When you truly come to think of it, a peach is truly anything but humble. A plump, ripe, juicy peach is heavy in sweet scent and flavor, slightly giving to a gentle touch as it sits, golden and – yes – fuzzy in the palm of your hand. A good peach is just downright voluptuous. When it comes to fruit, I may be a big fan of most berries – but the crowning glory in my eye is none other than the peach. I love peach pie, peach iced tea, peach juice, peach crumble, peach cobbler… I enjoy a good peach simply on its own!
This week’s Baked Sunday Mornings selection turns the traditional pineapple upside-down cake on its ear by swapping out pineapple rings with fresh peaches and a smoky touch of whiskey, in Baked’s lovely, scrumptious Whiskey Peach Upside-Down Cake. It may just be one of my favorite recipes our group of bloggers has made so far from the Baked boys’ newest book, Baked Elements.
To begin with, I purchased my peaches from a local fruit stand that is near where I work. To quickly ripen peaches, all you need to do is set them gently in a paper bag. Make sure that you place them stem tops down; peaches like to rest on their ‘shoulders’. Loosely fold the top of the bag down, and set the bag of peaches in a cool, darker spot for a day or two. The peaches emit gases within the bag which speed the ripening process. If you wish to speed up the ripening, add a banana to the bag. If you wish to halt or slow a peach from ripening, pop it in the fridge! Simple as that! I often grow rather impatient when ripening peaches – and honestly, it’s a real pain when your peaches feel ripe to the touch, but then cling stubbornly to the damn pit when you cut them open. They should give a little under the skin when pressed with your finger; but don’t press to hard or you will cause an unsightly bruise. Indeed, peaches can be finicky little buggers, but if you are fortunate to nab a good sweet and juicy bunch of them, you’ve struck gold!
While this recipe doesn’t explicitly state to do so, I peeled my peaches for this cake and sliced them into relatively thin crescents. These slices are bedded down in a 9-inch cake pan on top of a thick layer of buttery, dark brown sugar caramel spiked with whiskey. I used Knob Creek, one of my favorite whiskeys to bake with. A sheet of parchment is first fitted into the bottom of the cake pan, prior to spreading down the caramel, for eventual easy release of the upside-down cake.
Whipping up the cake batter involved a couple steps and bowls, but the end result was totally worth it. Butter and sugar are creamed together before adding in 3 egg yolks and mixing well while adding the irresistible flavoring trio of vanilla extract, almond extract (which goes wonderfully with peaches), and even more whiskey. The whiskey is combined with buttermilk and added alternatively with the dry ingredients to keep the cake batter light. 2 egg whites are then whipped separately to soft peaks, then gently folded into the cake batter to lighten the cake even further. All of this is carefully poured over the peach layer in the cake pan, then baked in the oven for about 50 minutes until the top of the cake domes slightly and is a uniform, deep golden brown. Do not worry if the cake is borderline burnt on top – while you certainly don’t want it to cross over into actually being burnt, remember that this will be the ‘bottom crust’ for your cake and therefore, having a little sturdiness to it on top of the plate will assist you later on when plating the servings. Prevent the cake from burning by rotating the pan in the oven while it’s baking, as the recipe suggests.
After a 15-20 minute cool in the pan, the cake – surprisingly – easily released from the pan onto a serving platter after a quick swipe around the edges with a metal offset spatula to loosen the edges. The circular peach design beautifully shown through the thick, gooey, caramel glaze on top, which dropped off in delicious sugary chunks along the edge as it rested on the serving plate. I couldn’t wait to slice into the cake, but impatiently, I let it rest a while longer.
When I was ready to serve up a slice, I found that the cake was wonderfully tender and easy to slice through, along with the ripe, now baked peaches, so the pretty design wasn’t too easily disturbed by the knife. The crumb was buttery and spongy thanks to the buttermilk and whipped egg whites; a perfect, homey base for the decadent, brown-sugared peaches. While the cake could be be cut into 8 wedges easily, I opted to cut one large slice in two for Jake (my boyfriend) and I to share. For those of you who are calorie-conscious out there – as I have been lately (see prior blog) – this cake, at 8 servings, nets about 570 calories a slice (and that’s without a whipped cream or ice cream pairing).
Baked suggests pairing the cake with a whiskey-spiked whipped cream, but I couldn’t resist buying a pint of Whiskey Ice Cream made by our own local Milwaukee-based ice cream company, Purple Door Ice Cream, to accompany this cake. It may sound like *too much* whiskey all told, but let me just say – this decision of mine was divine inspiration. The smoky notes of the whiskey in the peach topping and even the whisper of whiskey in the cake were beautifully accented by this amazingly creamy, jaw-droppingly terrific super-premium ice cream. It was a perfect match – and despite my overly abundant use of words to describe this dessert pairing phenomenon in that last sentence, I was – quite simply – speechless as I took my first bite, incorporating cake and caramelized peaches with a creamy, cold slather of whiskey ice cream. Yummy, indeed.
To give a further shout-out to this wonderful local business, please take a little internet detour from my blog for a sec and visit Purple Door Ice Cream’s website: Purple Door Ice Cream. I really cannot say enough about them – if you’re looking for hand-crafted, creamy, dense, perfectly-flavored ice creams (as in: not overdoing the flavoring, it’s honestly just enough) incorporating local ingredients, Purple Door Ice Cream is the place for you. I recently celebrated my weight loss by stopping in at their store for a scoop of ice cream! I opted for a scoop of the Chai-Pink Peppercorn, and it was amazing… as is the Chocolate Guatemalan Roast. It may be a touch dangerous that I am only now discovering their ice cream as I am trying to watch my figure! Seriously though – local folks, you will fast become a fan. Please visit these wonderful ice cream purveyors and support your local food businesses. What’s even more awesome? If you purchase a pint of their ice cream in stores (I found it in Outpost Natural Foods), 10 cents of your purchase goes toward Milk for Milwaukee, a community initiative to provide fresh milk to area homeless shelters. How wonderful is that? (They also recently hired my sister, Donna Landwehr, as their Catering and Events Coordinator – further proof that these are pretty smart, savvy people running this business!)
If you’d like to make your own fabulous Whiskey Peach Upside-Down, courtesy of Baked, I highly suggest you follow this link:
…where the recipe is, of course, located – and also where you can follow the “leave your links” page to read how my fellow bakers fared. If you’re a peach fan and even further, a proponent of whiskey paired with said peaches, this is one recipe you don’t want to miss.
Until next time, when I tackle a Mile-High Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream (wow… yes, this is indeed what is slated for September 1st), Happy Peach Season to you all!