Prize-Winning Peach Cake

Prize-Winning Peach Cake made with Gerawan Farms Prima Peaches

photography Elizabeth Messina

February/March 2011 issue of

article written by Sarah Young

Winning for Best Taste 
photography Elizabeth Messina

Leave it to Hollye Jacobs, Suzanne Garrett and Gina Tolleson to come up with such a fun and clever way for women to get together to laugh and enjoy a gorgeous afternoon. Everyone had to bring their own dessert. It could be flown in, purchased or homemade. The key to each dessert was that it had to have a story. The contest had three components: Best Taste, Best Story and Best Apron. Some of the stories made us laugh and others made us cry. I have always believed that food has such deep meaning and connection and is more than something just to put in your mouth. Food nourishes us both emotionally and physically. Food prepared with love means you care about someone.

It was a joyous day I will always remember. And the cake I made wouldn't have been possible without peaches from my dear friends in Reedley. Their Prima Peaches are the best in world and we wait eagerly for summer when they are ripe.

The Peach Cake with Burnt Sugar Shards Recipe (click on the hyper-link) is both on Elizabeth Messina's fabulous Kiss the Groom Blog as well as in the February March issue of Santa Barbara Magazine. My mom and sister's bakery, The Solvang Bakery, also had their chocolate chip cookies featured at the bake-off as well as an Apron Cake made our of cupcakes.

The secret to this cake is buying the best peaches possible.
I wait every year for Prima Peaches to come in season.  They are
so addictively delicious.  I sauté the peaches in butter and a
little butter and sugar so there are fresh peaches on
top of the cake as well as inside it.
For Peaches:
1 pound sliced peaches (about 3 cups) for inside of cake.
Additional peaches will be needed for top of cake.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
a pinch of kosher salt or sea salt
For the Cake:
1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cooked peaches (note:  the three cups of peaches will cook down to about 1 1/2 cups.
Reserve some peaches for the top of the cake or just cook more.  The more peaches the better!
Also remember to reserve the liquid from the cooked peaches for the frosting.
For the Frosting:
2 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened
2 sticks of unsalted butter
2 1-pound box of powdered sugar
1/4 cup of peach syrup (liquid after you cook the peaches)
For the Shards of Sugar (to garnish additional peaches and to garnish top of cake)
1 cup Sugar
For the peaches: Heat a large skillet to medium high heat.  Add butter and peaches.  Sprinkle with sugar.  (if the peaches are not naturally sweet you may need more sugar.  The peaches I use are very sweet and only need a little sugar)  Add ground ginger and a pinch of salt.  Set aside.
For the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour 2 8-inch-round cake pans.  Set aside.
In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing them completely into the butter mixture after each addition.
In a separate bowl combine all of the remaining dry ingredients:  flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix or sift together well.  Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the sour cream.  Stir in the vanilla extract.
Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the cooked peaches into the cake batter.  Divide batter evenly between cake pans.  Baked for 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Remove cakes from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Then invert onto cooling racks to finish cooling.
Make the Frosting: It is probably best to make the frosting in two batches unless you have a really big bowl.  So put one block of cream cheese, one stick of butter and one box of cream cheese in a mixing bowl and mix until well blended.  Mix in reserved peach syrup from your cooked peaches.  Then make another batch exactly like it.
Make the burnt sugar shards: Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  In a large stainless steel saucepan, place the sugar.  Heat over medium high heat until sugar begins to melt and brown.  Do not stir.  Tilt the pan if you need it to melt more evenly.  As soon as the sugar is a beautiful amber brown color pour it onto the parchment paper lined sheet tray.  Slightly tilt the pan so it spreads around.  It should harden immediately as it cools.   When it is completely hard break it into shards by either hitting it with a mallet or dropping the tray so the sugar cracks.
Frost the cake.  Just before presenting place more sautéed peaches on top of the cake for garnish.  Place some of the sugar shards on top of the peaches.  Garnish around the cake with peach halves and quarters and piles of burnt sugar.


BettyJo said…
My Hubby's Birthday was April 9th and I picked up the issue of SB magazine and decided this was tho be his birthday cake. I only had store bought peaches to make it with. This was the best cake ever so moist my family ate it for breakfast the next day too. This was a labor of love my daughter and I did it together it was a fun time to spend with her. Thank you so much for sharing I have photos if you would like to see :) We miss the peach cake ...
Maili said…
Thank you so much BettyJo for telling me. I'd love to see your photos!

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