Skip to main content

Summertime Peach Cake With Grapes and Almond Sponge

This peach and grape cake is perfect for summertime!

This peach and grape cake is perfect for summertime!

Midsummer Cake With Seasonal Peaches

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.

Ingredients for summertime peach cake

Ingredients for summertime peach cake

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

1 hour 10 min

1 hour 20 min

8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 175 grams salted butter
  • 175 grams golden caster sugar
  • 250 grams ripe peaches (or canned)
  • 2 eggs
  • 175 grams self-raising flour (or all-purpose flour + baking powder)
  • 125 grams ground almonds
  • 150 grams grapes (or blueberries or berries)

Instructions

  1. Line the base of a cake tin with baking paper.
  2. Set the oven at 170°C / 338°F / gas mark 4.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  4. Chop up the washed peaches (keep their skins on). It is okay to squish them as you try to get the stones out!
  5. Wash and dry the grapes and cut into halves.
  6. Beat the eggs.
  7. Add the eggs, a little at a time, to the creamed butter and sugar.
  8. If there are signs of curdling, stir in a sprinkling of the flour.
  9. Mix the almonds and flour together.
  10. Fold into the mixture, slowly, in two or three lots.
  11. Once mixed together add the chopped fruit.
  12. Scrape into the cake tin.
  13. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Test with a skewer to make sure the skewer comes out relatively clean at the end.
  14. Take the tin out of the oven but leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes.
  15. Transfer the cake onto a pretty plate. Serve as you like: hot or cold, with fruit, ice cream, or custard.

Photo Guide

Mix in the garden fresh fruits.

Mix in the garden fresh fruits.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add beaten eggs.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add beaten eggs.

Put the mixed ingredients into the baking dish.

Put the mixed ingredients into the baking dish.

Which Peaches Are Best for Cooking?

Percoca or clingstone peaches are the best to cook with because of their:

  • Firm texture
  • Aomatic flavor - a strong peach taste
  • Small, smooth stone

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.

Our peach tree

Our peach tree

What Is Midsummer?

Midsummer refers to 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 United States brought their midsummer traditions with them, it is celebrated throughout the States (and Canada) too. In New York, 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."

Grapes from our pergola

Grapes from our pergola

Great for Picnics, Barbecues, and Summer Gatherings

This garden-fresh peach cake is summery, and it's special enough—and yet easy to make—that it would make a pretty midsummer festival party cake, or a summer solstice cake to eat with vanilla ice cream under the evening sun. Perhaps you could pack it for a picnic, too. You could take it to the woods at midnight, to the beach, to a music festival—to 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 dessert).

Cake and ice cream

Cake and ice cream

Light Almond 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.)

This peach and grape 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.

© 2012 Penelope Hart