Recipe: Peach-Blueberry Cakefoutis
The last 2023 Wordloaf hiatus extra
Wordloaf, the newsletter will be back from summer break this Wednesday, but in the meantime I have the last hiatus subscriber-exclusive recipe to share, and just in time to take advantage of the end of peak peach season.
Here in New England (and in Georgia too), the peaches, plums, and cherries were entirely wiped out this year by a late, hard frost, but the good news is that the 2023 California peach season was excellent, and I encourage you to take advantage of it before it ends. And I have just the recipe for you to use them in.
This is a riff on a recipe I developed for Cook’s Illustrated way back when, my French Apple Cake. Most French apple cakes are custardy, dense affairs that are closer in texture to a clafoutis than a fluffy cake. They are made more like pancakes, with a wet, eggy batter mixed simply and poured around the fruit and baked until it just sets.
Though how I came up with the idea is lost to time, at some point during testing I wondered whether I could somehow make my version a bit more “cakey” without losing the distinctive signature of the real deal. How I did this was to hold back two of the egg yolks from the batter and divide it up into two portions, one large and one small. I added the yolks to the (larger) portion of the batter that would surround the fruit, and added extra flour to the remainder, to dry it out. I put the fruit layer into the pan first and then spread the second batter over it, followed by a dusting of granulated sugar. Once baked, the second batter blankets the custard-fruit layer with a thin shell of fluffy cake, with a crunchy, cracked top. It’s a bit of a party trick, but it’s easy to do, and I love the effect.
Given that French apple cake is itself a variation on a clafoutis, a dish that is usually made with stone fruit (unpitted cherries, most commonly), it made sense to concoct a version of it using stone fruit. While I like this with peaches, it would be equally nice with nectarines or plums, or a combination of any of them. I’ve added blueberries because those are peaking right now too, but you can leave them out and just add more peaches if you like. I also included them as a model for how you can and should improvise with the fruit here. (Cherries would work too, though I’d remove the pits if I were you, especially since the fruit is more buried within this cake than it normally is in a clafoutis.)
Because this is both cake and clafoutis, I’ve started calling it “cakefoutis,” for short.
I have made several changes to this recipe relative to the original French apple cake, in part to account for the extra moisture most stone fruit shed, and to alter the flavor profile (namely using stone-fruit adjacent almond extract instead of vanilla). I also use an extra egg white in the cake layer, rather than discard it.
The recipe is below, for those who have access. See you all in a few days!