Monday, July 27, 2009

Peach-Blueberry Cake . . . or, if you prefer, Nectarine-Blueberry Cake . . .

When I was expecting a baby in July of 1996, late in my third trimester, I was hungry. My doctor had advised me in those last couple of weeks to keep my weight steady, not to gain, and I was carefully adhering to his advice. I was also, apparently, clipping recipes from magazines for delectable baked goods I would have to indefinitely put off trying out. (I think I must have been really hungry.) One such item was this cake recipe, which surfaced recently in a little black notebook where I had taped it neatly for future use.

Now, I'm not in the habit of neatly taping things into notebooks, so it was probably the nesting instinct that made me do that. I was nesting alright. One look at the military precision with which I had organized the baby's room--particularly all the paraphernalia on the changing table--attested to this. Everything in it's proper place, right down to the Desitin and baby wipes. I was prepared. Newborn-sized diapers stood at attention in neat little stacks, just awaiting the signal to spring into action. Yes, we women can be astoundingly organized when new babies impel us to be so (we're amazing that way, aren't we?). And, apparently, clipping recipes for baked delicacies I could not eat at the time, was just another outlet for my obvious need to systemize things before the Big Event.

Anyway, until yesterday I'd never tested out this summery cake recipe and, this being summer and all, I figured I might as well finally give it a go. The original recipe's title, Peach-Blueberry Pound Cake, is something of a misnomer. This is not--in my sole opinion--a pound cake, thus I have changed the name of the recipe below to reflect that. It doesn't really have the density or texture of a pound cake, and the process for putting it together doesn't mirror the majority of garden-variety pound cake formulas that I've ever seen. (It doesn't even call for any sort of extract or flavoring at all--that in itself is uncustomary, don't you think?) It is a good cake, but I'd say it straddles the fence between being a coffee cake and a huge cake-shaped muffin. You can hold a piece of it in your hand to eat it, or savor it with a fork. Your choice.

It was originally intended to be made with peaches but I just had nectarines on hand so I used those and they worked out fine. Besides that minor change, the only other thing I altered was to reduce the total amount of fruit required. I thought the recipe called for significantly more fruit than could be absorbed, or supported if you will, by the cakey part itself. I am pretty sure I was on target. The amount of fruit in the version of the recipe I prepared seems just right. It's a rather light cake, actually, and it would be very at home served along with a special breakfast or brunch, though it also makes a perfectly respectable dessert. It could probably be dolled up with a little dollop of whipped cream on top, to make it even more respectable.

So, without further ado . . .

Peach-Blueberry Cake (aka, Nectarine-Blueberry Cake)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour, or use baking spray to coat (that's always the easiest option when you're dealing with a funny shaped pan), a 10" tube pan with a removable bottom.

1/2 cup butter, unsalted
1/4 cup milk (I used 2 percent; any kind will probably work fine)
4 or 5 medium-sized nectarines or peaches, fully ripe if possible (to yield about 1 and 3/4 cups fruit, when cut up)
1 pint (2 cups) blueberries, picked over, rinsed, and lightly dried with paper towel
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 and 1/2 cups cake flour, unsifted (I suspect this cake could safely be made with All Purpose flour too, with no serious repercussions; next time I think I may try that)

Heat milk and butter in a small sauce pan until butter melts. Set aside to cool slightly.

Peel and slice peaches/nectarines into 1/2" chunks. (If you like, blanch and shock them first to make removing the skin much easier; this works extremely well with very ripe fruit, particularly peaches, but not so well with really firm, less ripe fruit.) Set the chopped fruit aside.

Beat the eggs and sugar in a large mixer bowl until they're thick and and pale, for about 5 minutes.

On low speed, mix in the baking powder and salt. Add the flour in two additions, alternately with the warm butter mixture, until thoroughly combined.

Fold in all of the fruit gently.

Pour the batter into the pan and smooth out the top. (The batter is quite sticky.)

Bake for up to one hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (My cake took only about 50 minutes, but my oven is notoriously hyperactive.)

Let the cake cool, in the pan, on a rack for about half an hour. Run a very thin knife or spatula around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Remove the outer portion of the pan, and let the cake finish cooling completely on its base before inverting the cake onto the rack, and then flipping it back onto its serving plate so the top is right-side up.

P.S. That 1996 baby was a boy, and when he saw me making this cake yesterday he said (in kind of a whiney voice), "Mommm, how come you're always making all kinds of other things lately, and not chocolate chip cookies???" So pitiful was his mournful plea, I decided to be merciful. So I'm off now to make a little batch of the cookie-that-never-fails-to-please-adolescent-boys, the mighty chocolate chip. Till next time . . .

Recipe Full Disclosure!
This recipe, in its original form, appeared in the May 1996 issue of Woman's Day magazine, and it was titled, "Peach-Blueberry Poundcake."

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Unknown said...

The cake looks phenomenal!! Great job! looking forward to the post about the cookies!

My Casa Bella said...

Ok, I know what I'm baking this weekend, I just put on my blog that I am on a diet from our beach getaway, then I see this wonderful looking dessert now there goes that idea!!!

Jenifer said...

Of course, the writer is completely fair.