Sunday, July 31, 2011

Peach Cake BAKE-OFF!

I just L-O-V-E summertime dinner parties.  We're headed over to a friend's house tonight for dinner.  My girlfriend asked if I wouldn't mind bringing dessert.  As anyone who knows me, I'm always up for doing that!  I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to bring with me until my weekly shopping trip to Trader Joe's yesterday.  Much to my pleasure and joy, stacked almost to the ceiling were gorgeous peaches.  They looked delicious.

This got me thinking.  What about taking the scrumptious  Rustic Peach Cake I tried last weekend, a recipe I had gotten from a new favorite blogger Tracey's Culinary Adventures?  Or should I try Barefoot Contessa's "Fresh Peach Cake"?  Her recipes are always crowd-pleasers, don't get me started on her crazy Ultimate Brownies!

 OR, should I host my very own bake-off and have my girlfriend's dinner guests weigh in and help me pick which recipe is best?  Yeah, I thought so too...Bake-off it is!!  Ladies, warm up your ovens!

Luckily, both recipes have similar ingredients lists, which made things very easy.  The part that got challenging was managing to remember which bowls of measured ingredients were for which cake?!  If you try this at home, be careful not to mix things up!

In terms of which recipe was easier to get into the oven, I would have to say Barefoot Contessa's (BC). In my opinion, the recipe steps flowed better.  Preparation was key to having the Rustic Peach Cake happen easily.  This meant having to plan a little extra prep time (peach prep, cutting apricots etc).  If you're in a "hurry" (quotes because I dare you to find a good cake recipe, from scratch, that's quick - they all still bake for at least 30 minutes!), go with BC's recipe.  The prep for BC's peaches was just peel, pit, slice and go.  Whereas the Rustic Peach cake requires, blanching, mixing peaches in cinnamon and sugar, setting aside and working on another part of the recipe.  Overall, the difference is minimal but BC's just felt easier.

The smell while both of these cakes were baking was heavenly.  My kids and husband were going nuts. They couldn't wait for dinnertime.  Oh and speaking of nuts, BC's recipe called for pecans.  I decided to skip them because I couldn't remember if anyone going tonight had allergies.  If I had, I would've probably roasted them a little.  I'm sure they make a wonderful addition.

I should also mention that I made one little adjustment to both recipes.  I chose to use Penzey's Baking Spice, as opposed to cinnamon.  I find that any recipe calling for cinnamon can only benefit from having this mix of spices in it.  Baking Spice has Ceylon Cinnamon, China Cassia, ground Spanish Anise Seed, Mace and Cardamom.  I made this same substitution last week and everyone raved over the cake.  I think it's the surprise hint of Cardamom that does it every time.  We'll see what the group has to say tonight.

A baking note:  My 350 degree ovens required the full 55 minutes of baking time for BC's recipe.  The Rustic Peach cake only took 35 minutes to have golden brown edges and a springy middle.  Lastly, I must admit, I may have overbeaten the butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla for the Rustic Cake, making it a little less fluffy this week's version.  We're planning to serve it with some more of my neighbor's homemade mango gelato.  Can't wait to share everyone's comments!

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