Bountiful summer peaches sweeten cake
Say “good” and the antonym shoots back “bad.” That’s the sort of word it is: oppositional, defiant, difficult. It must be tough on the thesaurus, parenting a pack of antonyms.
The synonym, on the other hand, plays well with others. Say “good” and it chimes in with pleasing, lovely, delightful. Warming to the subject, it goes on: ripe peaches on a sunny afternoon, sliced over buttery batter, baked up sticky sweet. Perhaps a spritz of lemon, a spatter of sugar, a shake of cinnamon.
And here, the grammatically correct cook pauses. She savors cinnamon, practically a homonym for synonym, and shorthand for perfect finish to the perfect summer dessert.
Prep: 15 minutes
Bake: 50 minutes
Makes: 8 servings
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened (plus more for pan)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 (or more) ripe peaches, pitted, sliced into 1/2-inch crescents
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. In a large measuring cup, briefly whisk together eggs and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Drop the butter into a mixer bowl, beat fluffy, about 1 minute. Cascade in the remaining 2 cups sugar; beat fluffy, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in egg mixture and beat fluffy, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slide in flour mixture and beat on low speed just to combine. Scrape bowl one more time and beat a few seconds to erase any streaks.
Scrape cake batter into buttered pan; smooth top. Arrange peaches over the batter, gently pressing them in a bit. Sprinkle with lemon juice, then cinnamon sugar. Bake until cake turns light brown and is set (poke with a toothpick, it should come out clean), 50 to 55 minutes. Enjoy warm or room temperature.
Provenance: My friend Dovey Kahn is famous for this cake. Rightfully so. She suggests freezing some cake for a taste of summer in winter. In fall, she switches to apples.