For summer stone fruit, have your cake and eat it too
While summer in the “before times” may have meant swimsuits and beach days to most people, to me it only ever meant it was time to eat all the stone fruit NOW! As anyone who counts fruit as their true love can attest, now is the season of lustful infatuation. Berries are great, but have you ever bitten into a peak-season peach and had its juice run down your arm? I buy the callipygous beauties — plums, apricots and dozens of hybrids — by the case to eat raw. Any surplus fruit becomes jam for year-round indulging, but first, a few choice specimens get strewn over one of my most favorite, ridiculously simple treats for highlighting fruit: yeasted cake.
I first made the cake from a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, “Simple Desserts” by Ken Haedrich. In the book, he calls it a “Butter Yeast Cake” — essentially a yeast-risen bread dough mixed with enough butter to “shorten” it into the texture of a tender, traditionally egg- or chemically-leavened cake — and uses it almost like a syrup-less baba au rhum, served plain with whipped cream and fruit on the side. It has many predecessors, such as French brioche and German kugelhopf, but where I divert from tradition is by toppling lots of stone fruit wedges over the dough so they bake into it, creating pockets of juicy fruit and concentrating their flavors just enough to enhance their natural sweetness while preserving their freshness.
The soft dough has the strength to hold up the fruit and still remain tender. I surround the dough on all sides with turbinado sugar for crunch to contrast with the soft cake and jammy fruit. Maple syrup — both in the dough and coating the fruit — and orange zest give it a distinctly “breakfast” vibe. It’s light, fluffy and not too sweet, the ideal showcase for the most perfect fruit to start your day.
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