- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I know that patience is virtuous and we’re supposed to live in the present moment as much as we can, but about this time every year I find it difficult not to want to lurch forward into the summer fruit season in all ways, but with baking in particular.

I want to grab the earliest peach, even if it’s not the best peach, simply to get peach-primed, at least in spirit.

My preferred peach-priming exercise is this pudding-cake, which can be made with not-quite-ready peaches (or even with frozen, unsweetened peaches — they work surprisingly well).

This nice little summer-anticipation recipe makes a great breakfast treat, as well as a special treat for dessert or afternoon tea. Serve it warm, about 30 minutes after it comes out of the oven, for maximum ambience.

Peach pudding cake

Nonstick spray for the pan

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon allspice or ground cloves

2 large eggs

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

2½ cups sliced peaches (fresh or frozen but defrosted)

Whipped cream, creme fraiche or vanilla yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice or cloves into a medium-sized bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and brown sugar with an electric mixer at high speed, for about 2 minutes.

Stir in the milk, vanilla and almond extracts and melted butter.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the wet mixture. Add the peaches, and stir until well combined. (Don’t overmix.)

Spread into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted all the way into the center comes out clean.

Serve hot or warm, with a pillow of whipped cream, creme fraiche or vanilla yogurt alongside. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

(Mollie Katzen is author of the “Moosewood Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press).

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