August 23, 2011

fresh peach cake

It's hot. The basil on the terrace wilted and died just as I was thinking about making pesto. The thick haze is obscuring the Alps. I'm too sticky to move or even think about putting a bathing suit on. I hate sleeping on top of the sheets in a breezeless steamy room. Swiss toothpaste tastes funny.

Complaints are easy to come by when it's this hot out. I was getting ready go say goodbye to summer, but it's back with a vengeance. The steamy weather followed me across the Atlantic, delighting the Swiss who have been eagerly anticipating it's return, but upsetting me, a New Englander who had had her fill of heat and humidity and was excited for those cool fall breezes.

Somehow amidst the humidity and icky toothpaste I managed to find some comfort in a cake. Even the heat-pumping oven didn't bother me. The smell of peaches baking with cinnamon and sugar was so wonderful and lovely that I was too preoccupied daydreaming about lake houses surrounded by raspberry bushes and hydrangeas to worry myself over the kitchen's dramatically rising temperature.

As long as there is leftover cake to keep me calm I think I'll be able to make it through this heat wave. This cake is a keeper. One of the best I've made and I will certainly be making it again, and again, and again. And not just when it's hot, but whenever I can find peaches. This cake does double duty, working well with ice cream after dinner and perfectly with coffee for breakfast.

Our Swiss-family-Mayer adventure is slowly winding down (don't leave - come back). We spent this past weekend in Lugano soaking in the scenery and trying to avoid the heat by swimming and staying in the shade. Our hotel was right across from a little floating lido, which aside from providing us with swimming access, served up great food, drinks and shade. Without a question there was one cocktail that was really making itself known, the Aperol Spritz. It is made with prosecco and Aperol and has a distinctly orange color and tastes a bit like orange soda.

I had been thinking for a little while about what type of cake I should make for our guests. Blogging about food definitely increases the pressure to cook for friends/family when they come to visit. I had to make something. Something delicious and delightful, but also quick and easy so I didn't have to spend all day in the kitchen. I settled on this peach cake that I found in one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.

* goodness! a friend brought it to my attention that I had forgotten flour in the list of ingredients. eeks. Sorry to those who tried to make this, I hope you picked up on this obmission.

recipe from adpated Ina Garten

- 1/4 lb (1 stick) butter at room temperature

- 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided

- 2 extra large eggs

- 1 cup creme fraiche (you can also use sour cream like Ina)

- 1 tsp vanilla extract

- 2 cups all-purpose flour

- 1 tsp baking soda

- 1 tsp baking powder

- 1/2 tsp kosher salt

- 2 tablespoons cinnamon (I upped the cinnamon from 1 tsp - make it to taste, I prefer more cinnamon)

- 4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced.

- 1/2 chopped pecans (only if you like nuts)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/190ºC. Grease a 9x9 baking dish.

Cream the butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low and add the eggs, one at a time. Follow with the creme fraiche and vanilla, mixing until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined.

In a small bowl combine the 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.

Spread half of the batter into your baking dish. Layer with half of the peach slices and sprinkle with 3/4 of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Spoon the remaining batter onto of the peaches and smooth with a spatula. Top with the remaining peaches, cinnamon-sugar and pecans.

Bake the cake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Mine definitely took 55 minutes if not a bit longer to bake, so just keep on testing until it seems done. It will settle a bit when you take it out of the oven. Eat warm or cool.

Two pieces of cake to sandwich a restless night of sleep in a steamy apartment is a definite mood booster. I was almost tempted to make ice coffee with ice cream to accompany my breakfast piece, but then I remembered I have a slight lactose problem (really only with ice cream) and that probably wouldn't be a great way to start a day.

Today is my 87th day in Switzerland of my allowed 90, which means it's time to leave again. I head home tomorrow morning (day #88) and this time I'm not allowed to come back to Switzerland, not at least until I get my visa. I'm stuck. All of the paper work is in, we checked and double checked and called to triple check, so now we just have to wait, Zach here and me in the states.

It's going to busy rest of the week (a trip to Montana on Thursday) so if I don't make it back to the blog I know you'll understand! Visitors + travel are wonderful, but certainly not very blog friendly.


  1. This looks amazing and easy enough for a kitchen klutz like me.

    Hoping the visa is issued soon.

  2. Geez, that is a pickle with the visa situation. I hope everything works out well. Your peach dessert looks delicious and I'm sure it is coming from the Barefoot Contessa.

  3. Tally this looks heavenly! My mom is visiting this weekend, and I wanted to make her something new. I'm going to try this.

    I hear you about the heat... VA is a different animal than I'm used to. Also, we had an earthquake this afternoon. What? Earthquakes in VA? I had no idea.

    So excited about this cake!!

  4. Ali- I can't believe I missed the earthquake, but it looks like I've come home just in time for Hurricane Irene. Perhaps I should go on a baking spree in anticipation of a crazy housebound weekend ahead.

    kelli and sarah - thanks for the visa well wishes, they worked!!! I just got the email this morning that my visa is ready to be issued. Hooray