Cornmeal adds grit and brown butter adds nuttiness to this summer peach cake. A cast iron skillet makes it 10x better.
Creativity has been hard lately. The ingredients are all there— summer fruit, flours, dozens of saved IG photos for inspiration, stand mixer, unstructured weekends (who am I??), better weather.
This is my favourite time of year to cook—produce is at its best, music is everywhere (except for Donda lol), and usually, I’m bursting with ideas of what to make and tearing apart our kitchen. But this time it’s different.
We’re 1.5 years into the pandemic and while life for us (privileged, affluent, Western) has improved, life elsewhere has not. Externally, I’m overwhelmed by news. Internally, I’m overwhelmed by tides of want, obligation, and questioning. I wanted a job with more responsibility but I’m working more and sleeping/exercising less. I don’t care much for having a wedding but friends and family expect one, even though I have serious doubts if many of them could even come. I want to travel but don’t want to be ignorant. I want meaning in this new life but I don’t know where to find it.
A cycle emerges – the less you do something, the more out of touch you become, and the more upset you get that you aren’t as good as you used to be, and then the more paralysed you become of starting again because you’re so far behind. It sucks!
I tried something simple— a brown butter cornmeal peach cake baked in a cast iron skillet (simple for me lol, as I’m told I have a different definition of this) to get out of my head a bit. Cornmeal is hard to find here, which makes sense given that it’s a New World grain (read: came from Indigenous American peoples)—I had to order it online and it came in a questionable bag, but it’s all good.
I love the grit cornmeal provides in contrast with the soft peaches and nutty brown butter, and cooking the peaches in the butter first makes them taste even better. Also brown butter is a magic ingredient. We ate some for breakfast and I’ll be eating it for dessert too, at least until I can meet some more people to share it with.
- You don’t need to bake this in a cast iron skillet, but I highly recommend it for maximum flavour and proper browning.
- You can swap out the milk for Greek yogurt or buttermilk.
- The batter is thick and bakes quickly, so check the cake at the 15-minute mark.