Peaches and Cream Cake
I’m back! With about thirty new mosquito bites and one PhD!
As you can imagine, I’ve had an eventful break from blogging…
After 7 years (!) of grad school, last Friday I passed my dissertation defense. (You may now call me “Dr.” but you might be one of the only people calling me that, since my PhD is in linguistics.)
The weekend before that, my little sister Jess got married.
Her wedding was beautiful. The ceremony was on a sunny hilltop in the countryside, and Wisconsin was looking greener than ever. (Or at least I thought so anyway, coming from drought-stricken California.)
The wedding was practically perfect in every way (just like Mary Poppins), except for the mosquitoes, but I’m not going to talk about those anymore, or my ankles will start itching all over again…
I was impressed with how calm my sister seemed all day (especially considering the weather forecast for her outdoor wedding: thunderstorms). Despite being three years younger than me, she’s always been more like the older sister when it comes to things like… common sense, and true to form, she was as level-headed as ever, even on her wedding day.
With no one else around at the precise moment Jess was changing in to her wedding dress, I got chosen by default for the honor of fastening up the back of her dress. I only managed to do this with the help of her very patient instructions, and one cell phone photograph of how she wanted the bow. (And even then I couldn’t latch one of the hooks so her photographer had to step in and help me — at least there will be no photographic evidence that that ever happened!)
I had several favorite moments of the night. At dinner, my mom gave a beautiful toast that had everyone in tears. Just before the dancing started, there were fireworks! (If we tried having fireworks at our Santa Barbara wedding, we would probably start Santa Barbara on fire…) Paula and I did more drinking than dancing, but at one point she leaned over to me and said, of my sister and her new husband’s mutual friend who had officiated the wedding, “that rabbi can dance!”
I also really enjoyed the family reunion weekend surrounding the wedding. Paula met many of my relatives for the first time. And we got to visit with family and friends, including the friends who will be officiating our wedding later this summer!
The real downpour of rain at Jess’s wedding didn’t start until right after the fireworks had ended and all of the guests were tucked under the covered pavilion of the dance floor. Perfect timing.
After the wedding, the ongoing storm left us sloshing up the hill in the cold rain to run back to our car, soaking our shoes — I think mine still haven’t dried and will need to be tossed — a dramatic end to a wonderful night.
I’m so happy for my sister. (She and her new husband first got together over a decade ago, back in high school, so it was about time they made it official!)
So before I get back to real life by diving into some savory summer cooking (or rather savory summer NOT-cooking, since summer is counter-intuitively the season of the least cooking but the best eating…), this week I thought it’d be more appropriate to share a celebratory cake.
After all, there are so many reasons to celebrate. My sister’s wedding. My linguistics PhD. (And my friend Brendan’s PhD — we started and finished our 7-year graduate program on the same days!) And besides all of that, at some point during my two weeks off from blogging, Spontaneous Tomato surpassed 5,000 followers. YAY, thank you!
This summery celebration cake is the perfect way to put your stone fruit to good use. The top layer is an almond-yogurt nectarine/peach upside-down cake. The bottom layer uses that same basic cake dough — soft, light, not too sweet, and not too dry thanks to the yogurt, ground almonds, and a hint of almond extract — all smeared with a thick coating of sweet fresh whipped cream, topped with slices of fresh stone fruit.
Of course you could also make TWO upside-down cakes and layer them, with whipped cream in between them and the prettier one on top — just follow the instructions for the top layer twice, and make sure you have enough ripe peaches and/or nectarines. Or you could make two basic bottom layers, double the whipped cream, and spread whipped cream in the middle and over the top, setting fresh fruit into each layer. I love the sweetness of the baked fruit, though — it seeps into the cake along with the buttery brown sugar upside-down-cake topping.
This cake is the perfect balance of fancy and rustic. With the layer of whipped cream, it reminds me of an almondy strawberry shortcake, but with peaches… though I bet this would be nice with fresh strawberries set into the whipped cream, too.
To summer! To Jess and Natan! And to the end of grad school!
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Peaches and Cream Cake
(Layered stone fruit upside-down cake)
(Upside-down cake adapted from this recipe.)
Active time: 40 minutes; Total time: 2½ hours (includes cooling time).
Cake Ingredients (Makes 2 round 9″-cake layers):
~ 2¼ cup flour
~ ¾ cup ground almonds (use almond meal or pulse almonds in food processor with some of the flour)
~ 3 tsp. baking powder
~ ¾ tsp. salt
~ 1½ sticks butter, softened (plus more for greasing the pans)
~ 1 cup + 1 Tbsp. sugar
~ 3 eggs
~ 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
~ ½ tsp. almond extract
~ 1 cup + 2 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt (full fat)
Additional ingredients for the top layer (upside-down) cake:
~ 3-4 Tbsp. butter, melted
~ ⅓ cup brown sugar
~ 4 ripe peaches and/or nectarines, sliced into 8 wedges each
For the filling in between layers:
~ 1 cup heavy whipping cream
~ 1½ Tbsp. sugar
~ 2-3 ripe peaches and/or nectarines, thinly sliced
Special equipment needed:
~ two round 9″ cake pans
~ two circles of parchment paper cut to fit cake pans
How to make it:
1. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and pre-heat to 300 degrees. Use butter to grease the bottom and sides of each 9″ cake pan, then set the parchment circles into the pans. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt, then set aside.
2. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the softened butter and sugar together for 4 minutes, until fluffy. Then beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla and almond extracts. Finally, beat in the dry flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the Greek yogurt.
3. To make the upside-down cake (top layer) topping: pour the melted butter into one of the cake pans, and tilt to coat the pan. Then sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the melted butter. Arrange the fruit wedges in a circular pattern over the brown sugar, starting from the outer ring first. Use a rubber spatula to gently dollop half of the cake batter over the fruit, spreading it out evenly, without disturbing the arrangement of the fruit wedges. Spread the other half of the cake batter into the other greased 9″ pan.
4. Bake both cakes for about 1 hour: after the first 50 minutes, turn the oven temperature up to 350 degrees so the cakes become golden brown on top. You’ll know it’s done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Your layers might have different baking times if they are different thicknesses, but they will likely be done somewhere in the range of 55-65 minutes.)
5. Let both layers cool in their pans on racks for 30 minutes. Then for each one, use a knife to loosen around the edges of the pan, cover the pan with a plate, and invert the cake onto the plate. (I recommend greasing one of the plates with butter — the one that will temporarily hold the top layer — so the cake won’t stick to the plate as it cools.) Peel off the parchment circles and let cool completely.
6. Assemble the cake: Use an electric mixer to whip the heavy cream until it starts to become sturdy (a freezer-chilled bowl will help speed this along), then sprinkle in the sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form when you stop the mixer and gently lift it out of the whipped cream. (Be careful not to over-whip, or you will accidentally make butter!) Spread the whipped cream over the bottom layer of the cake, then chill it in the fridge while you slice the fruit. Top the whipped cream with fresh sliced fruit, then carefully transfer the upside-down-cake layer onto the top (I used two wide spatulas to gently lift the top layer; you might also want the help of a second person). Serve immediately or store in the fridge until serving.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
Related recipe posts:
|Apricot Almond Galette||Mango Lassi Muffins with Yogurt and Cardamom||Pear or Nectarine
Brown Butter Buckle