Many peach cakes feature full flavor-at the cost of a soggy cake.
We wanted a peach cake recipe that borrowed the humble construct of a buckle and boasted plenty of sweet flavor.
To achieve the right texture for our cake, we needed to eliminate the peaches’ liquid, which was flooding the cake and making it gummy and soggy. To do this, we sprinkled peach slices with sugar, spread them on a baking sheet (lined with aluminum foil spritzed with vegetable oil spray to prevent sticking), and baked them in a very hot oven. The peaches came out of the oven softened and shriveled a bit-a clear indication of moisture loss. Once they cooled, we tossed them with crushed panko bread crumbs, which sopped up the gooey, viscous film the peaches had acquired in the oven. To prevent the batter from pulling the crumbs off of the peaches as we folded them in, we spooned half of the batter into the pan, and arranged the panko-coated peaches on top of it. As the cake baked, the panko disappeared into the crumb, taking any trace of sticky, gloppy peach syrup with it.
The cake was now terrific when made with just-picked peaches, but we wanted to ensure intense peach flavor even when farm-fresh fruit wasn’t available. To that end, we added some peach schnapps to the peaches and sugar while they macerated. The sweet, intense liquor bolstered the flavor of even not-so-perfect peaches.
To make the cake look as good as it tasted, we decked out the top with fanned peach slices and a sprinkling of almond extract–enhanced sugar. As it baked, the sugar and fruit caramelized, creating a glazed topping.