I’m not sure when I first tasted home-made spiced peaches. It could have been at Grandma’s house or a church potluck. Or maybe one of dad’s parishioners stopped by with a canning-jar full of the luscious things as a thank-you gift. But the flavor memory of sweet peach exoticized with clove goes deep. To my mind, putting spiced peach with perfect pound cake, a little mascarpone and a drizzle of the rose-colored syrup, is a heavenly thing to do. The combination has a permanent spot on our family-favorite recipes roster.
To make the peaches, I started with a recipe I’d found in my very-thick 1902 “Woman’s Favorite Cookbook,” written by Annie R. Gregory, “assisted by one thousand homekeepers” and published by H.H.Taylor out of Bay City, MI. It called for nine pounds of peaches, five pounds of sugar, a pint of vinegar, and cloves, and assumed—as a lot of old recipes did–that I would know just what to do from there With a little practice, I figured it out. The idea for the whipped cream pound cake started with a recipe I’d tried from a country-singers cookbook: The basics were there, but the recipe needed some changes to improve the texture and flavor. Because the cake has whipped cream as an ingredient, I decided not to plate the finished dessert with more. Instead? A schmear of mascarpone cheese mixed with a little of the spiced peach syrup is very nice.
Makes 1, tall, 9 x 5-inch pound cake; 3 quarts spiced peaches
Spiced Peaches Ingredients
- 24 small-to-medium-sized firm peaches
- 3 pounds sugar
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 48 cloves
Whipped-Cream Pound Cake Ingredients
- 1 cup heavy cream whipped to make just-under 2 cups whipped cream
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound)
- 2 1/2 cups granulated pure-cane sugar
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups cake flour
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 of a nutmeg, grated
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Spiced Mascarpone Ingredients
- 1/2 cup very cold mascarpone cheese
- 2 Tbsp spiced peach syrup
- Make spiced peaches: In a large, heavy stockpot combine sugar and vinegar. Stir over medium low heat until sugar begins to dissolve. Poke two cloves–one on each side of each fruit–into each clean, whole peach. Add all of the peaches to the pot. Stir to coat with the sugar vinegar mixture. Turn up heat to medium. Heat just to boiling. Stir peaches again. Cover pot. Reduce heat to a low simmer and simmer, stirring occasionally to rotate the top peaches to the bottom of the pot, until peaches are tender and skins slip off easily. Turn off heat. Let peaches stand overnight. Pour all into a very large strainer (in batches, if necessary) saving the syrup. One by one, remove and discard the cloves and skins from the peaches. Place 8 peaches into each of three sterilized quart-sized canning jars. Pour syrup through a fine strainer back into the pot. Heat to boiling. Pour hot syrup over peaches into each jar. (You will have extra syrup you can pour into another jar to save and use for other purposes.) Close jars. At this point, you can process according to Ball canning instructions for shelf-stable canned fruit. OR, allow jars of fruit to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.
- Make whipped-cream pound cake: Whip cream. Store in refrigerator, covered.Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, whip butter and sugar together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing a full minute for each egg. Combine flour with salt. Alternate adding flours and whipped cream to the butter sugar mixture. Stir in vanilla and grated nutmeg. Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with parchment paper lengthwise and widthwise, leaving an overhang of paper all the way around. Fill loaf pan with batter. Place pan in a cold oven, rack set in the middle. Turn oven to 300 degrees and bake for 1 1/2 hours without opening oven. Open oven to check progress. From here, bake cake up to 1/2 hour (or even a little more) until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out dry. The cake will be domed quite a bit over the top of the pan. Using the parchment paper overhangs, remove cake from pan and cool.
- Make mascarpone schmear: Using a fork stir 2 Tbsp of the spiced syrup from the peaches with 1/2 cup of mascarpone cheese.
- Plate dessert: Using a brush or a spatula, smooth a schmear of mascarpone onto each serving plate. Slice a piece of cake and cube. Place cubes of pound cake on each serving plate. Remove a few peaches from the syrup. Cut into small pieces. Sprinkle these over the pound cake. Drizzle all with a little more spiced peach syrup.