Aug 08 Dessert of the Month – Peach-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake

by Susan

Verdict: Marthable.
Real Person Alterations Needed: 1

I actually just made an apricot-cherry upside-down cake from Martha’s baking handbook, but that one was actually both easier and better than this one. It was also loaded with almond flavor, and I will eat anything almond anytime anywhere.

This Peach-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake dessert of the month was really one of her simpler ones, though. The Strawberry Galette with basil cream and fried basil from June 08 took all day, but this one was easily doable in an evening while I made dinner. Plus I got to use my new 12″ cast iron skillet.

Lavender was the only obstacle for this recipe. Martha cheerfully makes me feel like a lazy idiot by reminding me that “fresh lavender is available at farmers’ markets fro mid- to late summer.” Well, guess what, both my local market and our branch of Penzey’s was ready and willing to give me dried lavender on the cheap. (about $3.50 at Penzey’s for a bottle that will most likely last me my entire life and in bulk at Ellwood Thompson’s — from what I could tell they were identical in quality). I admit I was cautious to use as much lavender as she recommends when substituting (heaven forbid) the dry stuff. I made a NIgella rosemary cake once and I kept feeling like I was eating roast trout for dessert, so I used only a teaspoon instead of 1.5. And I gotta tell you, the lavender aspect of this rustic cake was probably the most delicious. I wish I had used more, even if it reminded me too much of the sachets my mother used to put in our dresser drawers.

As you can see, my peaches weren’t quite as uniform as Martha’s.

You just spread the cornmeal/butter/lavender batter on top of the sauteed peaches, stick in the oven, and come out with a cake.

My finest moment during this dessert was when I read the part that said “Tap bottom of skillet to release peaches, and carefully remove skillet. Reposition peach slices on top of cake.” Oh ho, I didn’t even need to do that step, because it came out like a dream, peaches intact.

As far as the dessert itself goes, it was doable but a little dry and boring. I had one slice and then told my husband to take the rest to work. He returned home with an empty plate, though, so it must not have been too bad. I probably wouldn’t make it again.

But I would eat it again if you made it for me.

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