If fresh peaches weren’t just so darn good, we’d be sick of them by now. Instead, we’re thinking about the next time we can get out to pick some more! But, for now, we think we’ll make up Peach Cake. It’s fast and easy, but, most importantly, it’s tasty. Plus, you can claim you’re eating fruit, when you’re really eating cake!
When we have a bunch of peaches, this is our standard go-to recipe for a quick, tasty cake. Naturally, it came from our go-to cookbook: The Joy of Cooking, by by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, although we did modify it a bit to eliminate the need for separating eggs and making meringue. Not that we think it’s too much trouble; it’s just that this cake doesn’t need it.
Making the cake is very straightforward: slice peaches into a pan, add some sugar and a few other ingredients, spread a batter over the top, and bake. Once baked, simply invert onto a plate for a nice-looking, fruit-covered cake. Oh, and, you can use fruits other than peaches and make an equally nice pear cake, or apple cake, all in little over 30 minutes. How’s that for some serious scratchin’?
Makes one 8-inch round cake.
Fresh ripe peaches are the only real key here. Using substandard peaches (read: store peaches) will result in a substandard cake (read: taste like a store cake). That might be good enough for others, but not for people like us. Right? For the lemon, if you can, try to buy organic, since you’ll be using the zest. Failing that, you can wash it well with soap and water to remove the wax and pesticides. Sometimes we run boiling water over the lemon to remove the wax. After all, we want zest, not wax and bug killer.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease an 8-inch cake pan, and move a rack to the middle of the oven.
Zest and juice lemon. As we said above, when you use the zest, scrub that lemon well. Then, either grate the zest off, use a shape knife, or, if you have one, (we just bought ours), use a microplane to remove the zest. Then squeeze the juice. We knew these were going on the fruit at the same time, so we just mixed the zest in with the juice. It seemed the simplest thing to do.
Peel and slice peaches. This is the most difficult part, and even that isn’t difficult. So peel those peaches, slice each into eight wedges, and cover the bottom of your cake pan. We ended up using about 5 peaches total.
Sprinkle with sugar. Once you have the peaches in a layer, pour the sugar over the top in a somewhat even layer. Then, if using, sprinkle with a bit of nutmeg. No nutmeg? Use cinnamon, but just a bit to give a hint of flavor; we’re making a peach cake, not a spice cake.
Douse with lemon. Pour the lemon juice and zest over the sugar. Try to spread it around evenly and dissolve some of the sugar.
Dredge with flour. Well, we wouldn’t think of using the term dredge here, but Rombauer and Becker do, so dredge the fruit with about a tablespoon of flour. Or maybe sprinkle with the flour, whichever term you think is more appropriate.
Drizzle with butter. Melt the butter in the microwave and drizzle about 3 tablespoons over the top. When we do this, we melt 4 tablespoons of butter and try to use only about 3 of those tablespoons now, saving the remaining tablespoon for the batter.
That’s it for the fruit layer, so let’s get to work on the batter.
Combine dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cup of flour, the 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Combine wet ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and a tablespoon of melted butter.
Make batter. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and quickly stir them together. It should make a fairly thick but smooth batter. A bit thicker than pancake batter, perhaps, but not like a dough.
Spread batter over fruit. Using a rubber spatula, spread the batter in an even layer over the fruit. We try to have a bit more batter near the edges; it’ll bake more evenly, although we’ve failed sometimes, and ended up with a cake whose middle needed to be baked just a few minutes more. We ate it anyway.
Bake. Slide the cake into the oven and bake it for about 30 minutes; the top should get nice and brown. With all the fruit on the bottom of this cake, we’re not sure if you can reliably test it for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center and having it come out clean. We tried it this time, and it was clean, but that might have been a fluke.
Rest. Remove the cake and let it rest for a few minutes, while you steel yourself for this next step.
Invert. Surprise! This is an upside-down cake, and now it’s upside-down and we need to fix that. Place a large plate over the top of the cake pan, grab it with both hands — use oven mitts — and, in a quick motion, pull the cake and plate upward and over. It should drop right out onto the plate. Ta dah! You could be a magician.
Cool. Let the cake cool as long as you dare, then cut a nice slice. We happened to have a few raspberries, so we popped some on to make it look even more special.
As we said above, this is a great go-to cake for fresh fruit. It’s easy, the cake looks nice, tastes good, and you can pretend that you’re eating healthy from all that fruit. The only downside we’ve had, is that it seems a bit fickle when it comes to the proper amount of baking. We’ve had it turn out a bit underdone in the middle (still really good), or a bit overdone, too (a bit on the dry side, even with all that fruit). Still, for how fast, easy, and tasty this cake is, four stars.