There they were, four fresh peaches just sitting on the counter — you can help nearly ripe peaches along by letting them stand at room temperature for a day or two, but unripe peaches are beyond hope — looking as if they’d been forgotten. They had not; we had plans to make a peach cake and four was just the perfect amount of peaches.
We’ve made peach cakes before, and they’re one of our favorites, partly because they’re so quick and easy to put together. This time, though, we thought that we wanted something with a bit more flavor, specifically almonds. Now, we could have put a few drops of almond extract in the batter and let it go at that, but, we knew that the cake should have almonds in it. So, with nothing more than this idea, we modified our standard peach cake recipe to make something a bit more rustic and loaded with almonds. Scratch one up and let us know what you think; as far as we know, this is a scratchin’ original.
Fresh peaches only, baby. Canned peaches are just corn syrupy tasting and that’s not for your cake. Since you’re using the zest of a lemon, consider buying organic. When we can’t get organic, we make sure to wash with dish soap to remove the wax applied to make the lemon look shiny. As with all baking, choose unsalted butter. You’re the baker, so you should decide the amount of salt. And, get that egg from a free-range hen. Check around; you’d be surprised at the number of backyard layers these days. Maybe even your neighbor, who wouldn’t mind some peach cake in trade for a couple of eggs.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Yes, that hot. We know that most cakes bake at around 350°F, but not this one. We think it has something to do with cooking the layer of fruit on the bottom and the thin layer of batter on top, so 425°F it is. Also, butter an 8-inch cake pan.
Make fruit layer. We’ve covered this in detail in our go-to peach cake recipe, so, if you need the details, you can check out that post. Here, we’ll do a quick rundown. Peel and slice peaches, placing them in the buttered pan in an even layer. Sprinkle the (2/3 cup) sugar over the top, followed by the nutmeg, if using, and the lemon zest. Drizzle the lemon juice on top, and sprinkle everything with about a tablespoon of flour. Finally, melt the butter (we use the microwave in short bursts), and drizzle again. Set aside while you make the batter.
Grind almonds. Place the almonds, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Turn it on and let it run until the almonds are ground. Not so long that you get almond paste, or, even worse, almond butter. By the way, it’s good to have a few small pieces of almonds; this is a rustic cake.
Add flour. Add the half-cup of flour to the almond mixture and pulse to combine. That’s it for the dry ingredients, so let’s work on the liquid.
Whisk liquid ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, milk, melted butter (again, put that microwave to good use), and almond extract. Mmm. that extract smells good, huh? That’s why we use it.
Stir in dry ingredients. Pour the almond mixture on top and stir it in until it’s just mixed. You can use a whisk, but we prefer a spatula, since we’ll use that to scrape out the batter, anyway.
Spread batter. Pour the batter over the cake, smoothing and scraping as needed to cover all the fruit mixture. It’s okay if not all of it gets covered, as we’ll flip the cake over later, anyway.
Bake. Into the oven, on a rack in the middle. Let the cake bake about 25 to 35 minutes, or until quite brown and the cake springs back when touched, and the tell-tale test of a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool. Let cool on a rack for about 10 minutes. While cooling, run a sharp knife around the edge.
Flip. Place a plate upside-down over the top, grasp cake and plate together (use hot pads), and, in one quick, sure motion, flip it over so the cake drops out. Let cool a bit more before serving.
This is an easy, and, as nearly as we can tell, an almost fool-proof cake. While we really like this cake made with just all-purpose flour, we think we like this rustic version better. In fact, we were originally going to use white whole-wheat flour in place of the all-purpose for something a bit more rustic, but we worried that it might be too much. Now, after making it, we think we should have used the whole-wheat to add a bit more of a nutty flavor and more texture to the cake. Ah, there’ll be a next time. Five hand-cut pressed-tin stars.