Every summer, I make a weekly pilgrimage to
an orchard that’s only 15 minutes from my house. They grow all kinds of wonderful fruits,
but their peaches are outstanding. They are sweet, a little acidic, and juicy. These are
the peaches I love to make today’s cake with. Butter your mold with a little softened butter,
then line it with some wax paper. Cut the wax paper at the edge of the rim and butter
the wax paper. This is going to make unmolding our cake a breeze. Cut the peach in quarters,
then twist it to remove the slices without bruising them. Then you can remove the pit.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat and add the butter. Now, it’s really
important that the pan be wide enough to fit the peach slices in one layer. This pan is
12 inches, and that’s the size I recommend. Once the butter has melted, just add the peaches
to the pan, laying them on one of their cut sides. Saute the peaches until golden, and
that’s going to take between 3 and 4 minutes. You can leave them undisturbed. Sprinkle the
peaches with the sugar — about 2 tablespoons’ worth of sugar — and now you can flip them
on their other side. See, we’ve got a nice color on them already. Now we’re going to
continue cooking the peaches until the other cut side is golden-brown. Let’s check our
peaches — you see, both sides have got a wonderful golden-brown color, so they are
ready. Now just arrange the peaches in the same daisy pattern in your cake mold. Make
sure you fit the slices tightly so that they all fit. Return the pan to the stove and heat
it between medium-high and medium heat. Add the sugar, the vanilla, and the cognac. Now
stir that well, and we’re going to cook this into a rich caramel. This will take 5 to 6
minutes, and you’re going to want to stir continuously, keeping a close eye not to burn
your caramel. The reason for using the same pan is that the peaches have already left
the most incredibly delicious juices that have already caramelized in the pan. So this
caramel is going to have a wonderful peachy flavor to it. The first thing that the caramel
is going to do is to foam up like this. Make sure you keep stirring! After a couple of
minutes, the caramel becomes thick as you see. Make sure you keep stirring. Towards
the end of the cooking, as you see, the sugar crystals are melting again; the caramel is
starting to become smooth. This is the point where you have to be super careful, because
it could easily burn. We want the caramel to take a slightly darker color, and we want
it to be completely smooth, but we definitely do not want to overcook it. So make sure you
keep stirring and keep a very, very close eye. You see how smooth it’s getting now?
And because we keep stirring, the butter is not allowed to separate from the caramel.
We are almost done. We have a few seconds to go. Look how beautiful this caramel looks!
Alright, we are done. So now turn off the heat and drizzle it over the peaches. By the
way, you have to be very careful when you work with caramel — you can burn yourself
very easily. For the egg whites, you’re going to whip them at medium speed until frothy.
Now we’re going to increase to high speed, and then sprinkle about 1/4 cup of sugar,
gradually, over the eggs whites. Now we’re going to continue beating until firm peaks
form. Here we are. Place the softened butter in a bowl; add the sugar and the vanilla.
Now you’re going to beat on slow speed until this mixture is creamy. Now we’re going to
add the egg yolks one at a time, and we’re going to continue mixing on medium speed until
they are well incorporated. You’re going to beat the mixture until it looks very thick
— about 1 minute. Alright, this looks perfect. Add about 1/3 of the egg whites to this mixture
and fold it in. As you know, folding is really lifting the ingredients so that we keep the
air that we beat into these egg whites. Alright, this is good enough. We’re going to add half
of the flour mixture and then fold that in very carefully. As soon as it’s barely incorporated,
you can stop. Then add another 1/3 of the egg whites. Now you add the balance of the
flour mixture, fold that in again, and we finish with the balance of the egg whites.
As soon as the egg whites are incorporated, you can stop folding. (You should still see
lumps of them.) Place your mold on top of a jelly roll pan and pour the batter on top
of the peaches. Look at our cake! It’s got a beautiful golden color. Make sure that a
toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, because the peaches release so much
juices when they bake that they often make the center a little soggy — so this is where
you need to test your cake. But this one is done. Place the cake on a cooling rack and
let cool for at least 1 hour. Unmolding the cake is super easy — just lift the wax paper,
put your platter on top of the mold, and invert. Now gently lift the mold, and remove the wax
paper. Be very careful with this task. Take your time. You don’t want to tear the side
of the cake. Look at this; look how gorgeous our cake is! No clean the side here with a
damp paper towel, and if you wish you can finish with a little powdered sugar. This
gives our plate and the rim a nice little detail. This cake is so delicious that I love
to serve it simply with a little vanilla Chantilly. Enjoy baking, and bon apetit!