Bryson Leach is a Nashville local, friend of the Peach Truck, photographer and food enthusiast.
Skillet Cornmeal Cake with Peach Thyme and Lavender
Full disclosure, this idea came from Martha Stewart. The idea was so brilliant I just had to share. However, I can’t help myself, I had to make a few of my own tweaks that I think really make this cake something special. This cake is like biting into a flavorful, dessert like cornbread and the caramelized peaches on top just give off the most wonderful aroma and keep the cake moist and delicious.
For the peach topping:
3 tablespoons butter
¼ Cup of White sugar
4 medium ripe peaches skins on, pitted, and cut into about 1-inch wedges
For the Cornmeal Cake:
1 cup coarse cornmeal (you can use a finer cornmeal for a more cake-like texture. The coarse meal makes for a rustic look and feel)
¾ cup of Brown Sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons of fresh thyme,
Note: Try to find fresh thyme. Dried thyme will make the cake taste dirt-like.
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 Stick of butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup 2% Milk or Whole Milk (the more milk fat the better)
1 t of Fresh Lavender (for topping the cake)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Assemble the dry ingredients, cornmeal, flour, baking powder, thyme, and salt in a bowl. Beat the remaining butter and 3/4 cup sugar with a mixer on high speed until it’s whipped–3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, 1 at a time until each egg is incorporated into the mix. Pour in vanilla and milk. Reduce speed to low, and beat in dry ingredients in two parts, letting each addition incorporate before the next one is added. Set aside.
- After the batter has been made, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of white sugar into the butter and cook until the mixture is bubbly and caramelizing a little, about 3-5 minutes. Spread the butter and sugar mix around to coat the entire skillet. Keep an eye on this and don’t let the sugar burn!
- Drop all of the sliced peaches into the sugar mixture and make sure each slice has a piece is laying on its’ side, this will make sure each piece cooks evenly and caramelizes nicely. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook the peaches. Do not stir the peaches. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Once the peaches are soft and caramelized on the bottom, drop spoonfuls of batter over peaches, and spread evenly using a spatula or large spoon. Bake until golden, about 20 to 22 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake, if it comes out clean then your cake is done!
- Transfer the skillet to a cooling rack, or let sit on your stove top for 10-15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to separate the cake and the skillet.
- Using a friends help, place a plate, face down onto the skillet and have your partner hold the plate against the skillet as you flip it over (make sure the skillet is cool to touch). To finish, hold a tablespoon of lavender in your palms and rub your hands together for 2 seconds. This will release the aroma of the lavender as you sprinkle it on top of the cake.
Spicy Peach and Tomato Jam
I know what you’re thinking, “There’s no way this is even remotely tasty.” At first review I considered the same thought. But I’ve made it my mission to take unique peach recipes to the masses. The peach and tomato are two of my favorite summer staples and this recipe proves that there’s more you can do with peaches and tomatoes than make salsa. This spicy jam is the perfect condiment for a cheese plate, panini sandwiches, ham biscuit. The mellow tomato taste brings an interesting earthiness to the peach and when you throw in a pinch of pepper flake it finishes with a surprising warmth. I figured that this isn’t a jam you’d want to have a pack of Ball jars full of, so this recipe is a small batch that should make enough for two jars worth.
3 Lbs of tomatoes - Romas are a good idea, but any tomato will do. Something in season, not grown in a hothouse
2-3 ripe peaches you want about a pound to 1.5– of The Peach Truck variety.
1 teaspoon of Red Chili flake
1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar
1 Cup of Sugar - Turbinado or raw sugar (larger granules) is best for jams.
½ Cup of Brown Sugar
Pinch of salt
1 whole lemon - Juice and zest
Pectin or Cornstarch (follow package directions)
Before you begin, put a stoneware bowl or plate in the freezer (trust me).
To start you’ll need to blanch your tomatoes and peaches. Do so by cutting X’s on the bottoms of the fruits and dropping them in boiling water for 20-30 seconds. After they’ve boiled, transfer them to cold water (or an ice bath) and peel the skins off of the peaches and tomatoes.
Slice the tomatoes into quarters and use your hands to remove all of the watery jelly and seeds from the tomatoes. The tomatoes have too much water and will greatly increase the cooking time if you don’t remove the jelly. It’s also a good time to remove the harder parts (whiter parts) of the tomatoes that wont’ break down easily in the cooking. Remove the pit of the peach and dice up the tomatoes and peaches together. Save as much of the peach juice as possible.
Toss in the fruits, sugars, pepper flake, vinegar, salt, lemon juice and zest into a pot and boil for 30-50 minutes. Remove any foam that begins to build and let the mixture reduce. I ran out of pectin so I made a slurry with a teaspoon of cornstarch and some hot jam in a cup and added it back to the batch. Test it’s viscosity by putting a small spoonful onto a cold plate (check your freezer). If the jam seizes up like a jam’s supposed to, you’re good to go! Can them in jars according to standard canning method or keep it in the fridge up to 3 weeks.
until next time,