Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Martha's Peach Cornmeal Skillet Cake

The lovely Peach Cornmeal Upside-Down Skillet Cake

Okay, I confess: this recipe is not a Rori original, but instead comes from Martha Stewart. Find the original recipe here. For such a beautiful and delicious cake, it's quite easy to make.

  • 2 medium peaches (I had giant peaches and used just over one)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried lavender (optional, so no need to tear open the sachets in your underwear drawer if you can't find it)
  • 1 stick + 3 tablespoons butter, unsalted (though I used salted for the 3 tbsp)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used a blend of about 2/3 white and 1/3 brown)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (I used light cream because I had it on hand, and it turned out fine, though heavy cream would likely make it a bit more decadent)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

A close-up of the caramelized crust.
Prepping (measuring, chopping, etc.) all of your ingredients ahead of time is always a good idea. With this recipe it is extra helpful, if not essential.
Directions (in my words):
  • Preheat your oven to 350.
  • Slice your peaches, leaving the skin on. I got about 12 slices out of each peach.
  • Heat 3 tbsp butter in a cast iron skillet on medium heat, brushing some along the sides as it melts.
  • When the butter is fully melted, sprinkle 1/4 cup of the sugar evenly around the pan. It will melt and begin to bubble after about three minutes.
  • Quickly but carefully place you peaches in the pan in a decorative manner. Place them as close as you can to each other, even slightly overlapping as they will reduce as they cook. Avoid moving them once placed.
  • Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes. The peaches will soften and their juices will be bubbling with the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat when they are done.
  • In a large bowl combine cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and lavender (crushed and/or roughly chopped).
  • Add one stick of softened (room temperature) butter. Beat at high speed for about three minutes. The mix will look crumbly but fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs one at a time until fully blended at medium speed.
  • Add combined cream and vanilla, half at a time, blending at low speed.
  • Drop large spoonfuls over the peach and suger mix in the skillet. Avoid mixing any of the peach liquid in with the batter, as you want it to remain on top to form a nice glaze.
  • Gently spread the batter evenly in the pan, going all the way up to the edge.
  • Put in the oven to bake. Martha recommended 20-22 minutes but mine required about 30. Start checking it after 20, looking for a golden brown color. A knife or toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
  • After the skillet is removed from the oven, let it stand for about ten minutes.
  • Run a knife or spatula around the edge of the cake to make sure it's loose, then quickly flip your cake onto a plate. Give the bottom of the pan a few firm pats to ensure the peaches have come off, then unveil your creation!
Ready to enjoy the fruits (or cakes) of my labor.

It's great served slightly warm, either on its own or with some creamy vanilla ice cream. The true magic of this cake is that it doesn't have to be with peaches-- you can substitute any fruit you might like or that's in season (apples, plums, pears, etc.) and also play with the herbs and spices. I'm thinking blackberries and rosemary next time?

- Rori

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