Friday, July 26, 2013

Peach and almond cake

I like baking. Despite a professed not-very-sweet-tooth, the mixing and pouring and measuring is satisfying, And everyone becomes your best friend when you have fresh, real cake...

Reminds me: Charne (Shar-nay) Human and the chocolate cake. Charne had big blue sad eyes and gold hoop earrings before anyone had pierced ears.We were little together at St Michael's, a girls' school  in Bloemfontein. She was Janine Oberholzer's best friend (the best friend business has always flummoxed me -  if you have a best friend, then what are your other friends? Not Quite Good Enough?). Or perhaps I secretly have best friends, but don't tell them, in case I'm not their best friend...the horror.

Charne came over to play a few times. My mom - who baked everything from scratch - bought us a boxed cake mix to bake every time. Then one day Charne rang the doorbell, escorted by her mother, as usual. At the door I confessed: We don't have cake today! And Charne turned on her heel and marched back up the the garden path and through the big doors in the high white wall, and out of my life.

Maybe Janine Oberholzer had more consistent cake. She and Charne remained inseparable.

This cake is Nigel Slater's with my usual, interfering tweaks. I read about it in The Guardian. The photograph made me hungry (it also made the cake look as though the oven may have been too hot!). He calls it a cake for midsummer. I call it incredible. His recipe is wonderful, if super rich.

I changed the quantities to less butter, with the addition of some milk (in other versions I have also used yogurt), and I upped the blueberry content.

I used a hand whisk, as I have no electric mixer. In Brooklyn you are not allowed to have electric mixers, and in fact a churn is preferred for making your own butter from the cow on your roof.

As I say, I whisked, and everything was fine.

I folded in the very last handful of terrace blueberries and used dripping sweet yellow peaches from the market.

Peach and Almond Cake with Blueberries

110g/3.5 oz butter
110g/3.5 sugar
2 large eggs
120g/4 oz self-raising flour (or regular flour + 1.5 teaspoons baking powder)
100g/3.5 oz ground almonds
1/3 cup milk
1 cup blueberries
1 ripe peach, cut into small pieces
a few drops of vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 180'C/350'F. Grease a spring form pan.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat the eggs and add, a little at a time, to the creamed butter and sugar.  If the mixture separates, stir in a tablespoon of the flour.

Fold the flour and almonds into the butter mixture, in two or three separate additions. Add the milk and stir well. Add the vanilla. Last, add the chopped peaches and blueberries. The mixture will be pretty firm by this time. If it is too stiff add a little more milk.

Scrape the cake mixture into a greased springform cake tin or loaf pan and bake for about one hour. Test with a skewer – if it comes out  clean, then the cake is done. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin then loosen the edges, tip out and cool.

I dare you to wait until it is cool. You won't be able to.

This is divine. Truly. Moist, pillowy, luscious, light (in feel, certainly not in calories), with a slightly, ever so slightly sticky crust. I am smitten.

(Also good with raspberries instead of peach and blueberries.)

Summer 2013 version                                                                              Summer 2010 version


  1. Looks fabulous, even the cream with blueberries--yum.

  2. Tomorrow night, when I finish teaching, I am making this cake. I am awash in fresh peaches...I feared I could not use them fast enough. Thank you!

  3. First i'm gonna go hang around your terrace making little mewing noises till you give me some cake.

    Tomorrow I'm off to Ellen's.

    i am awash in hunger.

    xo J.

  4. Hi Marie,
    I was planning to make your original recipe for company next weekend. Now I'm contemplating the new recipe but am wondering, what difference in texture/taste do you find in the updated vs. the old version?
    Thank you, Ann

    1. The cake is a little fruitier, and arguably less rich, but I did not miss anything...

    2. PS I added a photo for you, Ann...for comparison's sake.

    3. Thank you again. Your blogs provide much inspiration and pleasure. Looking forward to your book.

  5. As soon as Jersey peaches are in sight, I will make this cake.
    I love the peaches w/ the booberries. Beautiful.

    1. You worry me. If your Jersey peaches are not in sight, what am I buying at the farmers market?

  6. It's in the oven on this glorious Sunday morning in Florida!

  7. i made this last night and it was great.
    i did not have my spring pan so i just used regular cake pan, which i buttered and floured.
    perfect--not too sweet.
    i did use plums instead of blueberries and i sprinkled some turbinado sugar on top before baking.
    thanks marie--i pre-ordered your book and am really looking forward to it.

  8. this cake was right up my alley, so i made it the other day. great recipe, definitely worth the slog to Trader Joes for almond meal. i was nonplussed by the absence of salt in the recipe, but i figure that's due to the propensity of brits to use salted butter.

    even though mine came out on the dry/sconey side, it's still irresistible. it also refrigerates well.


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