There is nothing quite as delicious as a ripe, fragrant peach just picked at its peak. Here in Umbria in August, the market stalls are filled with these little beauties and we have been thoroughly enjoying them all month long. Although I do like plums and nectarines, a perfect peach for me is hands down my favorite type of stone fruit. Peaches are best bought at the green grocer or local farm stands because peaches found at grocery stores are chosen for their ability to hold up during shipping rather than for their flavor. In Umbria, when we buy fruit at an outdoor market, the farmer almost always asks when we will eat it. If we plan to eat the fruit that day, he will pick fruit that is fully ripened. If we plan to enjoy the fruit the next day he will choose slightly firmer fruit.
A perfectly ripe peach should be fairly firm, not soft, and be completely free of bruises and blemishes. A good peach should smell sweetly fragrant, and it is important to remember that peaches will only soften when left sitting at room temperature and will not ripen any more after they have been picked. I actually used the peaches from our two small fruit trees for the cake in these photos which were a combination of both white and yellow peaches. I found however that the white peaches took on an odd color when baked so I would recommend using only yellow peaches.
This summer I have been enjoying using peaches a lot in my baking and I’ve made peach muffins, blackberry and peach crumbles, couple of peach quick breads, and more than a few rustic cakes like this crumb cake. In this cake, I added ricotta cheese to provide moistness, fresh diced peaches for sweetness, and a crumb topping for texture. I made this cake three times before I felt it was exactly how I wanted it, and this third attempt was a cake that was tender, sweet. and moist, with a delicious crumbly, crunchy topping. I used my favorite extract called Fiori di Sicilia which is a blend of lemon and vanilla in my third version, but you could use either of these flavored extracts on their own. I also used Farina Farro Bianco (white farro flour), but you could use all-purpose flour, spelt flour, or even whole wheat pastry flour if you prefer. I have just been making an effort to incorporate more healthy whole grains into my baking, and love the flavor of farro flour.
Deborah Mele 2014
- 3 Large Yellow Peaches, Peeled & Cut Into 1/2-inch Dice
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 2 Cups White Farro Flour (See Notes Above)
- 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
- 8 Tablespoons Butter (1/2 Cup) At Room Temperature
- 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs At Room Temperature
- 2 Teaspoons Lemon Zest
- 1 1/2 Teaspoons Fiori di Sicilia Extract (See Notes Above)
- 1 Cup Ricotta Cheese
- 1/3 Cup White Farro Flour
- 1/3 Cup Rolled Oats
- 1/3 Cup Sliced Almonds
- 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons Butter
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and lightly grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan.
- In a small bowl, toss the peaches with the lemon juice.
- In a larger bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.
- Using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the extract.
- Add half the flour mixture, then half the ricotta cheese and on low beat just until combined.
- Add the remaining flour mixture and ricotta cheese until mixed.
- Stir in the peaches and spread the batter in the prepared pan.
- In another bowl, use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour, oats, almonds, and sugar until crumbly.
- Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the cake, then bake for about 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool 10 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan and allow the cake to cool completely before slicing.