There is nothing in the world that screams summer to me more than a peach. The way it smells, the way it tastes, the luscious texture, the overabundance when they’re in season. A few years ago, Marcusand I decided that we were going to try to buy all of our fruit locally that year. We had been buying almost all of our vegetables locally for several years and we wanted to take it to the next level. Of course, that would be the year that a late freeze in April, after several unseasonably hot weeks, killed off all of our plans for fruit that year. We went to ridiculous efforts to save our strawberries that involved wrapping our beds in plastic and putting lights out to keep it warm enough not to freeze. But local farmers around here couldn’t do that and the 23 degree nights devastated farmers all over the southeast. That summer was a lean year on the fruit front. We had our miracle strawberries and we had melons but that was it. Without peaches, the summer just didn’t seem the same. So every year since, we’ve gorged ourselves silly on local peaches. I like yellow peaches best but any local peach will taste so much better than peaches trekked in from hundred of miles away.
I always buy too many peaches and end up with some that are going a little soft around the edges. This cake is a great way to use them up. I really loved this recipe. It’s a very light, eggy, sweet cornbread with a deliciously buttery peach layer on top. Next time I make it, I’m going to wedge in even more peaches – this cake can handle it.
Peach and Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3 medium ripe peaches (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled, pitted, and cut into 3/4-inch wedges
1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal or polenta
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt three tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Make sure to swirl butter up on sides so that they’re coated. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar evenly over bottom of skillet. Sugar will start to bubble and turn a golden-brown color – this will take about three minutes.
Arrange peaches in a circle around the edges of the skillet. Arrange the rest of the peach wedges in the center. Reduce heat to low and cook until the peaches are soft and the juices are bubbling. This will take around ten minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Using a mixer on high speed beat the remaining stick of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar until mixture is fluffy and pale. This will take about three minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time allowing each egg to be fully incorporated before adding the other. Scrape down the sides of bowl and add the vanilla and cream. Reduce speed to low and add half the cornmeal mixture. Scrap down sides and add the rest of the cornmeal mixture and mix thoroughly.
Drop large spoonfuls of batter over the peaches and spread the batter evenly over them using a spatula. Bake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. This will be 20 to 22 minutes. In my oven, it took 25 minutes. Place skillet on a wire rack for ten minutes and then run a knife around the edges of the cake. Do the next movement quickly – Invert cake onto a large plate or cutting board and tap the bottom of the skillet to release the peaches. Carefully remove skillet – you may need to reposition the peaches on the top. Let cool slightly and serve.
This is my entry for week two of Summerfest. Join in the fun!