PEACHY: Canned Fruit in the Winter
What’s a girl to do? “What kind of cake should I bake today,” she wonders aloud. “Oh, please! Just not chocolate again! Anything but chocolate! How about fruit?” he responds, panic rising in his voice.
Winter fruit? Apples, pears, citrus? Same old, same old (not really, but I like that phrase…). He does love canned peaches and keeps a stack of them in the cupboard. After all, his mother used them in tarts. I am not the kind of person that freezes summer fruit to use all winter, mainly because I just do not have the freezer space (again, those damn French appliances). So I thought that I would just peruse the old cookbooks to see what popped up.
I used to make a wonderful Upside Down Cake using pears in the winter and peaches in the summer. But I like trying out new recipes in a cookbook Clem gave to me for my birthday a year or two ago, Desserts (originally published as Sweet Food in Australia but translated by Marabout for their series of cute little themed cookbooks). Of course, the photo accompanying the recipe looks divine; glossy peaches nestled in a thick, moist cake. And the name of the cake is given as Moelleux aux Pêches et au Caramel : a moelleux being an incredibly soft, moist, dense cake and this with peaches and caramel. Looked promising. So I pulled out all of the ingredients – as I said, hubby had several cans of peaches in the cupboard – and then went to look for the appropriate pan. Hmmm … no indication of pan size in the recipe. Well, judging from the photo, the number of peaches on the cake and the thickness of the cake itself, I guessed that my best bet would be my 8 ½” springform pan.
Never judge a cake by it’s cover : Though the cake rose beautifully, the center was not cooked at all. I left it in the oven long enough that only a small area was uncooked, but it was really uncooked. But luckily the rest of the cake did indeed remain dense and moist and really delicious. Delicious enough for me to want to try it again.
I also made the mistake of using a springform pan; the butter/sugar combo melted and oozed out onto the bottom of my oven where it burned. The next time I won’t melt the butter and then add the sugar (which then melted immediately on contact with the hot butter which then began to immediately leak out of the pan), rather I will blend the brown sugar with softened butter like a streusel topping without the flour.
The cake was really gorgeous, the perfect cake for breakfast or a coffee break : it was moist and dense and just barely sweet, the fruit adding a zing of sweetness to each mouthful. The canned peaches could easily be replaced with ripe fresh peaches, nectarines or plums or any other canned, jarred or frozen fruit; pineapple slices, nectarines or apricots, cherries or blueberries.
I will give the original recipe here, then you’ll find the tweaked version with cherries (mmmmm!) on a follow-up post.
PEACH UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
For caramel topping :
2 Tbs (60 g) unsalted butter, melted
4 Tbs (60 g) soft brown sugar
For the cake :
1 large can (about 27 ½ oz, 875 g undrained) peach halves, drained, 1 Tbs of the juice reserved
13 ½ Tbs (200 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup + 1 Tbs (8 ½ oz, 250 g) sugar
½ tsp ground cardamom or 1 Tbs finely grated lemon zest (optional)
3 large eggs
2 cups (310 g) self-rising flour –or- same amount cake flour + 2 ½ tsps baking powder and ¾ tsp salt
1 cup (250 ml) natural yogurt (I used 0% fat fromage frais which is like sour cream, only less sour)
1 Tbs reserved peach juice (see above)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Melt the butter and pour it into an 8 ½” to 10” (22 cm to 25 cm) cake pan. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the butter.
Lay the peach halves, cut side up, in the pan.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add the sugar and the cardamom or zest, if using, and beat with an electric beater for about 5 minutes, allowing the mixture to lighten.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a minute between each addition.
Unless using self-rising flour, stir the flour, baking powder and salt together. With a metal or silicone spatula, blend the flour into the batter in three additions, alternating with the yogurt in two. Stir in the reserved tablespoon of peach juice. Make sure it is all well blended.
Gently scrape the batter, which is fairly thick, over the peaches and carefully spread it evenly in the pan and smooth the top, being careful not to disturb the fruit.
Bake the cake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until the center is set. Watch the time carefully! It could take as little as an hour or as much as 1 hour 30 or 40 minutes depending on the pan size and your oven. The top should be a lovely, deep golden brown but not burned!
Remove from the oven onto a cooling rack and allow to cool 30 minutes before turning it out onto a serving platter (if the cake is still too warm, turn it out onto a rack to finish cooling).