Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cake of the Week: Summer Peach Chantilly Cake

Oh my goodness. I know I keep saying this…but this may be the BEST cake I’ve ever made. 

It rivals the epic cheesecake in the beauty category. And texture? It may beat out the Mint Chocolate Pound Cake. And overall taste? Well the Key Lime Cake put up a good fight, but fresh peaches + mascarpone cream + whipped cream frosting = can anything compare??? I think not.

Get excited. Get jealous. I bring you the Summer Peach Chantilly Cake

I’ve been very into summer fruit recently (that’s pretty much the only good that comes from this hotter-than-the-gates-of-hell July). Every Sunday and Thursday the Farmer’s Market free samples remind me how good juicy ripe sunny peaches are. I’m pretty sure I sampled a white nectarine and said (out loud) Oh wow, this is what summer tastes like!

And being myself, I had to figure out how to translate that sweet summery deliciousness into cake form…

I've only spent 2 of the last 7 summers at home: the summer before my senior year of high school, and the summer before I went to Niger my junior year of college. In both instances, I worked at the Petaluma Whole Foods in the espresso bar/juice bar/bakery department. My love of coffee was well established before then (thanks to a job at a drive through coffee shop, i.e. the best job ever!), but behind the Whole Foods counter was where my smoothie experience began, and where my love of cake developed. I was the girl who put out samples. All the time. Because I like sampling, and I like to make other people happy with cake/cookie/pie samples too!

And I still love making people treats. There’s something really satisfying and oddly fulfilling about coming up with an idea, executing that idea, and then watching people appreciate it. 

To me, that’s what baking is all about – spreading the cake love! Because what’s the point of making something if it isn’t going to be enjoyed?

I remembered a Peach Chantilly Cake from Whole Foods…and it involved mascarpone filling…so I took those two components as my inspiration and got started baking. I made the same white cake that I used for the Oreo Cake (sans Oreos of course). I then layered sliced peaches with mascarpone cheese filling, and then covered the whole shebang with whipped cream frosting. The cake is pretty sweet and so are the peaches, so I minimized the sugar in the filling and whipped cream. Overall it balanced out to be light and delicious. Exactly the summery dessert I was going for!

I made this cake for a rooftop house dinner (we grilled shrimp kabobs – yum!). I knew the cake was going to be good, but oh man, I don’t think I was prepared for the extreme awesomeness. One of my housemates said it was the best cake he’s ever had. After a couple delectable bites I just couldn’t restrain myself: Guys, not to toot my own horn, but oh-my-goodness-I’m-going-to-fall-out-of-my-chair this cake is awesome!

I hope you make this. And I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Oh, and I should add that the Whipped Cream Frosting came dangerously close to being another blue cake meltdown…but then it miraculously turned around and is now my new favorite frosting! I originally followed a recipe that used gelatin to stabilize the whipped cream. But then the gelatin got too hard before I added it to the whipped cream, and just overall didn’t work. So the second time around, I didn’t cook the gelatin as long. As I panicked about the impending meltdown (and Photoman laughed hysterically) I added corn starch and meringue powder in copious amounts. And it worked!!! I cannot get over how excited I am about that particular success!

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 2/3 cup sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature

  • Preheat over to 350F. Grease and flour two 8-9 inch pans.
  • In a large bowl cream the butter until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla and mix to combine.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix until integrated. Stir in sugar. With an electric mixer on low speed, beat for 30 seconds. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  • Add the egg whites to the rest of the mixture. Beat for 2 more minutes.
  • Fill 2 8 or 9-inch cake pans. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.
  • Once cakes are cooled, freeze them for at least 1 hour (to make cutting them in half easier).

16 oz. mascarpone cheese
¼ cup heavy cream
5 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla
3 peaches, thinly sliced (peel 2 before slicing, leave the peal on 1 to use to decorate the top of the cake.

  • Beat cheese, cream, sugar, and vanilla with a mixer until smooth.
Assemble Cake:

  • Cut the two cakes in half (to make a 4-layer cake).
  • Spread mascarpone filling on the first layer, then cover with sliced peaches. Repeat with each layer.

Whipped Cream Frosting:
¼ cup cold water
1 Teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon meringue powder
2 Tablespoons cornstarch

  • Chill mixing bowl and beaters for at least 15 minutes before using. Place water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water and allow to soften 5 minutes.
  • Dissolve gelatin by microwaving for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes; gelatin must be liquid but not warm when added to cream.
  • Remove bowl and beaters from refrigerator and pour in cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat together just until beater marks begin to show distinctly.
  • Add gelatin mixture to cream, pouring in a steady stream while beating constantly.
  • Add meringue powder and cornstarch. Beat until stiff peaks form (this took about 5 minutes. Don’t give up – keep beating!).
  • Frost the outside of the cake. Decorate top of the cake with skin-on peach slices.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (preferable longer) before cutting.