Trust me, it’s worth it…

…I do like the idea of peach pie. Its name – whisper the words – carries a seductiveness that appeals on a hot, still afternoon when there is little else to do. This is a dessert whose name alone wins you over by its unapologetic softness and deep scent of summer. – Nigel Slater

This post isn’t actually about peach pie. And because it’s the perfect time of year for them, I sorta wish it were. But I don’t regret the recipe I’m about to deliver to you one iota.

You see, peach pie is easy. Get your hands on the recipe for a great pie crust (your auntie’s, your grandma’s, or this one), and fill it up with (a ton of) late summer gold, and you are pretty much set. A little sugar, a little vanilla, maybe even a little butter, but only if you really feel the need to gild the lily. Easy peasy.

But, if you are up for (just a tiny bit) more work, this coffee cake is for you, especially if every other peach-greedy bastard (i.e., ME) has beaten you to the market and you can only get your hands on two or three of the golden beauties.

What is about to be in front of your eyes is the formula that will give you a dense yet delicate cake, which is essentially a whole lotta liquid, barely held together with just enough flour to make a batter. This cake started out as the Campton Place Coffee Cake from Desserts by the Yard, by Chef Sherry Yard, pastry chef at Spago, and by all accounts, one of the most lovely people you will ever meet (which I sincerely hope to do one day, if only to beg forgiveness for messing with her recipe below).

Anyway, when it all comes together, it makes for the most incredible cake with a double filling of peaches, highlighted by cocoa powder and cinnamon. Your mind? Is about to be blown.

Peach Coffee Cake

Adapted from Desserts by the Yard, Sherry Yard

You will need:

  • 2 medium bowls
  • A sifter (I use a large fine mesh strainer)
  • Liquid measuring cups
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Bowl scraper or rubber spatula
  • 1 bundt pan
  • 1 stand mixer
  • Small pot for melting butter
  • Pastry brush (I use a natural hair paintbrush from the hardware store)

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups vanilla yogurt at room temperature

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 12 oz. peaches – peeled, pitted, and diced
  • Optional: 1/4 cup finely chopped almonds, coconut, pistachios, or whatever else strikes your fancy

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare your pan by brushing with butter (please don’t use the spray – it’s gross, and always leaves a discernible and undesirable flavor), and then dusting with flour.

Make the filling by combining all ingredients in one of your medium bowls, and set aside.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar together in your mixer until light and fluffy. This is going to take about 5 minutes, so don’t get all anxious and stop short. Just let the mixer do the work.

While the butter and sugar are working, sift the dry ingredients together three times (yeah, three times – it’s totally worth it and I swear you’ll be looking for things to sift three times after one taste of this cake). Set aside.

Once the butter and sugar have made friends, add the eggs one at a time, making sure to scrape the edge of the bowl a couple of times with your rubber spatula, and waiting for each egg to be fully incorporated before adding the next.

Scrape the bowl once more, and then with the mixer on its lowest setting, add the wet and dry ingredients alternately, in three additions each. Once everything is incorporated, it’s time to assemble the cake.

Put 1 1/2 cups of batter in the bottom of the pan, and use a spatula to even it out. Then, put 1/2 the filling on top of that. Next, put another 1 1/2 cups batter on top, and even out with a spatula. Add the other half of the peach filling, and then the last portion of batter on top, evening out to complete the assembly.

Bake the cake until a tester comes out clear of batter (about 45 minutes), but don’t forget to rotate half way through. Take cake out and cool for 30 minutes on a rack before inverting onto a plate. Resistance will be futile, so make sure you have a fork handy. Goes good with coffee or tea, but goes great with a favorite face on the other side of the table.

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