Monday, September 6, 2010

Peach Coffeecake with a Spicy Pecan Streusel

We are now in the midst of that fleeting moment when both summer and autumn produce are available at the farmers' market. This year I have particularly noticed it with the fruit harvest. Tables displaying new crop local apples are set up next to tables laden with the end of the local peaches. On Saturday, one vendor even had a sign with their peaches warning that this might be the last week. I have purchased some of the new crop apples, but I'm really not quite ready for summer to come to an end. So even though this is Labor Day weekend, the traditional end of the summer season, I have asserted my unwillingness to let go of summer by making one last peach coffee cake.

The cake part of this coffee cake is a plain sour cream cake. I call it plain because it is a very basic cake—most home bakers will have a similar one in their repertoire. Sour cream cakes are universally popular. They generally have good keeping qualities and the subtle tang of the sour cream lends itself to all kinds of flavor pairings and combinations.  Plain doesn't mean boring and I use this particular cake all the time...varying the fruit with the seasons and the streusel to match the fruit. I'm sure it will appear on my blog again—perhaps with pears, dried fruit, fresh berries...even chocolate.

Recently while working on a recipe for a peach tart I came across a slightly different method for peeling peaches. Peaches are typically peeled by dropping them in boiling water and then into ice water. This method is effective for removing the skins, but the peaches become very slippery this way and are difficult to work with. Also, there always seems to be water everywhere—on the counter, running down your arms, etc. It really makes a big mess. The "new" method seems to be more effective and it is not messy at all—I will never go back to the other way.

To begin, cut a slash in the bottom of each peach. Place the peaches in a heatproof bowl. Pour boiling water over the peaches and let them sit for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to a towel and let them sit until they are cool enough to handle (a minute or two). Peel the peaches as for the other method, using your thumb and a paring knife. The peaches will have almost steamed themselves dry as they cool on the towels, and there will not be all the sloshing, slippery, cold water to deal with. Even better, the peeled peaches aren't nearly as slick when they haven't been submerged in cold water.

When I made my cake I made a spiral pattern with sliced peaches on top of the cake, but since the peaches are covered pretty thoroughly by streusel, you could just cut the peaches in 1/2- to 3/4-inch chunks and scatter them evenly over the cake.

My usual habit when I make a coffeecake is to allow it to cool, then portion it and then freeze the individually wrapped portions.  This way I always have a stash of homemade baked goods available for my breakfast.  And most of this cake did end up frozen and ready for breakfast.  But it looked so tempting when it came out of the oven, that we had some after dinner with vanilla ice cream.  It made a pretty nice summer dessert.  So even if you don't like to eat cake for breakfast, you should still be able to find a way to enjoy the charms of this cake.

Peach Streusel Coffeecake

1 1/3 c. all purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. allspice
1/4 t. salt
8 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to blend. Add the butter as you stir with a fork or rubber spatula. Squeeze the mixture into clumps. Set aside.

1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour (7 oz.)
¾ t. salt
1 t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
8 T. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 t. vanilla
1 c. sour cream
3 medium ripe peaches, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/2 c. toasted pecans, coarsely broken

Butter a 10- by 2-inch round cake pan (you could use a 9- by 9- by 2-inch square pan if you prefer). Line the pan with parchment and butter the parchment. Flour the pan, tapping out the excess, and set aside.

Combine the first four ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the vanilla. By hand (or on low speed), add the flour in three additions, alternately with the sour cream in two additions.

Spread half of the batter in the prepared pan, Sprinkle with one-third to one-half of the streusel. Spread the remaining batter over the streusel and arrange the peaches on top. Combine the pecans with the remaining streusel and sprinkle this mixture over the cake. Bake the cake at 350° until springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean—about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a small spatula around the edge of the pan and flip the cake out onto a plate. Flip the cake back over onto a wire rack (so that it is right side up) and allow the cake to cool completely.


Unknown said...

The peaches from my local farmer's market have been so succulent this year that I almost hesitate to do anything but eat them as they are. This looks good enough to change my mind though. Plus, I am dying to try the new peeling method. Peeling peaches has always been one of my least favorite things--right up there with sectioning grapefruit.

Unknown said...

I love a good coffeecake. One with streusel is just icing on the cake :)

Katrina said...

Mmm, that looks good.
You realize the timeliness of this post--a brother-in-law just gave us a big box of peaches from their tree! They are ripe and ready! I must take care of them today. Can't wait to try this peeling method.

CindyD said...

I was taught to peel peaches like a tomato - scrape a paring knife over the skin and then just pull it off. If it doesn't work the peach isn't ripe enough to eat.

Paige said...

Hi CindyD,

Yes, for peaches that I am going to eat, that is usually what I do too. It doesn't work so well for me if the peach is very thin skinned--but if I am eating it, I don't care if all of the skin comes off or not because I don't mind eating the more tender thin skin.

When I bake or cook with peaches I'm usually working with more than one--and the variations on blanching are generally faster (at least for me).

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!