To crumble the panko crumbs, place them in a zip lock bag and crush them with a rolling pin. If you can’t find panko, you can substitute ¼ cup unseasoned breadcrumbs. The peach grappa can be replaced with orange liqueur. If using fresh peak season peaches, omit the peach schnapps.
- 2 ½ pounds peaches, halved, cored, and cut into ½-inch wedges
- 5 tablespoons of peach liqueur
- 4 teaspoons of lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons plus ⅓ cup (5 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (3½ ounces) canned light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and allowed to cool
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- ⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs, finely chopped
1. Place oven rack in center position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. Grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Gently place 24 peach cloves in a bowl with 2 tablespoons brandy, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; Put aside.
2. Cut remaining peach wedges crosswise into 3 pieces. In a large bowl, gently toss the pieces with the remaining 3 tablespoons of brandy, the remaining 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and the 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Arrange the peach pieces in a single layer on the prepared pan and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the juices begin to thicken and caramelize around the edges of the pan. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the peaches cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a bowl, whisk together ⅓ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs until thick and well blended, about 45 seconds. Slowly add melted butter until blended. Add sour cream, vanilla and ¼ teaspoon almond extract; Beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
4. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Using a tilted spatula, spread batter evenly over sides of pan and smooth surface. Sprinkle chopped panko evenly over cooled peach pieces, tossing gently to brush. Arrange the peaches in an even layer over the batter in the pan and gently press the peaches into the batter. Carefully spread the remaining batter over the peach pieces and level. Arrange peach slices in a ring, slightly overlapping, on top of dough and place smaller segments in center. In a small bowl, mix remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and remaining teaspoon almond extract until sugar is moistened. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over cake.
5. Bake cake until center is set and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour, rotating pan halfway through baking. Transfer the skillet to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Pass a thin knife between the cake and the walls of the mold; Remove the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely for 2 to 3 hours before serving.
Storing peaches in the refrigerator seems like a good way to extend their shelf life, but unless the fruits are ripe, low temperatures can cause their flesh to turn floury. Storing fruit at a temperature of 40 degrees or lower deactivates an enzyme that breaks down its pectin during ripening. If this is done before the pulp is ripe, the pectin will remain intact and the texture of the pulp will be floury. The lesson: keep the peaches on the counter.