Citrus Angel Food Cake with Peaches

At this time of year, when juicy ripe peaches are plentiful, I try to come up with creative ways to make use of the sweet fruit. This month, my local co-op had a bin of the most beautiful, fragrant peaches — I think maybe the best crop I've had in years — and I couldn't wait to put them to good use. I cooked them with just a touch of honey and a vanilla bean. This light-as-air angel food (great for these hot end-of-summer days) has a healthy dose of citrus zest, which nicely balances the sweet peaches.

Citrus Angel Food Cake with Peaches
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Skill: Intermediate
Ingredients:

Cake
1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (50 g) confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon salt
12 egg whites, at room temperature
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon and/or orange zest
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon orange extract (not oil)

Peaches
10 medium-sized ripe peaches
1/4 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
To bake the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, pulverize the sugars and cornstarch until very fine. In a large bowl, add half the sugar mixture (reserve the other half for later) with the salt and cake flour. Sift the sugar/salt/flour mixture three times, then set aside.

In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange extract and cream of tartar with the whisk attachment, on high speed, until the whites are frothy. Slowly add the reserved sugar-cornstarch mixture to the whites and continue to whip until medium peaks form.

Sift 1/4 of the sugar/flour mixture over the whipped whites. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold them together. Repeat with another 1/4 of the sugar/flour and gently fold them together. Continue in this way until all the sugar/flour is incorporated.

Spoon the batter into an ungreased angel food pan.

Run a knife or spatula through the batter to get any large air bubbles out.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

Immediately invert the pan onto a wine bottle to prevent the cake from compressing.

To make the peaches:

To blanch and peel the peaches: Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. Cut an "X" on the bottom of each peach, and place them into the boiling water. Allow them to sit in the boiling water for up to 1 minute.

Place the peaches in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Use your fingers or a paring knife to remove the skin.

Pit and slice the peaches. Place them in a pot with the honey and vanilla bean. Cook until the fruit is soft and the juices start to thicken to the consistency of maple syrup.

Remove and place in a bowl. They can be served hot, room temperature or cold.

Remove the cake and place it on a serving plate. Use an angel food comb to cut the cake, then serve it with the peaches.

Click here for the printable Citrus Angel Food Cake with Peaches recipe.

Zoë François, author of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day  and Artisan Pizza and Flatbreads in 5 Minutes a Day , studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She now calls Minneapolis her home, where she has worked with some of the top talent in the culinary world — Steven Brown, Andrew Zimmern and many chefs at the D’Amico company. In addition to writing, Zoë teaches baking classes and consults at restaurants. You can find her writing and recipe creations on Devour, on her baking blog, zoebakes.com, and on the site www.breadin5.com.

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