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Ginger and peach are flavors from seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum that end up making beautiful music together. Ginger, most often associated with cold weather and the holidays, provides a sparkling accent to the smooth, sweet flavor of fresh peaches, which are definitely doyennes of summer.
Don’t worry if this moist, tender cakes falls a bit in the center as it bakes. You’re going to turn it upside down anyway, and no one will be the wiser! And, a cautionary note: If you can’t find fresh peaches that are perfectly ripe, juicy, and flavorful, use frozen. Cake made with rock-hard, tasteless fresh peaches is time and money down the drain.
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
1 tablespoon (5/8 ounce) ginger syrup (see recipe below), peach brandy, or water
3 cups (about 2 pounds) peeled, pitted, sliced fresh peaches or frozen peach slices* OR 1 can (29 ounces) sliced peaches, drained
*Thaw frozen peaches thoroughly before using.
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
2/3 cup (5 ounces) brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup (4 ounces) molasses
1/2 cup (2 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour, organic preferred
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (4 ounces) yogurt (low-fat is fine), or buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9" square cake pan.
To make the topping: Melt the butter with the sugar and ginger syrup (or liquid of your choice) in the microwave, or heat gently in a saucepan, till butter is melted. Spread into the prepared pan. Top with the peaches, placing the slices side by side in a neat single layer. If you use canned peaches, you’ll probably have some left over.
To make the cake: Beat the butter, sugar, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth. Beat in the molasses. Gently mix in the flour, then the buttermilk or yogurt. Spoon the rather thick batter into the prepared pan, atop the peaches. Gently spread it to reach the edges of the pan.
Bake the cake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove it from the oven, wait 1 minute, then invert it onto a rack. Lift the pan off, and place any peaches that remain in the pan back atop the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature, with ice cream, whipped cream, or just as it is.
Yield: 16 servings.
Bitingly hot and sweet, this ginger syrup is a snap to make. Drizzle it over gingerbread, biscuits or scones, pancakes, oatmeal…it’s a wonderful addition to tea, too. If you like ginger, this syrup’s for you!
4 cups (about 13 ounces) fresh ginger root, unpeeled, cut into 1/8" to ¼"-thick slices (a food processor makes short work of this task)
3 1/2 cups (25 1/4 ounces) sugar
3 1/2 cups (28 ounces) water
In a large, heavy saucepan, bring the ginger, sugar, and water to a boil. Boil the mixture for 45 minutes to an hour, until it registers 216°F to 220°F on an instant-read thermometer. The lower temperature will give you a thinner syrup, one that’s easy to stir into drinks; the higher temperature will yield a thicker syrup, more the consistency of corn syrup. Note: You can’t tell how thick the syrup will be while it’s still hot; you have to go by its temperature, as it’ll thicken as it cools.
Remove the pan from the burner, and carefully strain the syrup into a non-reactive container. Store in the refrigerator.
Yield: 2 1/4 cups syrup