Late July and August mean one fruit to me: peaches. Strangely as a child I didn’t care much for them; I think it was the fuzzy skin. There is something about fresh Hungarian peaches, and every summer I really can’t get enough of them. Now you can find markets overflowing with peaches so it’s a challenge to think up new ways to cook with them if you’re tired of wiping all the juice from your chin. This month I’ll just show you what I usually do … search the internet for something that is not too tricky and looks like it will taste great. I always find great recipes from my favorite TV food chef – without gigantic ego – Alton Brown.
If you don’t know Alton Brown and you have any interest about the so-called “science of food”, check out his show Good Eats. He’ll walk you through the best ways to prepare a dish, possibly its origins, and explain the nuts and bolts of why it cooks the ways it does. Unlike the majority of celebrity TV chefs – looking at you, Jamie Oliver – he is not full of himself or coming up with new silly ways to say something tastes good.
Here is his “Upside Down Peach Cake” recipe … he should know to prepare them since he comes from Georgia.
- 45grams (3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
- 50g (1/4 cup) light brown sugar
- 2 medium peaches, peeled
- 45g (3 tablespoons) finely chopped crystallized/candied ginger
- 100g (½ cup) all-purpose flour
- 5g (1 teaspoon) baking powder
- 1 small pinch (1/8 teaspoon) baking soda
- 1 small pinch (1/8 teaspoon) salt
- 70g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
- 115g (1/2 cup) buttermilk, room temperature
- 3g (1/2 teaspoon) vanilla extract
- Whipped cream or ice-cream, for serving, optional
Preheat oven to 175 C / 350 F.
Divide 2 tablespoons of the butter between 4 (170g / 6oz) ramekins. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and set aside. Evenly divide the brown sugar between the ramekins; sprinkling it into the bottoms of the dishes. Cut each peach into 12 to 14 pieces. Lay the peaches on top of the sugar; evenly dividing them between the dishes and sprinkle with the ginger. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar, buttermilk, vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until they combine. Pour the batter over the peaches; dividing the mixture evenly between the dishes. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cake reaches an internal temperature of 90 degrees C on an instant-read thermometer.
Remove from the oven to a rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each dish and turn upside down onto a serving plate. Repeat with each cake. Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice-cream if desired.
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown, 2006
Did you know?
- The peach tree (Prunus persica) is native to China. It was first transported to the West by the Persians and then by the Romans. China is still the world’s largest exporter of peaches.
- Peaches contain vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6 and minerals such as potassium. A medium peach contains only 37 calories.
- Nectarines are a variety of peach with a smooth skin, not a cross between a peach and a plum.
- In ancient China, peaches were considered a symbol of long life and immortality.
- Only one gene separates peaches and apricots.
- White peaches are less acidic due to the “honey gene”, a dominant gene that is found in all Chinese peach varieties, European and American types typically are cultivated with yellow skin and yellow flesh. These have higher acidity.
- The US state of Georgia is known as the Peach State.
- Ty Cobb, one of baseball’s all-time legends, was nicknamed “The Georgia Peach” since he came from Georgia.
- Peaches, born Merrill Beth Nisker, is a Canadian electronic musician and performance artist.