peach brown sugar cake

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the theme of this post is: don't be like me.  don't forget to bring your butter and cream cheese to room temperature.  don't forget to add the peaches.  and, for all that is holy, don't forget to add the flour.  we are not inventing flourless peach cake around here.  grody.

that said, all of those things happened to me when i made this cake.  an audience of distracting girlfriends discussing vampire novels and work drama and some cocktails featuring passion fruit juice, limoncello and blackberries may have been to blame. 

or i'm just a ditz.

in any event.  the cake turned out just fine.  there are few problems you can't solve.  let's start with ice cold butter that miraculously needs to become room temp butter so you can cream it properly! 

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yep, that's what you do.  chop it up.  let it hang out in your kitchen while you have a cocktail and make dinner.  know what goes great with zucchini soup?  grilled cheese. nom nom.

now you're ready to cream.  here's the thing about creaming butter and sugar. you aren't just combining ingredients, or it would be called mixing.  what you're really trying to do is to aerate your batter – fill it up with little air bubbles that your leavener (baking soda and/or baking powder) will make bigger.  That is what will create a light fluffy yummy cake. 

letting your butter come to room temp is like a pre-dinner cocktail.  it just makes dinner better.  it creates better air bubbles.  and room temp butter just gives a little when you press it.  it isn't half melted cause you nuked it for a few seconds too long.  not that i would judge, cause i almost forgot the flour.  and the peaches.  good lord.

ok, now our room temperature butter is getting to know the white and brown sugar.  i used dark brown sugar, which gave the cake (and later the frosting) a lovely flavor but a relatively unappetizing uniformly brown color.  don't be like me – use dark for your cake and light for your frosting.

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again, i ask for your patience.  cream at low speed – not above medium on your electric mixer.  and you need to give the butter and sugar about 3-5 minutes.  if you've never creamed before, it's going to feel like forever.  pour yourself another cocktail.

eventually, the color will change.  check that out!  it got all light and creamy and fluffy!

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these are really atrocious photos.  light!  i need light!

moving on.  at this point, you add, in stages, all the other ingredients.  seriously.  ALL the other ingredients.  don't be like me.  i put some adorable orange polka dotted cupcake wrappers into my cupcake tin and filled them with batter.  then i turned and saw the pile of chopped peaches on my cutting board.  ever resourceful, i just stirred a spoonful of peaches into each cupcake.  victory!  into the oven!

then i noticed the bowl of sifted flour on the counter.  it wasn't pretty, but we eventually ended up here:

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not too shabby.

while the cake is baking, make your frosting.  this is really magical frosting.  a little bit of tang from the cream cheese, and true, caramely, brown sugar goodness.  but it needs some time to set up in the fridge – which can happen while your cake is cooling! 

check out those chunks of peach.  this is a really lovely moist cake due in part to the fruit and the sour cream.  the bits of peaches are small enough to infuse the cake with subtle peachiness and still give you bright pops of flavor.

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there are a couple of keys to a smooth layer cake.  smitten kitchen – also the authoress of this divine recipe – has a great post on it here.  today, i will demonstrate how to frost a crumb-free cake!

start with a base layer.  not super pretty.

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but stick the ake in the fridge to firm up the base frosting layer – i gave it about 20 minutes – and then your second layer will go on smoothly and without any crumbs.

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kids, this cake is BROWN.  but the raspberries sort of saved the day.  next time, i'd also add some raspberries as a filling.  they kick up the sweet-tart of the frosting and break up the sweet-sweet of the cake.

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Peach Brown Sugar Cake

From Smitten Kitchen.  See this recipe baked as intended here.

Makes 24 to 28 cupcakes – or one 9 inch layer cake

  • 3 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose, worked fine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) buttermilk, sour cream or full-fat yogurt
  • 3 large peaches, peeled, cored, and chopped smallish

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 28 muffin cups with paper liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition, and then the vanilla. Gently mix in the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the peach chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of cupcakes comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  The cake layers were done in about 25 to 27 minutes.

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch and powdered sugar. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture and vanilla, beat until frosting is smooth and light. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator until it thickens back up a bit, about 30 minutes, then spread or dollop on cooled cupcakes.

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