It’s that time of year again! The students are back in full force, campus is a driver’s (and pedestrian’s) worst nightmare, and I’ve essentially bid adieu to Hubs and told him I’d see him at Christmas. Such is the life of an architecture student’s wife – seeing each other in passing, sleepy hellos and goodbyes, and nights at home alone. It’s cool, though! I’m an only child. I love being alone. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel.
With his long hours in the studio, my guy needs snacks; and the thought of him running to a vending machine for a bag of potato chips and a Mountain Dew sends chills down my spine. So, as I did around this time last year, I set out to make him a snack that’s 1) portable, 2) freezable and 3) exponentially tastier than anything that comes out of a slot in a machine.
I wanted to incorporate a seasonal fruit into Hubs’ studio snacks; lucky for me, I recently came across some beautiful peaches at the market. Now, what to do with them?
A few years ago, I bought myself a copy of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, which is a virtual bible for those who bake, covering everything from petit fours to focaccia to everything in between. There is an especially decadent looking apricot and cherry upside down cake that has always taunted me from the book’s now tattered and stuck together pages. With my recent peach purchase, the gears started to turn.
The apricot and cherry cake was a bit fussy for what I had in mind, using cake flour, almond paste and egg whites in the batter to create a fluffy texture. I was thinking more along the lines of the “dump-n’-stir” technique to keep things fuss-free. I am a busy woman, you know! Very busy. Very important.
My desire to KISS (keep it simple, stupid) led me to a tried-and-true recipe that many of you know, and few of you can resist: pound cake. Traditionally made with a pound of each of the four essential ingredients – flour, sugar, butter and eggs – pound cake is a worldwide phenomenon, from quatre-quarts in France to ponqué in Columbia. Although the recipe I used does not adhere to the customary four pounds (FOUR POUNDS?!) of ingredients, I can assure you the taste will go toe-to-toe with the most customary of pound cakes.
For a traditional upside down cake, the fruit is usually sautéed in butter until lightly browned and syrupy, and placed in the bottom of the cake pan. In an effort to achieve the same effect without the fuss, I opted for a butter/sugar glaze in the bottom of the pan and placed the raw fruit on top. The results were just as delicious, and saved me a little time and elbow grease.
This recipe makes for one delicious, dense, good-sized cake that can feed two people – or one hungry architecture student – over the course of a week. Hubs took a slice or two to studio every morning and munched on them throughout the day, often with a cup of black coffee. From the pictures, you can see I chose to eat mine with Shake’s custard, instead. Hello, my name is Laura, and I am an over-indulger.
Don’t have peaches on hand? Try other fruits, like cherries, raspberries or even bananas. For those who like a nutty crunch, feel free to add pecans, almonds or other nuts to the fruit. As I always say, make it your own – and of course, enjoy!
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Peach Pound Cake
4 medium peaches, pitted and sliced
3 sticks plus 2 Tbs. butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 1/4 cup sugar, separated
2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
6 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 9″ Springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer, beat the 2 tablespoons of butter with 1/4 cup of the sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Spread the butter and sugar mixture evenly over the parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. Arrange the peach slices in the pan and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer, beat the 3 sticks of butter, 1 1/2 cups of sugar and vanilla on medium speed until fluffy and light in color, about 4 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, until combined. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour and beat until just combined.
Pour the batter over the peaches in the Springform pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Place the Springform on a baking sheet to catch any drips, and bake until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about an hour. Leaving the cake in the pan, transfer the cake to a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Open the Springform pan and invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. The cake can be kept at room temperature, covered in plastic, for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to two months.
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