Mmm peaches. I love a good, juicy ripe peach in the height of summer eaten over the kitchen sink more than any other summer fruit. Somehow this summer I lost my streak of good peaches, and instead got ones that inevitably tasted like nail polish remover. Got me on that one, I have no idea how that happened.
I baked this cake to bring to a friend who had just moved to town, and needed dinner after a long day of driving and lifting boxes. After chicken gyros with tzaziki, tomatoes, cucumber and pita, I pulled out the cake and she found some vanilla ice cream. Sitting in her non-air conditioned new kitchen, this cake tasted like summer.
One of the best fruit saving tricks I know, when time is running out and fruit either looks like its heading south or won't reach its peak in enough time, is to bake it into something. Guaranteed, the heat of the oven will soften up any problematic fruit into what it is meant to be.
Best of all, this meant I was able to brown butter for the first time. By toasting the milk solids in the butter, it gets darker and nuttier, and well, way more awesome. Go slow, smell every step- you can tell the difference. Also, when this cake bakes, the peaches produce a lot of juice that will make the whole thing seem underdone- make sure you are testing the cake batter and not dragging the tester through the juices.
Peach Brown Butter Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk (or 2/3 cup milk, minus about a teaspoon. replace with a teaspoon of lemon juice, let sit for 10 minutes)
1 1/2 pounds peaches, halved, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges (about 4 cups, 4-5 peaches)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Reserved butter from cake (above)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1. Brown butter: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Keep your eyes on it; it burns very quickly after it browns. Set aside and let cool (the fridge will speed this along).
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom of a 10-inch round cake pan or springform
3. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in bowl to blend.
4. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup cooled browned butter (set aside remaining 1/4 cup for topping), sugar and then eggs, one at a time. Stir in milk or buttermilk. Stir dry ingredients into this wet mixture; mix until just combined and spread batter in prepared pan.
5. Toss nectarine wedges with lemon juice and arrange them in a single layer on top of the batter.
6. Stir remaining brown butter, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt together until large crumbs form. Sprinkle the peach-topped batter with crumbs. Bake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack.