Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Peach Crumb Cake
Peaches, you are delicious. The only problem I have with you, peaches, is that people always want to talk about you the same way: as the summer fruit, eaten standing over the sink, juice dripping down arms, sticky faces. Which of course, peaches, is the best way to eat the first of you, early in August at the beginning of your harvest. But what about later?
What about in early September, when my sticky-face, juicy-arm peach gorge is starting to feel a bit cliché? Well, peaches, that's when I start to think about how delicious you can be when cooked. Sometimes I grill you and plop a bit of ice cream down at your side. Simmered down into jam or tucked into a cake, your sweet tartness deepens and cools, rather like the turning season, and I realize yet again that you can be a fall fruit, too.
Peach Crumb Cake
Makes nine 2 1/2 inch square pieces
From Gourmet, August 1993
I found the crumb topping on this cake to be very thick. If you wanted to, you could cut it down to 3/4 the amounts listed and I bet you'd still get the same effect. This cake kept, covered, for a few days at room temperature, though the crumb topping is the crunchiest on the first day. I also know from experience that it is excellent for breakfast, so just take that into consideration when planning your next brunch, mmkay?
First, make the topping:
1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup (packed) brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine all ingredients and mash with a fork until well combined and crumbly. Set aside.
Then, make the cake:
1 stick softened unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup AP flour plus a couple of tablespoons for flouring the pan
3/4 teaspoon double acting baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 large peaches (about a pound and a half) peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8x8 inch cake pan, then add a couple tablespoons of flour and shake and tap it all around so the pan has a layer of flour clinging to the butter.
In a mixer or by hand, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Sift (or whisk) together the flour, baking powder and salt, and add them to the wet ingredients, beat just until combined. Spread the batter evenly in the pan.
Layer the sliced peaches evenly across the surface of the batter, then top with the crumb topping. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the cake 180 degrees for even baking and bake another 20-30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.