How to Make a Garden-Fresh Peach Cake
Garden Peach Cake
A Cake for Midsummer Festival or Middle of Winter
In the middle of summer, on the cusp of when the last peaches (percoca) are picked off the trees and the new grapes just begin to ripen on the pergola, I found chef Nigel Slater's recipe for this "Cake for Midsummer" in the Guardian Newspaper, which he so perfectly describes as "the very essence of summer."
His recipe inspired me to make my own version of his scrumptious almond-crumbly garden peach cake, which I made with the freshly-picked fruits growing on our trees (and vines) in the garden.
In the middle of winter, if you find a few grapes in your market, or with blueberries, you could easily make this fresh-tasting cake using canned peaches. Served hot with whipped cream this would make a perfect fruity pudding or desert. (Remember to dry the peaches with some paper toweling).
Garden Peach Cake for Summertime
- 175 g butter, salty
- 175 g sugar, golden caster
- 250 g peaches, ripe (or dried, from a can)
- 2 eggs
- 175 g flour, self raising (or all purpose + baking powder)
- 125 g almonds, ground
- 150 g grapes (or blueberries, or berries)
How to Make Graden Peach CakeClick thumbnail to view full-size
- Line the base of a cake tin with baking paper.
- Set the oven at 170° C / 338° F (gas mark 4)
- Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
- Chop up the washed peaches - with their skins on. It is Okay to squish them as you try to get the stones out!
- Wash and dry the grapes and cut into halves.
- Beat the eggs.
- Add the eggs, a little at a time, to the creamed butter and sugar.
- If there are signs of curdling, stir in a sprinkling of the flour.
- Mix the almonds, and flour together.
- Fold into the mixture, slowly - in two or three lots.
- Once mixed together add the chopped fruit.
- Scrape into the cake tin.
- Bake for 1 hour and 10 mins. (Test with a skewer to make sure the skewer comes out relatively clean at the end).
- Leave in the tin for 10 minutes.
- Remove onto a pretty plate - and serve as you like (hot or cold, with fruit or ice cream - or even custard).
The Percoca Peach or Clingstone Peach
The other name for them is Clingstone Peach.
Percoca or Clingstone peaches are the best to cook with because of their
- firm texture,
- aromatic flavor - a strong peach taste.
- small stone which is smooth.
They are easy to identify at the market because they are a medium-sized peach, a deep yellow in color with an intense red hue.
Tinned peaches are usually made from this type of peach.
What Is Midsummer?
It is the summer solstice when magic is in the air, when the evil spirits were said to roam free because the sun was turning southwards again, when summer plants like St John's Wort had miraculous healing powers. It is largely a European celebration and since the European immigrants to the USA brought their midsummer traditions with them, it is celebrated throughout the States (and Canada) too. In NYC, Swedish Midsummer Celebrations are held in Battery Park New York City and Throgs Neck (on the Long Island Sound).
In Sweden it has been celebrated since before Christianity and is a sacrifice time "in the sign of fertility."
Midsummer Festival Party Dish
This garden-fresh peach cake is summery, and it's special enough - and easy to put together - that it would make a pretty Midsummer festival party cake, or a Summer Solstice cake to eat with ice cream (under the evening sun), served with vanilla ice cream. Perhaps you could pack it for a picnic too. You could take it to the woods at midnight, to the beach, to the music festival - any party or summer event; it's so pretty.
It's a versatile cake, different from 'fruit cakes' because the fruit tastes fresh (even if you serve it straight from the oven as a winter desert).
Grapes From the Pergola
Garden Peach Tree
Alice in Wonderland's Plum Cake
Light Sponge Cake
Summertime isn't traditionally a cake making time—in fact for many, cake tins are put away until autumn. It could be because it is so hot.
Summer cakes are delicious though—especially if they are light, fruity or fruit-jam tasting and pale in color—like the sun. (I'd go so far as to say they're better without 'spice' because spice is nice in autumn and winter.)
Garden Peach Cake is a light sponge really, with finely grated almonds and fruits folded into it—cooked very slowly so that the fruit breaks down—just enough. The peaches are sweet, but the grapes or blueberries are tart; the contrast is a wizz-bang on your palette.
Add to this the crunchy crust, the moist cake mixture, the roughness of the almonds—and you have a party festival in your mouth.
Cake and Ice Cream
© 2012 Penelope Hart