I find it appropriate that I am following up a post about summer tomatoes with a post about summer peaches. Brian and I have long had the argument over which is our favorite summer fruit, with him typically landing on the tomato side of the line and me on the peach. It is a close race, for sure. Both are delicious only during their season, each overlapping the other during July and August in Virginia. We rarely eat tomatoes outside of summer, and never peaches, unless we've put some away in jars and freezer bags. The limited window of availability makes peaches and tomatoes all the more special, precious even, and we indulge ourselves in both when they are available. Right now, as I write this, there are roughly 20 pounds of peaches and 30 pounds of tomatoes spread across my dining room. 50 pounds of fruit, friends. I think we have a problem...
After venturing out to Chiles Peach Orchard with a girlfriend a few days ago, I found the first thought swirling through my head involved a dense, peach-topped, breakfast-y cake. A cake with some heft; a good base to start the morning off just right. After some searching I came across Emeril's Cornmeal Olive Oil Cake with Poached Peaches...(the name goes on...), and modified it to suit my own desire for a simple, one-component breakfast cake. I am so very, very pleased with the result. The rosemary-scented cornmeal crumb is dense and savory with moments of crunch and highlights of salt. It sounds strange, I know, but there really are occasional bites that taste salty, while the majority offer a mild sweetness courtesy of the honey and fruit. It is a cake full of wonderful contrasts; sweet paired with salty, the crunch of cornmeal with the softness of peaches.
I wouldn't pigeonhole this cake into the dessert category; it really could pass as a cornbread side dish at a backyard barbecue. But I think the perfect place for it would be brunch...where savory sweets are wanted and expected. It is a new favorite in our house, for sure, and even further muddies the race between the tomato and the peach...
Cornmeal Cake with Peaches + Rosemary
adapted from Emeril Lagasse via Food Network
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 tsp minced, fresh rosemary
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 ripe peach, sliced thinly (1/8-inch thick)
- Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan. (next time I will use a springform pan so that I can remove the cake whole)
- Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the cornmeal and the rosemary.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolk, milk, olive oil, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the sugar and honey, and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and top with the peach slices.
- Bake in the middle of the oven for 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack. If using a springform pan you can remove the cake whole, otherwise you can slice it in the pan and remove individual slices to serve.