World on a Plate

Exploring culture. One plate at a time.

Month: June, 2013

Peach Pecan Pound Cake

A tongue twister of the most southern kind…

While rooting around for ideas for a simple summer fruit dessert for a dinner party I came across a peach pound cake in Southern Living.  Frankly, it made me anxious.  Not the ingredients, although peach schnapps is a little out of the ordinary.  It was the methodology. Pound cake is simple but there are small tips that will guarantee success.

All ingredients need to be of the best quality you can source.

Bring all butter, eggs to room temperature–it takes about 30-45 minutes. Really, this makes a huge difference.

Cream the butter and sugar together so the finished cake is fluffy and light.

And the final step that I take is one that will probably make many wonder.  Start the baking time in a cold oven.  That’s right, fill the pans, pop in the oven then turn the oven on. Bake for about an hour, test with a toothpick and when clean pull out from the oven. There are many bakers who say this is true with older ovens or less professional-quality ovens (apartment ovens!) as the heating begins at the bottom.  Others say it forms a better crust.  All I need to know is that since I started using these tips and this technique my results are consistent. It was shared by  Tom Hudgens and his “The Commonsense Kitchen”  during a butter making class.

So while I liked the idea of the original magazine recipe, I needed to make it my own by altering the method, adding honey, pecans (how Southern is that?) and cinnamon. Inspiration arrives in many forms.

peach pecan pound cake

Peach Pecan Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups AP  flour
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups butter, softened, cubed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup peach schnapps
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups diced fresh peaches (skins can remain)
  • 2/3 cup pecans broken into smaller pieces

Method

Do not preheat oven.  Butter and flour dust 2 loaf pans or a large bundt pan.  Tap the pan/s to remove excess flour.

In a bowl combine flour, cinnamon and mix  together. Set aside.  Take a generous pinch or two of the flour mix and sprinkle and toss over the diced peaches.  This will prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom.

In separate bowl combine peach schnapps, milk, vanilla and honey.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together, until the mixture is cohesive, light in color and fluffy.

Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon alternately mix in the eggs. Now add the milk-peach schnapps liquids and the flours by hand in 3-4 additions, blending in each addition only partially before adding the next one.  Mix until just combined so as  not to overmix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, speading evenly. Each pan/s should be filled about two-thirds full.

Place in cold oven.  Turn oven on to 325F.  Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cook in pan for 15 minutes; turn out cake on to a rack.

notes:

~if you don’t have cake flour just use AP flour instead.

~to finish the cake dust with confectioner’s sugar or make a lemon icing and drizzle over the top (mix 1 cup confectioner’s sugar with 2-4 teaspoons lemon juice depending on the consistency sought).

~serve on it’s own or with vanilla ice cream

Apricot-Almond Cake

20130614-233533.jpg

                                             

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
13 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 apricots, cut in half and pitted, then cut the halves again
1/4 cup slivered almonds mixed together with 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease and lightly flour with cornmeal an 8″ round cake pan or an 8″ springform pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale yellow and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula adding the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and blend by hand until just combined. Don’t use mixer as that’s will probably cause the batter to toughen. Gentle fold the dry ingredients into the batter.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. It’ll be thick so use the back of a soon to spread it out to the edges. Place the apricot halves, skin side down, at even intervals on top of the batter. Sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top of the cake followed by the brown sugar on top of the fruit and batter. I placed them just enough apart that when cut into 8 pieces everyone had a piece of apricot. You could leave use more fruit. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.

Notes

Original recipe calls for plums, you could also use peaches with the skins on.

Although I haven’t tried this I am pretty confident that replacing the AP flour with almond meal flour would taste quite good–and gluten free.