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Joy of Baking

Peach cake

August 27, 2008
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Makes 1 cake

A fresh peach cake baked with native fruits should be glistening, buttery, and aromatic. This is a time-honored recipe from my childhood kitchen, tweaked a bit. My mother used this base for sweet-tart plums, pitted cherries, and peaches. It begins with a lightly spicy mixing-bowl batter that's scooped into a baking pan and topped with a tumble of peaches. As the cake bakes, the peach slices soften and their juices bubble and turn jammy while the cake puffs up around the edges and between the fruit. It is best served very fresh, within an hour or two after emerging from the oven. The cake is so simple to put together, you'll wonder how you made summer desserts without it.

1 1/2cups flour
1 1/2teaspoons baking powder
1/2teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4teaspoon ground allspice
1/8teaspoon salt
2tablespoons finely chopped or ground walnuts
1/2cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
7tablespoons granulated sugar
2egg yolks
1/2cup whole milk
1teaspoon vanilla extract
3large firm, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and thickly sliced
2tablespoons granulated sugar sifted with 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Confectioners' sugar (for sprinkling)
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Butter a 9- or 9 1/2-inch springform pan.

2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Stir in the walnuts.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, 7 tablespoons granulated sugar, egg yolks, milk, and vanilla. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture to form a moist, soft, batterlike dough.

4. Scrape the dough into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

5. In a medium bowl, lightly toss the peaches with the sugar-cornstarch mixture. Spoon the peaches on top of the dough.

6. Bake the cake for 35 minutes or until it rises and sets and the cake peeking through the peaches is golden brown.

7. Set the cake on a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Carefully unlock the springform hinge and lift off the ring. Leave to cool completely.

8. Sprinkle the cake with confectioners' sugar. Use a serrated knife to cut slices. Lisa Yockelson

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