Sunday, July 10, 2011

Peachy Coffee Cake

The early peaches started coming in here in Tennessee at the end of June, and although there was a lull in varieties ripening last week, by mid-July (in just a few days) peaches should be in full-swing. Before I started canning, I only purchased a few peaches a year--beyond eating them fresh and baking with them, I didn't quite know what to do with them. I especially didn't know about the versatility of peaches--I never thought that they could be made into a salsa, or a barbeque sauce, or peach butter. I made all three (slightly different versions) last year, and kept being surprised by the ways in which peaches could be transformed by the different flavors and textures. So far (already this year), I've made a batch of barbeque sauce and taught a canning class on the peach salsa; both came out exceptionally well, and I've gotten a few incredibly enthusiastic reviews of the barbeque sauce (what can I say, I took it to a party where there was a hot grill and some corn, asparagus, and zucchini--of course they got slathered in the sauce and grilled!). But what I'm trying to say is--if it's just minutes away from being peach season again, the peaches that were canned last year need to be consumed as soon as possible.
Last year, I also canned peaches in light syrup, and we'd been enjoying them in our cereal and in fancy rum drinks; when I checked in the pantry, there was a lone jar of these very peaches still left, right next to a jar of peach butter. I took out the jars and carried them around with me for a little while before I remembered a fall-inspired coffee cake from Celine Steen's The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions. The original recipe uses ginger syrup, roasted apples, and apple sauce to add moisture and sweetness to the cake--and I have to say, the original recipe makes one of the most wonderful coffee cakes I've ever had. However, the peaches also work wonderfully well, and provided me with a good opportunity to use up those last few jars before I put up this year's harvest. 


For the cake:                                                                            For the Streusel:
1 cup peach syrup (from canned peaches)                       1/2 cup pecan halves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup peach butter                                                               1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil                                            1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup whole wheat flour                                                    2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour                                                                                
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup canned peach halves, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9" round cake pan or an 8" square pan.

In a medium bowl, combine peach syrup, peach butter, and oil. In a large bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a separate small bowl, combine the streusel ingredients and set aside.

Fold wet cake ingredients into dry, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the diced peaches.

Pour the batter into the greased pan and spread so the batter covers the pan evenly. Sprinkle streusel evenly on top.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and firm in the center. Transfer to a wire rack and cool before removing from the pan.
The cake isn't overly sweet, and isn't overly peachy--it's everything I want in a coffee cake: slightly crumbly, moist, and flavorful. If you don't have the peachy ingredients available, now you have a good reason to put up peaches so you can make this coffee cake later in the year.


radioactivegan said...

I found a nice you-pick farm here that is supposed to have peaches in a few weeks. I've got this bookmarked so that I remember to buy extra for canning!

Sadly, I missed out on sour peaches this year, but I picked a lot of rainiers yesterday ($1.50/lb vs at least $5 at the market!) so I'm going to try some sweet cherry jam when I get all my stuff back in a week or so.

zemmely said...

You should definitely preserve some peaches! The peach butter is so versatile--I've used it in dessert recipes in place of apple sauce, and it works quite well. The canned peach halves are indispensable, too. However, if you get a chance to make the BBQ sauce that I linked to, you should definitely do it. It is SO GOOD with tofu, or on pizza, or on anything--I can't sing its praises loudly enough.