Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sweet Peach Olive Oil Cake

As a newcomer to both the South and a tropical climate, I find myself now on the lookout for dessert recipes that are a bit lighter than the chocolate lava bombs and turtle cheesecakes that normally sustain us Midwesterners through the long winter. That's precisely why the most useful recipe to me in the June 2013 issue of Food and Wine Magazine (focused almost exclusively on grilling) had nothing to do with cooking meat over a fire. In a brief interview with the latest Top Chef winner Kristen Kish, she included three of her favorite dessert creations, one of which caught my eye: a sweet peach olive oil cake that seemed tailor-made for a Florida pool party. As it turns out, we just happened to have some friends coming over for a get-together that week, giving me an ideal opportunity to try it out.

Chef Kish made an upscale version of this recipe with fennel pollen instead of peaches as part of her winning menu on the Top Chef finale. For those of us unaccustomed to working with fennel pollen, the peaches make a fine substitute. Unfortunately, I wasn't aware that fresh peaches weren't in season yet, so I had to make do with the canned variety, guessing that a single can of peach halves in light syrup (I sliced the halves into thin pieces and discarded most of the liquid) would do the trick. The finished cake came out of the oven looking pretty good and tasting strongly of, well, olive oil, which one should expect I suppose since there was a cup and a half of it in the batter. Without any butter, this dessert definitely lacked the density that would normally weigh someone down on a hot day, although I would have liked it to have a more prominent peach flavor (next time maybe use 2 cans instead of one? Drive to Georgia if need be for fresh peaches?). Fortunately, our guests (even a few of the very young ones) didn't have any problem polishing off their slices - as a result, I have a new addition to my tropical dessert rolodex...

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