KITCHEN NOTES: Recipe Development::Almond Peach Cake

"What do you think?", I asked my husband as he cleaned his plate.

"It's good", he says.

"That's it?", I reply.

"Can I have more?", he asks.

I guess I'll take that as my answer, although I would have liked a little more input. Which flavour stood out more? What was the overall texture? You know, questions that are important to know when coming up with a new recipe. Having another opinion helps. So, when I asked what I should change for next time, aside from reducing the baking time, he replied "Nothing. It's perfect as is." I can work with that, but I'm not one to simply leave things as they are - particularly when it comes to desserts.

Originally, I called this cake "Cake Inspired by Summer". At least that's how it's written in my journal. For some reason, I find myself experimenting with a new recipe shortly before it starts to get dark, which means that step-by-step photos are few. In this instance, it was after 18,30h when I gathered together the ingredients and started to measure and write down the quantities of each ingredient.

This recipe started out as a desire to have a simple Summer cake using the dozen or so apples that are scattered about in the refrigerator. Instead, I decided to use one of the three peaches that were starting to soften. They were still mostly firm - I'd just bought them two days before but had left them in the paper bag together (touching each other as they shouldn't be) so a few started to bruise.

These were local peaches - from Fredericksburg. Sweet and delicious. I looked up the "PEACHES" section in The Flavor Bible and selected a few choices of flavours that would compliment the peaches: almonds, cream, rum, and brown sugar. I used the white rum but think that perhaps I should have added one tablespoon to the batter and the other to the peaches.

As the butter was mixing with the caster sugar in the stand mixer, I walked away from the counter to my journal to jot down a few notes. A moment later I heard a subtle cracking sound.

"What was that?", my husband asked. I turned to find that one of the eggs had rolled off the counter and splattered on the floor. My husband suggested that I simply scoop it up and use it. Did I? No. I threw it away, cleaned up the floor, and took another egg out of the refrigerator and placed it in a cup of warm water to quickly bring it up to as close to room temperature as possible before I had to add it to the butter and sugar.

I have the tendency to overthink my work. I strive for perfection knowing that the state of perfection does not exist. Despite the overbaking, the cake was delicate and flavourful.

I will be making it again soon - with a few minor changes.


Almond Peach Cake

one 8-inch cake



1 peach, diced

2 tablespoons white rum (I used Oronoco)

1 tablespoon dark muscavado sugar

170 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

150 grams caster sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

150 grams cake flour

125 grams almond meal (finely ground almonds)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

30 ml heavy whipping cream



Heat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine the diced peaches, rum, and dark muscavado sugar. Set aside.

Butter bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment round and butter that as well.

In bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and caster sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (5 or more minutes), scraping down sides of bowl as needed. In the meantime, prepare other ingredients.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, almond meal, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

To the fluffy butter and sugar mixture add the eggs, one at a time, and mix just until combined.

Reduce mixer speed to low and alternate adding the flour mixture with the cream, starting with a third of the flour mixture and ending with the cream.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Top with the drunken peaches.

Bake for 45 minutes (I baked this for 52 minutes and it was too long), or until skewer inserted in middle comes out with a few crumbs attached. Remove cake from oven and let cool on a wire rack. We waited until the following morning to eat it.


THE NOTES (as jotted down in my blue journal):

What started out as a light Summer apple cake, turned into a delicious almond peach cake. The intention was the same - simple and flavourful. If you're patient to wait until the following day to eat the cake, you'll notice that the flavours have had a chance to develop further. Coffee and cake. Perfect for a warm Summer breakfast.

Changes I would try for next time:

* Reduce baking time. I baked the cake for 52 minutes at which point the sides started to brown more than desired. In reality, I was outside watering the herbs in their containers and didn't monitor the oven. I will try 45 minutes next time.

* Reduce sugar and salt. I know that I wrote this down in the journal, but I'm not sure I'd touch the sugar next time. Perhaps I will reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon salt.

* Make more moist. I need to experiment with this challenge - more butter, more eggs? I'm guessing that reducing the baking time will help with this, so I might not make any changes to the eggs and butter for the second version.

* Substitute cake flour. The cake needed more structure. It wasn't too bad but I'll need to experiment with a higher protein flour.

* Use whole milk instead of cream. Perhaps use 3 tablespoons of whole milk instead of the 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Might also contribute to the moistness.

* Reduce almond meal/increase flour. Also need to experiment with this change for next time. Perhaps 175 grams cake flour and 100 grams almond meal.

* Add rum to batter and peaches. Next time I will see what the difference will be when I split the rum between the batter and the peaches.