Baking is my outlet. When I’m tired, I bake. When I’m stressed, I bake. When I need a break from life, I bake. So this weekend I decided to take a break from the Overseas Briefing Center, post research, bidding, and all things A-100 to bake something tasty. My former boss invited my husband and I over for dinner at her house on Saturday night and that gave me a really great excuse to get in my kitchen, crank up Lady Gaga, and make something both pretty and delicious.
Painted Peach Cake is one of my favorite childhood recipes. When I was a kid, I made it using a boxed cake mix, a can of peaches, and handful of Red Hots candies. Now that I’ve grown up a little, I decided to try the recipe from scratch using super fresh peaches from a local farm and my favorite yellow cake recipe, slightly doctored. I still used classic Red Hots because there just is no messing with perfection.
I know this cake sounds completely kooky. I know you’re thinking peaches? Red Hots? Lemon-lime glaze? But I promise you this cake is delicious. The punch of cinnamon-y spice from the Red Hots really compliments the sweetness of the peaches and the tartness of the lemon-lime glaze. When baked, the Red Hots melt to create the painted effect on the cake, so not only do they serve an important role in the flavor of the cake, but they also help to make it pretty.
Making the cake from scratch resulted in a slightly denser cake than you’d get from a box mix, but I think the weight of the cake and the denser crumb really helped to give it a bit of support for all the peaches I crammed in there. Seriously. I used a lot of peaches.
But enough talking. How about some pictures, eh?
Painted Peach Cake with Lemon-Lime Glaze
For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup to 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar*
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
2 to 4 Tbsp water
* I usually use the lesser amount of sugar because the peaches are so sweet but if you like a very sweet cake, use the full amount.
For the filling:
2 to 3 medium sized peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 to 1/2 cup Red Hots candies
For the glaze:
1/2 to 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 to 2 Tbsp lime juice
Preheat oven to 350. Generously grease a 10 inch tube pan with shortening, being careful to grease all the way up the sides and the center tube. Flour the pan to make sure the cake doesn’t stick. I use a fluted tube pan because it’s pretty and it’s what I have, but a plain tube pan will work fine. (Note: fluted/ornamental tube pans are also called Bundt pans).
Wash, peel, and pit the peaches. Thinly slice. You should get 10 to 12 slices per peach but don’t worry about exact numbers or perfect slices. If you cut up 2 or 3 peaches you’ll be fine. Place peaches in a colander and set over sink to drain.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer or by hand in a large mixing bowl. Add 5 of the eggs, one at a time and beat until just incorporated. Add cream cheese and beat until the batter is thick. Add vanilla extract and mix on low speed until just incorporated. At this point if the batter is too thick (and you’ll know if it is), add another egg and beat until just incorporated.
Pour 1/2 to 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. It will be thick so you might need to spread it a little with a spoon or a rubber scraper, but again, don’t sweat it if it’s not evenly spread out. It’ll even out in the oven.
Gently lay the peaches on the batter. I like them to all face the same direction because I’m OCD like that, but it doesn’t really matter. Once you get a full layer of peaches, go back and add a few more for good measure. You might not use all the peaches you sliced but if you have extras then you get to eat them. Hooray! Sprinkle the Red Hots on top of the peaches.
Spoon the remaining cake batter on top of the peaches/Red Hots and try to spread out the batter as best you can. It’s super thick so it won’t be perfect.
Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until a big skewer comes out crumb-free. It will probably be moist from the peaches and the Red Hots but that’s fine, you just don’t want crumbs on the skewer.
Cool 10-15 minutes and then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.
Mix up the glaze by adding the juices tsp by tsp to the powdered sugar until the glaze is pouring consistency. You don’t want it to be too thin but if it’s too thick it won’t be as shiny and pretty. Brush glaze on cake with a pastry brush until it’s nice and shiny.