Italian Peach Cakes are light and sweet desserts reserved for special occasions. They present beautifully and are fairly easy to bake and construct, if you have the right tools. The cake and custard are simple and flavored with Peach Brandy.
Our Fante’s recipe was developed by Jeanne Fante. In this post, we included a different method of decorating that involves a little less work and a little more liqueur! “Decorating” the peach cakes is done with Alkermes liqueur, granulated sugar and a peach leaf. You, too, can make beautiful and delicious peach cakes to impress guests at your next special event!
This recipe requires two liqueurs that I do not have on hand in my home. Luckily, it is easy to make them using flavors from La Torinese. To make a liqueur using the flavors, combine 2 cups of tax paid alcohol (I used vodka I had in the house), 2 cups of water and the 0.5 oz. bottle of the La Torinese flavor. I did this to make both the Peach Brandy and Alkermes liqueurs, yielding 1 quart of each liqueur – plenty to complete the recipe and keep on hand for next time.
Step 2: Cooking the Custard
The custard filling may be made ahead of time and refrigerated, for ease of finishing the cakes. The recipe is flavored with peach brandy and a simple one step process. The trick here is to heat the custard slowly while continually whisking it together. The custard thickens all at once, and takes only a few minutes to cook, so be careful not to overcook and over thicken it. Set it aside to cool, and it will be ready for assembling your peach cakes.
Step 3: Batter Up
The cake is a basic batter and flavored using the peach brandy. Prepare as a normal cake batter. To prep the peach cake mold, I used Baker’s Joy and sprayed the bottom of each mold, then used a pastry brush to evenly distribute the Baker’s Joy across the surface of the hemisphere molds so that they were well greased with minimal effort. I scooped the batter into the molds using a #50 portion scoop. Pro tip: between baking, keep the head of the scoop submerged in a glass of water between baking to keep the dough from drying out under the scoop (which is likely to cause it to break or run off track).
This recipe yields about 16 peach cakes, which means you will need to bake 32 halves, or 4 full peach cake mold trays. It can be done using one mold, but to cut down on baking time, multiple molds are helpful.
Step 4: To nail, or not to nail?
There are two ways to bake this recipe. The first is to simply bake the hemispheres, allow them to cool and scoop out the centers to create the “pit.” The second is to partially bake the hemispheres and then to insert greased peach nails into the dough and finish baking. This method creates the “pit” during baking and leaves you with perfect pitted hemispheres without any messy scooping.
For the sake of comparison, I used both methods in making my peach cakes. While I appreciated not having to pause baking after 12 minutes to insert greased peach nails, taking the extra moment to do so resulted in better looking and more structurally sound peach halves, and left my table free of crumbs from scooping. I highly recommend using peach nails!
Simply spray each peach nail with a quick spritz of Baker’s Joy and use a pastry brush to make sure the entire surface is greased. Pop open the oven door and press the peach nails into place in the center of each peach half, and then allow to finish baking for another 3-4 minutes until finished, but not browned.
The cakes will remain a delicate, yellow color like the inside of a perfect peach. Once cool, remove the nails and the cakes from the molds, set aside, and repeat until you finish baking all your batter. If you skip using peach nails, you will need to core the centers of your peach cakes to create the “pits” which you will fill with custard. As you can see from the photo on the left, the halves baked with the peach nails are much more uniform and will ultimately be easier to pair.
Step 5: Putting it All Together
Once all your peach halves are baked (and scooped if not using peach nails), line them up in an assembly line. To complete your mise-en-place you will need the custard filling, granulated sugar for sprinkling, a bowl with Alkermes liqueur, baking dish (or something that can catch extra sugar), pastry brush, #100 portion scoop and the peach leaves.
Dip your pastry brush the Alkermes liqueur, and brush the inside of each peach pit to give it some color, just like the pit of a real peach. Be careful not to soak the cake – only use enough liqueur to impart a blush of color. Then, scoop the custard using a #100 scoop (or a teaspoon) into each peach half.
Putting the halves together is where you will see the most benefit to using all the proper tools: using a portion scoop when putting you batter into the pan, baking with peach nails and portion scooping the filling. By baking the same amount of batter for each cake half and using a peach nail to uniformly create a pit, all your peach halves will be the same size. Lightly press two filled peach halves together. You formed your peach!
Quickly roll each peach in the Alkermes liqueur. You do not want to drench the peach cake, only wet the surface to provide some coloring and create a surface for the sugar to adhere. Immediately remove the peach cake from the liqueur and place it into the baking dish. Sprinkle generously on all sides with granulated sugar. Top the cake with a peach leaf and it is ready to serve and enjoy!
Peach Cakes Recipe & Instructions
By Jeanne Fante
Makes about 16 Peach Cakes
1/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon peach brandy or .5 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons peach brandy or .5 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
TO PREPARE DOUGH
– Blend butter, sugar and eggs and mix well.
– Stir together flour, salt and baking powder.
– Combine moist and dry mixtures.
– Add milk and flavoring.
– Blend well.
TO PREPARE MOLD
– Grease and flour each cavity of the Peach Mold and the outside of the Nail Heads.
TO BAKE DOUGH
– Preheat the oven to 350° F.
– Drop 1 tablespoon of batter, full and dripping, into each cavity of the mold.
– Bake for about 12 minutes.
– When cakes have risen, and a slight, still white “crust” begins to form, insert nail heads, cup down, in the center of each cake to make a depression that will look like the peach cavity when cooking is done.
– Bake 2 or 3 minutes more.
– Cakes are done as soon as they start to pull away from the edge.
– Remove the cakes from the oven before any browning occurs.
TO PREPARE THE CUSTARD
– Combine the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat.
– Whisk continuously, until custard thickens.
– (Vanilla pudding may be substituted.)
– Remove the nail heads from the cakes.
– Remove the cakes from the cavities of the mold.
– Using a small brush, paint “pit” area with alkermes liquor.
– Brush the flat side of each cake with the gelatin mixture.
– Fill every “pit” area with a teaspoon of custard.
– Join together 2 cakes, slightly off-center, to form a peach.
– Roll each peach in Alkermes liqueur, being careful not to soak.
– This gives the peaches a light coloring and, when dry, some firmness.
– Sprinkle with sugar for the coating, rolling in your hands also to press sugar into the moist cake, bringing out the color.
– Decorate with a leaf and allow to dry.