Maple / Brown Sugar / Peach Cake

I remember driving across the Colorado/Utah border on a road trip in 2016. There was music playing loudly out the windows of a Ford Focus as we descended miles below in elevation. I had my hand so far out the window, it's a wonder I didn't lose it to a passing car's side mirror. I made soaring motions through the wind like a paddleboat gracefully floating over ocean waters. I was twenty-one. 

I traveled the road to dusty-red cliffs and historical arches, climbing them in the dead of summer. It was 110 degrees and my water bottle warmed far above room temperature within minutes on the trail. Those were the hardest hikes I've ever done, and they were all only a few miles in length. One day later, goosebumps coated my legs as hiking poles guided my sopping wet boots across The Narrows. There, my drinking water stayed cool, and my heartfull. 

Later, I was rolling down the Virgin River Gorge into the tip of Arizona crossing blankets upon blankets of dirt in Nevada and California. The excitement settled, and I swear, if I had weren't sitting in the passenger seat, I would have turned right around, back into Utah. Back to the mountains. I wanted nothing more than to be lost among red cliffs scattered with evergreens, even if it meant drinking 100 degree water all summer long. 

Fast forward three years, approaching the age of twenty-four, and you'll find me packing a bag, chasing the desire to, as a friend of mine put it, "become a hermit in the mountains." It's already been about two months since I moved to Utah.  Initially, I was living in a tiny studio in Salt Lake City. It only took one month (and a very sketchy apartment complex in South Salt Lake) to work on fully committing to my mountain town dreams. 

It's much cooler up here. Quiet. Peaceful. Worries of running into someone dangerous on the street  have been replaced with stumbling upon deer or moose on my front porch. My backyard is a forest of trees that are turning a little more red and orange with every passing day. Oh, and the tree stumps, they make great platforms for cake photos. 

Yesterday was the first day of fall, so I wanted to wave goodbye to summer fruit in the most subtle way possible. The last peaches of the season are meeting up with fall flavors here, in this maple brown sugar cake.

I should note that this cake isn't vegan. Since starting my new job, I've given myself a small allowance of eggs and dairy. However, if you stumble upon this recipe thinking, "Darn, I wish this were vegan!" I encourage substituting the butter with earth balance and egg with a flax egg (1 TB flax + 3 tablespoons water). Then, finish the cake with this cinnamon frosting. Oh! And don't forget to add a touch of maple to it! 

Maple / Brown Sugar Peach Cake
yield: 2-layer 6" cake

for the cake 
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup almond flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup almond milk

for the icing 
- 3 egg whites
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line two 6" cake pans with parchment paper. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, almond flour, baking powder, and spices. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth.  Gradually add the flour mixture and milk, alternating between the two, beginning and ending with the flour until fully incorporated.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pans. 
  5. Make the icing by placing egg whites and sugars in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of  simmering water. Whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 150 degrees F or until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add maple syrup. Use an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to beat the mixture to stiff peak. Add room temperature butter a little at a time. Continue to beat for several minutes until thickened.* 
  6. When the cake is completely cool, trim each layer and fill with buttercream and sliced peaches. Ice the top with remaining buttercream and garnish with extra peaches.

* If the frosting separates after you add the butter, this means the butter was too cold. Place the bowl of icing back over the simmering water until the sides start to melt a little. Then, remove from heat and continue to beat until it thickens and turns to back into buttercream. 

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© A Little Baker
Maira Gall