Precious Peaches

Summer isn’t over until the peaches are picked, but harvesting is only half of the matter. It might be nothing short of heresy to suggest dressing up the fleeting and scarce supply of fuzzy stone fruits, considering how easy it is to eat even a peck of peaches out of hand.  Nothing beats a perfectly ripe peach, still gently warmed from the sun, savored in fading sunlight while the sticky juices run down your arm. A reward for a hard day’s work, but also a mandatory seasonal experience, fresh peaches need no further enhancement to win over gourmets the world around. We all agree on this, right? So we could stop right here and leave perfectly satisfied, bellies full of unadulterated peaches.

But then we couldn’t share this lightly spiced, tender cake, jam-packed with vibrant peach flavor, could we?

Unfailingly, the sight of such a stunning but simple cake is enough to change the minds of the most staunch peach purists. Reducing the puree down by half concentrates their best qualities and makes the cake’s crumb melt-in-your-mouth tender. Dotted with crisp pecans and topped off with a full blanket of the crunchy nuts, the additional sprinkle of sugar is really just for looks, since the single round layer is perfectly sweet as is.

As summer fades, the peaches too will be left in the past, a bittersweet memory to cling to until the next year. Rather than turn the remaining stash into jam, try baking them into this moist, single layer for an exceptionally tempting treat instead. Sliced and well-wrapped, the cake can be frozen and enjoyed long into the fall and possibly even winter- If you can leave it alone for such a stretch of time, of course.

I never did know when to leave well enough alone. The poor stone fruits never had a chance, no matter how delectable straight from the trees. Maybe another slice of cake might help absolve me for the sin of messing with those perfect peaches.

Southern Peach Cake

Peach Cake:

6 Ripe Peaches
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
2 Cups White Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Toasted and Chopped Pecans
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
2 Tablespoons Bourbon or Rum*
1/2 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Pecan Topping:

1 Cup Raw Pecan Halves
1 Tablespoon Turbinado Sugar

*Poorly stocked liquor cabinet or simply seeking a non-alcoholic option? Substitute 2 tablespoons of water and 1/2 teaspoon rum extract instead.

Pit and puree the peaches along with the lemon juice, and transfer the smooth mixture to a medium saucepan. Gently simmer over medium-low heat until reduced by half. You should end up with approximately 1 1/3 cups of concentrated peach puree when all is said and done. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before proceeding.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease and flour a 9-inch round springform pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Add in the chopped pecans, and toss lightly to coat. This will help prevent the nuts from sinking to the bottom of the cake while baking.

Separately, whisk together the reduced and cooled peach puree, both sugars, oil, bourbon, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour these liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry, and mix gently with a wide spatula, just until the batter comes together smoothly. Don’t over-mix; a few small lumps are fine to leave in the mixture.

Spread the batter in your prepared pan, smoothing it evenly across the whole area, and sprinkle the raw pecans all over the top. Finally, sprinkle the turbindo sugar on as well, taking care to fill any of the uncovered crevasses between the nuts especially.

Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, until the nuts on top are nicely toasted, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake pulls out cleanly. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

Makes 10 – 12 Servings

Printable Recipe

35 thoughts on “Precious Peaches

  1. The last days of summer in a cake – this sounds and looks really good. And it makes me want to have cake – now! (I don’t have any ingredients here though… I will be out of time for 2 months so I used everything before I have to leave!)

  2. Can’t ever go wrong with fresh, ripe peaches with juices running down your arm after the first bite unless you turn them into a scrumptious cake. Yum! :-)

  3. That peach cake sounds amazing! I too have a hard time using peaches in any way besides cut up & shoved directly in my mouth–but I guess I can shove this cake into my mouth pretty well too. :)

  4. Lovely looking cake! I’ll wait for peaches to start appearing here, then will be back to scribble down the recipe.

  5. each of your creations is like a beautiful tale. the ingredients the main characters, princesses with a personality and story:) that is a gorgeous crumb and color!

    1. Sure thing! Walnuts would be my second choice, but hazelnuts or almonds could also be a nice change of pace. If you go with almonds though, I would opt for sliced almonds over the top rather than whole. Happy baking!

  6. Oh my. I may have to force myself to not eat ALL the peaches just this once. The cake is so beautiful, but the cake dish is vying for the spotlight! I want both.

  7. the first picture got me sold. I’m thinking I’ll use the super ripe and soft peaches for this recipe, with walnuts since pecans are difficult for me to get here too. Love your description of them juicy peaches!

  8. I have to admit I tend to eat most peaches straight also but I’m always up for a good peach-infused cake! And the simplicity of this one sounds absolutely ideal!

  9. Peach cake with pecans? wow it really looks delicious and inviting! I wish I could have a slice! It’s hard to find sweet peaches where I live but if I do find them, you can be sure I will give this recipe a go.

    ps. i love that white plate of yours! too cute!

  10. Peaches & pecans–two of my favorite ingredients! The cake is beautiful and I bet it tastes amazing. Fantastic combination!

  11. This cake looks so amazing, Hannah! I tend to like nectarines more, but your description has me craving peaches, and this cake! My husband is going to love that pecan topping too! :-)

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