Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pecan and peach cake for the Slideluck Potshow in San Francisco

When planning a dessert for potlucks recently---Berkeley's Grub and the San Francisco edition of the Slideluck Potshow (an evening of good food and the work of emerging artists. Also described by Shuna)--I decided to make something that would highlight the amazing peaches available in the farmers market. A tour through my baking cookbooks brought me to Nick Malgieri's How to Bake, a book with which I have had uneven success. But the cake recipe I found--"Moist, buttery nut cake"--wasn't the average cake, and would allow me to use locally-grown pecans as one of the main flavoring elements (from Arthur Davis of Santa Rosa).

The cake is layered with lightly-sweetened whipped cream into which I folded small pieces of ripe peach (the Cassie variety from Woodleaf Farm). The peaches in the rich whipped cream base explode with bright flavors and acidity that contrasts with the other components.

This cake is going into my personal "Dessert Hall of Fame." The cake is delightfully moist, and the ground nuts create a pleasant fragility. It should be adaptable to other seasons, using fillings like cooked apple and caramel sauce embedded in whipped cream in Autumn; chocolate ganache and orange marmalade in the winter; fruit preserves anytime; and so on.

Moist, Buttery Nut Cake
Adapted from How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup ground nuts (I used a food processor to grind them)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk or buttermilk

Equipment: Two 9-inch diameter by 1 1/2-inch deep layer pans, or a 14 inch by 9 inch jelly roll pan. Parchment paper.

Butter the pan(s) and then line the bottom of the pan(s) with parchment paper.

Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and remove any racks above it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the flour, ground nuts, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

In another bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar together for about 5 minutes until it is light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl.

Beat the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the bowl and beater.

Add one quarter of the dry mixture to the egg-butter-sugar mixture, mix until combined. Then add one third of the milk, mix until combined. Scrape down the bowl. Continue alternating dry and wet, mixing and scraping after each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and smooth the top with an icing spatula. If using a jelly roll pan, bake for 20 to 25 minutes. If using the round pans, bake for 25 to 30 minutes. (or until a cake tester comes out clean.)

Cool the cake in the pan(s) on a cooling rack for five minutes, then remove the cake(s) by turning over the pan(s). Remove the parchment paper and let the cake(s) cool completely before decorating.

Storing the cake(s): wash the pan(s) and use them to store the cake(s). Wrap tightly and refrigerate for up to one week, or freeze for up to two months.

Random link from the archive: Apricot-Pecan Bars

Technorati tags: Baking : Food


Sandi said...

This looks great. Everything is in the cupboard. Thanks

aisha said...

Hi, found your site while searching for Nick Malgieri's buttery nut cake recipe. I have the book, but I was too lazy to type! Thanks.
I can't wait to go through the rest of the site.

Anonymous said...

I have this book, and this recipe is actually my favorite (include family, friends and anyone who tastes it).
I generally use hazelnuts, and spread Nutella between the layers. Just dust the top with confectioner's sugar. It is to die for!