It’s peak peach season! Optimal time to make this ultra-moist sweet peach cake. Ripe fresh peaches are quickly blanched, skinned, then sautéed in brown butter and sugar. A whole peach is chopped and folded into the batter, for double peach delight!
There’s a secret ingredient in this cake. Don’t be afraid!
I discovered a traditional Brazilian treat, cornmeal cake, a sweet cake often served with coffee. That is the base of this peach cake, loosely adapted from this recipe here. The cornmeal in the cake base lends texture and a subtle flavor that contrasts the sweetness of the peaches quite nicely.
The cake is baked, then set to cool in the fridge. While the cake bakes, the peaches are prepared on the stovetop. Once the cake is cool, the peaches are layered on top in whatever pattern or arrangement suits your fancy. The cake adorned with peaches is then set back in the fridge for an hour, where the buttery sugary juices of the peaches slowly seep into the crumb of the cake, creating that delectable moisture and permeating peach flavor.
Use a 9″ round cake pan for this recipe. You can make this for a party with friends, or just for yourself. It keeps extremely well and even holds up when left out on the counter overnight.
For gluten free and dairy free alternatives to the original recipe, scroll down to the recipe notes. A few simple substitutions turn this cake into a gluten and/or dairy free delight!
For the Cake
- 2 eggs.
- 1/4 cup canola oil.
- 1/2 cup milk.
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.
- 1 cup granulated sugar.
- 1/2 cup regular cornmeal (not coarse).
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.
- 1/2 tablespoon baking powder.
- Pinch salt.
For the Peaches:
- Five ripe peaches, washed clean and patted dry.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter.
- 3 tablespoon granulated sugar.
- Heat the oven to 325. Line a 9″ round cake pan with parchment on the bottom.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. As soon as the water boils, prep an ice bath in a separate pot by adding lots of ice and cold water. Fill the pot about halfway (enough to cover all five peaches). Score the bottom of the peaches with a small X. Using a pair of tongs, drop the peaches into the boiling water for about one minute.
- Remove peaches from boiling water using tongs and add directly into ice bath. Wait about 5 minutes. Remove peaches from water and set out to dry. Remove the skin from one peach by gently pushing away at the X mark. Dice the skinned peach and set aside. Leave the four remaining peaches until a later time.
- In a large clean bowl, add all dry ingredients. Sift in baking powder and flour. Whisk together to combine.
- In a medium-sized clean bowl, add all wet ingredients. Whisk vigorously by hand to combine. Bubbles should appear on the surface.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Whisk vigorously by hand to combine. Batter should be smooth.
- Add the one chopped peach to the batter. Fold in with a spatula.
- Pour batter into cake pan. Bake in oven for about 35 minutes. (Baking times vary. Check cake at 30 minute mark. Insert toothpick. If toothpick comes out clean, cake is done. If not, leave in for another five minutes. The top will brown considerably, as there is a large amount of sugar in the cake.)
- While the cake is baking, prepare the peaches. Skin the remaining four peaches and slice into about 1/4″ thickness. Keep the slices nice and uniform, as these will be going on top of the cake.
- In a large sauté pan, add 4 tablespoons butter. Let melt. When it begins to bubble and emits a nutty aroma, add sugar. Stir to combine. Then add peaches in a single layer.
- Let peaches cook for about 5-7 minutes over medium heat. They should be soft and caramelized but not falling apart. Remove from pan and set aside (I like to use a pyrex for this). Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
- When cake is finished cooking in oven, turn out onto cooling rack. Let cool in refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Remove from fridge and level the cake, using a large serrated bread knife to even out the surface of the cake. The easiest way to do this is to place the knife level, then gently cut across.
- Arrange peaches in a circular pattern, working from the outside in. Use the best-looking slices of peach first, then fill in the gaps with the smaller slices. Set in fridge for about an hour. This will allow the juices from the peach to absorb into the cake.
- Slice and serve! Whipped cream optional.
TO MAKE GLUTEN FREE: Replace flour with Gluten Free AP Flour. Available from Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur or Trader Joe’s! To be safe, ensure the cornmeal package you use says Gluten Free. Cornmeal, by nature, is gluten free, but you never know what may be added in certain products.
TO MAKE DAIRY FREE: Use unsweetened almond milk in place of the milk in recipe. Use vegan butter in pan with peaches.