Peach Blueberry Cake

This recipe has so much potential. And I so badly want to rave about it. I mean, I have been snacking on it morning and night for the past two days. But something, I must confess, is not quite right.

This recipe appeared in the August 2005 issue of Gourmet. If you care to hear what other people think of the recipe, you can read the 143 reviews posted on Epicurious. Online, I just discovered, the recipe is prefaced with this:

We’ve received some letters from readers complaining about a burned crust when making the peach blueberry cake, so we ran through the recipe two more times. Baked in a standard light-colored metal pan, the cake was perfect; baked in a dark metal pan, however, it burned — be aware that the cake’s high sugar content makes it more susceptible to burning at high heat.

A burnt crust was precisely the problem I ran into. The recipe calls for baking the cake at 375ºF for 1 hour and 45 minutes. 1 hour and 45 minutes! Does that sound crazy to you? I mean, sometimes I wonder what people (recipe writers) are thinking. I baked my cake at 350ºF for about 1 hour and 15 minutes because it smelt too good to leave in the oven any longer and the fruit looked bubbly and delicious. You can’t see the pastry below the layer of stewing fruit, so there is no way of knowing if “the crust is golden” as the recipe suggests as a determining doneness factor.

When I bake this cake again — which I am determined to do before summer is over — I will bake it for one hour and see if that improves the texture of the crust, which in addition to being slightly burnt tasted slightly dry. When I bake it again, however, I might use a different pastry all together. My mother suggested using a shortbread pastry recipe from Chez Panisse Desserts, which she adores and which could be the perfect substitute for the current dough. All I know is this: whatever pastry is used in this dessert must be strong enough to support a thick layer of juicy, oozing fruit. And in an ideal world, it must be moist and delicious, too.

For all of you bakers out there, any suggestions?

Cake just before entering the oven:

Cake after resting for 20 minutes out of the oven:

Peach Blueberry Cake
Serves 8

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 stick (½ cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 lb. firm-ripe large peaches (about 4), halved lengthwise, pitted, and each half cut lengthwise into fourth or fifths
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
pinch salt

1. Make pastry. Pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with pea-sized butter lumps. Add egg and vanilla and pulse just until the dough clumps into a ball, about 15 pulses.

2. With floured fingertips press dough onto bottom of an ungreased springform pan. Chill pastry in pan until firm, about 10 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss until the fruit is evenly coated. Pour filling over chilled pastry and cover pan loosely with foil. Bake for about an hour, until filling is bubbling.

4. Transfer cake in pan to a rack and cool uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove sides of pan and cool longer or serve immediately with vanilla ice cream.

The pastry for this cake comes together quickly with just a few pulses in the food processor. Of course, it can be made by hand as well.


  1. rachel says

    your much too hard on this recipe. i quite liked its crumbly crumb. but I know what you mean. something a little moister would be delicious.

  2. hot garlic says

    Oh! Sad! I have had a few recipes like that lately, they seemed unbeatable in concept, but 2 of them especially come to mind as falling completely flat. I can see where you’re coming from, because the concept sounds GREAT to me, but if it doesn’t quite turn out just right, that all means nothing, right?

  3. katie says

    It does look delicious. You already shortened the bake time and lowered the temperature, that about wraps up my expertise.

    We’ve got power and water at the same time here!

  4. Nancy says

    this recipe reminds me of Marian Burros recipe for a plum tart;with 1 stick butter, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 3/4 c sugar 2 eggs and then the fruit, sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar and cinnamon. It’s not as high as yours, less flour?, but is a tender cake with fruit. It’s baked at 350 for an hour but I think I pull it earlier to stop the browning and I add a dollop of sour cream to batter for tenderer cake. This is a too famous recipe from 24years ago NYTimes. I know, my son was born the day it was written and have made it ever since. She uses prune plums on top but your choice of fruit will work. Can’t wait for you to send a piece on over. I am putting on the coffee as we speak!

  5. Grace says

    an hour and 45 minutes does sound outrageous! regardless of its moistness and/or burntness, i agree that the cake has potential. it sure looks drool-inducing. :)

  6. Emiline says

    Oooh pretty.

    Okay. So, as a baker, I can tell you this.
    I’ve NEVER baked a cake that long! Holy cow!

    That’s crazy. I’m glad you took it out early! You might have had a fire.

  7. RecipeGirl says

    That’s crazy! I HATE when you bake something as directed (or even under) and it just doesn’t turn out quite right. Especially when it looks like it might be a really delicious one such as this! Did you bake it in a light pan?

  8. Any Little Reason says

    What perfect timing…I have a bag of frozen blueberries and I’ve been looking for a new recipe to use them in…I’ll give this a shot!

  9. farida says

    I can never have enough fruit cake recipes:) so this one is being added to my pile right now:) Looks so good! love it! a must try, for sure.

  10. farida says

    I just printed the recipe, but I made a note to myself reminding to watch out for the baking time:) I will probably play with the recipe a little before I actually cook it, although not sure how at the moment:) Your cake doesn’t look that bad to me. I am thinking maybe baking time was a problem.

  11. Alex says

    When I first looked at the picture of the cake it looked like an upside down cake. That’s what I thought it was until I started reading. You’ve probably got this worked out by now but I’m still going to suggest a slight reduction in the sugar of the fruit mixture, adding a little bit of butter, and baking it like an upside down cake.

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