Thursday, August 5, 2010
Recipe: Peach Cake
I have been much more myself lately, seeinf friends and getting things done (indeed, some might argue that I've swung in the distinct direction of mania!) Among other recent projects, I made a cake from my new favorite cookbook, The Craft of Baking. The author, Karen DeMasco, is the pastry chef at Locanda Verde, and the sweets I had there were so scrumptious that I was moved to request her book for my birthday. While the cover features a "Lamington Cupcake" that would look appetizing only to an antipodean, the rest of the photographs are as mouth-watering as one could wish, and everything I've made has been delicious.
I had some ripe peaches rapidly attracting fruit-flies (yummy, I know) so I decided to adapt her recipe for Caramelized-Apple Skillet Cake. I used peaches (obviously) used brown rather than white sugar for a more traditional upside-down cake effect and, because I always want more of the topping and fruit no matter hjow delicious the cake, I doubled that and added a layer mid-batter. I don't want to sound like one of those jackasses on Epicurious who changes absolutely everything; rest assured, the cake is all hers and it was the cake that, in its moistness and flavor, was really revelatory!
Peach Skillet Cake
Adapted from Karen DeMasco's "The Craft of Baking"
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used light)
10 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
4 ripe peaches, peeled
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal or fine polenta
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup whole milk
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In an 8-inch ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, combine brown sugar with 4 tablespoons water, stirring to make sure all of the sugar is damp.
Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and bubbling. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in 4 tablespoons of the butter. Pour half the brown sugar mixture into another bowl; reserve [if you don't want to do my second layer thing, just skip this step and halve the caramel.]
Slice the peaches and arrange half of them over the caramel in the pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, the remaining 6 tablespoons butter, and the vanilla. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg yolks, one at a time.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In three additions, add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, to the butter mixture. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into a large bowl.
Clean and dry the bowl of the electric mixer well. Add the egg whites and, using the whisk attachment on medium speed, beat to soft peaks, about 4 minutes. In three additions, fold the whites into the batter.
Spread half the batter evenly over the peaches in the skillet. Add the rest of the fruit and the reserved brown sugar. Cover with remaining batter.
Bake, rotating the skillet halfway through, until the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch, 45 to 50 minutes. Place the skillet on a wire rack and let it cool just until the cake is warm, about 30 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.
The cake is best eaten the day it is baked but can be kept at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.