Sunday, May 1, 2016

Southern Cotillion Peach Cake

After making this cake, I decided to deem it worthy of "high society" by naming it a Cotillion cake. For those that are unaware of the reference, a Cotillion is a formal party or dance that introduces a young girl into society and an opportunity for the father to introduce their daughter to proper suitors. Prior to the party, the girls have attended finishing school for learning social graces. This is something that came about in the South.

Regarding the cake, I believe that any special ocassion cake would need to be white. White makes for a good base to showcase any additional flavors. While you can add other flavors to chocolate, chocolate is not really subtle, so balancing with other flavors is more difficult.

I know you are wondering what makes this cake so special. Tasting it would truly tell you, but since this is in writing I will need to describe. The cake itself has the flavor of peach. The primary flavor  ingredients are peach cream liqueur, freeze dried fruit powder and a touch of almond. The cake is moist, since it is made with oil instead of butter. Between the cake layers is a filling made with peaches and then a layer of buttercream type icing with almond paste. The buttercream icing on the outside is flavored with the liqueur and fruit powder. The outer sides of the cake has slivered almonds pressed into the icing.

At the end of the post, you will find useful tips when making this cake as well as all other layer cakes. As with any recipe, careful evaluation is needed, because opinions vary on flavor and texture. The one thing I wanted to bring up is the almond paste-type filling. Almond paste does not break down smooth when mixing. This means that the filling imparts a nutty type texture which goes good with the fruit. However, should you want something smoother, you are welcome to use just regular buttercream and flavor it with almond extract.

Southern Cotillion Peach Cake
by flourtrader

4 eggs
1 cup of vegetable oil
1/4 cup sparkling white wine
3/4 cup peach liqueur
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs peach fruit powder
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour 
2 cups sugar

Ingredients/2 kinds of filling
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
3 cups peeled diced peaches (fresh or thawed & drained frozen)
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp water
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter
6-7 oz almond paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup peach liqueur
2 tsp fruit powder

3 or more cups of buttercream icing
2 tbs peach liqueur
1 tbs fruit powder
1 1/2-2 cups slivered almonds (if desired)

Prepare two 9 inch cake pans by greasing the interior with butter and then lining the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the face up side of the parchment paper and then dust the interior of the pans with flour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

The peach filling will need to be made first, since it has to chill before use. Fill a small saucepan with brown sugar, 1 1/2 cups of diced peaches and lemon juice. Place saucepan over medium high heat and stir together. Let mixture come to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the filling into a blender and puree. Fill the same saucepan with the puree and add the remining fruit. Place over heat and let simmer again for about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water. Then pour into the peach mixture. Let cook on low, stirring until thickened.  Pour into a heat proof bowl and place in fridge to chill. 

Now it is time to make the cake layers. Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the eggs and sugar. Beat until well blended. Remove bowl from mixer and add the oil, champagne, peach liqueur and almond extract and stir together. In another bowl, sift together the flour, fruit powder, salt and baking powder. Fold the sifted ingredients into the liquid. Then place the bowl back into the stand mixer and beat at low speed until no lumps remain, about 1 minute.

Pour batter evenly into the two pans. Bake until the top is golden or a tester comes out clean. This should take about 35-40 minutes. Let cakes cool in pans on a rack for about 10 minutes. Invert and let cool another 10 minutes and remove parchment paper.

For the nutty filling, grate the almond paste into a bowl using a cheese grater and set aside. Then fill the bowl of a stand mixer with confectioners sugar and butter. Beat until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add the grated almond paste and salt. Beat on low for 30 seconds then on medium high for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and beat for 1 minute more. Chill until ready to use. Take out a small bowl and then mix the fruit powder with the peach liqueur and set aside.

For the icing, mix together fruit powder and liquer in a small bowl. Then make your standard butter cream icing. Then pour peach flavor mixture into icing and beat until evenly distributed. Add additional confectioners sugar to reach desired thickness. Chill until ready to use.

Once the cake layers are completely cool, they are ready to be assembled into a delicious cake. Choose which of the layers you will be using for the bottom. Brush the top surface of the bottom layer with 1/2 of the fruit powder/liqueur blend. Then do the same on the other layer, this time on the bottom side of the top layer. Let mixture soak in for about 10 minutes. Place one layer in the center of a cake board or cake plate.

Take out the chilled peach filling and smooth it over the top surface of the cake, being careful to leave a small border around the edge. Then carefully smooth the nutty filling over the peach filling. Stack the top layer on top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for about 1 hour.

Once chilling time is over, remove cake and frost as desired. If desired, press slivered almonds into sides of cake by the handful.

Tips and Notes:

1. Soaking a top cake layer on the bottom side instead of top insures that the icing on the top will be easy to spread. If your cake is wet on top, it makes for a slippery layer and is very difficult to ice.

2. Always measure your batter to insure even layers. "Eyeballing" it lends itself to uneven cake layers.

3. Invest in cake strips to go around your pans when baking so they will bake evenly and not be domed on top.

4. Fruit powder can be hard to find. However, I found packaged freeze dried slices of peaches that were called "fruit crisps." They are perfect for grinding into powder. Do not make the mistake of buying just dried fruit-the consistency is too gummy.

5. Chilling the two layers together with the filling helps prior to icing to stabilize the layers.This is good to do with any cake that has a filling different from thick buttercream.

6. This recipe was made with fresh Florida peaches. It has not been tested with frozen peaches, which may have excess water so more of the cornstarch/water mixture may be needed. You may need to experiment a bit when using frozen peaches.
                                    **LAST YEAR:Raspberry Picnic Pie**