My Love/Hate for Peach Pound Cake - No. 142
How one recipe follows me through life & why I want you to bake it.
HAVE YOU EVER HAD A FRIEND, A PET, a boss, even someone in your own family, who in spite of being absolutely charming was just plain evil?
Out to get you?
As soon as you recommend them, go to bat for them, include them, they disappoint you by actions, words, but more to the point, make you look like a fool again?
Don’t worry, I’m not going to cue Reba to start singing cheatin’ heart songs. I’ll tell you what this has to do with pound cake…
Peach Pound Cake. It is the worst/best friend of a recipe I’ve ever had. And I have written about it for 37 years.
Peach Pound Cake caused a big stir. The Atlanta Constitution, Dec. 30, 1985.
It surely did!
I created this cake in 1985 with early-season Alabama peaches, honestly too underripe and lackluster to warrant baking with, but they baked into a beautiful cake. So I shared the recipe in the newspaper that summer. Yet, due to my error—or it could have been the layout team as newspaper pages were literally cut and pasted back then—the six eggs were omitted.
So we ran a correction the next day. Thus, the big stir…
And readers called and wrote to tell us—before emails obviously—that this cake was either the most delicious cake or the most horrid they had baked. One lady, following the recipe with the missing eggs, guessed it was six, baked the cake, and served it to all her friends. She was at the beach and wasn’t even using her faithful home oven and it worked. Others said the cake was heavy, wet, a little gummy on top.
But it ended up being the most popular recipe of the year so people kept talking about it.
I baked that cake again later in the summer with ripe freestone peaches.
And yes, this time they were from Georgia. And I made sure to finely chop and drain them well before adding them to the batter.
I even reduced the sugar in the cake to make it less tender, wondering if too much sugar was causing the cake to not have the structure it needed to support the peaches. I reduced the sour cream a bit, too. In short, I pulled my hair out.
And the cake worked. It was good. It’s always been good, just problematic.
I had shelved any desire to reconnect with this pound cake until earlier this year when I was selecting pound cake recipes to go in my new book.
I missed the Peach Pound Cake. But did I want to go down that road again?
To make matters worse, Kyle Tibbs Jones, my friend at Bitter Southerner, called and said they were publishing a book on Peaches and asked if I’d like to contribute a recipe. Sean Brock was sharing his pickled peaches.
I thought for a minute which recipes she’d like best.
‘’Well, there are two recipes I could share,’’ I said. “One is a pound cake and the other is peach preserves that my aunt Mary Jo used to cook in the sun.’’
I was sure she was going to pick those preserves.
‘’I’ll take the pound cake,’’ Kyle replied.
And so I pulled out the pound cake recipe that weekend and baked it. But I didn’t bake it exactly like I had before. I scrutinized the recipe again, trying to make up for those juicy peaches—of course they were going to be juicy, it was summer for goodness sakes! And the large eggs looked really large. Do you know what I mean? Where are these eggs coming from, a dinosaur?
So I baked the cake with five eggs and folded those drained peaches in by hand. It was like waiting for disaster. But it wasn’t. It worked.
Yet, I confessed to Kyle that I didn’t feel comfortable sharing this recipe because it was so all over the place. Much too needy depending on the juiciness and ripeness of the peaches, not to mention the flour, size of the eggs, the pan and oven. Plus, would I have to continue to field questions from Bitter Southerner readers about this cake?
She gracefully accepted the preserves.