself from going in for a second piece, something that very rarely happens to me. The cake itself is moist and rich. It is a butter cake, but the addition of peaches adds to the moistness greatly. It bakes up nicely. Slicing it in half may be a bit tricky, but with patience it is doable, and if the cake breaks, just put it back together with some frosting. The bits of peach in the cake a like hidden gems, enclosing the flavor of summer.
Speaking of which, the frosting is an Italian meringue buttercream. I’m not a big fan of traditional buttercream, as it’s quite buttery and grainy from the confectioners’ sugar. Italian meringue buttercream has a few more steps, including one with a candy thermometer, but don’t be afraid, it’s really quite easy and forgiving, and definitely worth the effort. It’s smooth, silky, and flavorful, as it melts in your mouth. Here’s a step by step guide on how to make it.
When the egg whites are whipped, they should look like the photo above. During this time, the syrup should also be cooking.
After the syrup is added and the mixture beats on high for about 7 minutes, you have Italian meringue. This is addictively, unbelievably delicious as is, but buttercream tastes better on this cake. Feel free to take a taste or two at this point. You won’t regret it.
After slowly adding the butter and beating, this is probably what you’ll have. It looks gross and doesn’t taste very good either. Put it in the refrigerator for awhile. Then beat again.
This is the peach puree. It is also addictively delicious. I could eat it like a soup. It must be chilled before adding to the frosting.
After chilling in the refrigerator and being whipped again, usually for a short period of time, the frosting will be smooth and silky. Add the peach puree little by little, and this is what you have. Tasting at this point would also be appropriate.
Adding the peach puree to the frosting thins it out a little, be sure not to add too much or it will become soupy, but I love the mellow peach flavor of it. Mom thinks it would be good without it. Try it either way. If you make the peach puree, drizzle some over your slice of cake. It gives pure peach flavor and a restaurant quality eye appeal. The combined flavor of the cake, frosting, and jam screams summer, may be better than the pie that inspired it, and is an explosion of flavor. Take a few hours and give this cake a try; you and anyone you share it with, if you can give any of it up, will be impressed.
- 2 ½ cups cake flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups finely chopped peaches and juice from peaches, peeled and pitted
- 3 medium peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 ½ cups + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 5 large egg whites
- ½ + 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup peach puree
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 8 or 9 inch round cake pans. Line bottoms of pans with parchment. Butter and flour parchment and pan, making sure to tap out any excess flour.
- In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, combine sugars and butter until light and fluffy, using wooden spoon or spatula. If butter is truly room temperature machinery should not be necessary. Add eggs and vanilla, stirring to fully combine. Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour. You should add flour in 3 installments and milk in 2. Stir the batter until just combined. Fold in the peaches. Divide the batter as evenly as possible between the 2 pans. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes completely in pans.
- Make the peach puree. Combine peaches and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook until the mixture is bubbling and has thickened juices, about five minutes. Remove from heat to cool slightly. Pour peach mixture into bowl of food processor. Process until the mixture is completely smooth, about 1 minute. Pour mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours and up to 2 days to cool and thicken.
- Make the frosting. In a small saucepan, combine the water, 1 ½ cups sugar, and corn syrup over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once this occurs, attach a candy thermometer, raise the heat to medium, and stop stirring. Bring the mixture to 240 degrees F on the thermometer. In the meantime, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip on medium-high until they become frothy. Once this happens, add the cream of tartar. Continue whipping until soft peaks form; then add 2 teaspoons sugar and whip until stiff, but not dry peaks form. Timing is tricky. If the egg whites look done before the syrup, stop them for a few moments, then begin whipping again when the syrup is almost done. If the syrup is close to done before the egg whites, turn the heat down to low. Raise it when the whites are ready.
- Once the syrup is at 240 and the egg whites are whipped, turn the mixer to low and slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg whites while still bubbling hot. Try not to get the syrup on the side of the bowl. Once the syrup is in the egg whites, turn the mixer back up to medium high and beat for about 7 minutes, until the mixtures has grown in size and is thick, glossy, and sticky. The bottom of the bowl should also have cooled, but will still be warm.
- With the mixer still running on medium-high, begin adding the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, making sure each tablespoon is fully incorporated before another addition. Slowly counting to 10 is enough time. After all the butter has been added, beat for about 5 more minutes. If it looks like thick, silky buttercream, move on to the next step of adding the peach puree, but chances are it will look like a soupy mess. Don’t panic. Put the mixture in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to three. Then, place it back on the mixer and whip for up to another 5 minutes, or longer if truly necessary. You should have buttercream!
- Take the peach puree out of the refrigerator right before using. Slowly add the puree to the buttercream, stirring after each small addition. The frosting should thin slightly. Once this happens do not add any more puree or the frosting will become soupy.
- Assemble the cake. Cut each of the cakes in half horizontally using a serrated knife. Do your best to create even layers, but they do not need to be perfect. Place one half of one cake on a serving plate. Spread with frosting. Place another half on top. Spread with blackberry jam. Place the third half on the cake. Spread with frosting. Place the final layer of cake and cover the entire cake with frosting. You should use it all. A crumb coat may be necessary, as the cake has many crumbs.
- Cake may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day, but it should come to room temperature before serving. It may also be frozen, wrapped in plastic and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for several hours, keeping in mind the larger the piece, the longer it will take to thaw.