Just Peachy: Peach Cake with Lemon and Thyme

There are so many recipes that end up on my to-bake list simply because I see of photo of the end product on Instagram. And an Instagram post is precisely what made me decide to make a Peach Cake with Lemon and Thyme from Olive magazine -- although the overflowing bins of peaches at the farmer's market definitely put me in the mindset to make a peach dessert. Plus, the herbs in our garden have been flourishing this year, so I've been using fresh herbs far more than usual.

This is an upside-down cake. You toss sliced peaches with some brown sugar and thyme leaves and arrange them in the bottom of a buttered and parchment-lined pan. The recipe didn't say anything about peeling the peaches first, so I left the skins on. To make the cake batter, you beat softened butter with golden sugar until fluffy; beat in eggs and vanilla; and fold in flour, almond flour, baking powder, and lemon zest. I had to make a few modifications to the recipe since I don't keep salted butter or self-rising flour on hand; I used unsalted butter and all-purpose flour and added a little extra salt and baking powder. And I used regular golden granulated sugar instead of golden caster sugar since caster sugar is so expensive here. I carefully spread the batter on top of the peaches while trying not to disturb the carefully laid out pattern of fruit.
After the cake is completely cooled, you brush on a sugar syrup made from golden sugar, water, lemon peel, and fresh thyme. I had a lot of syrup and I generally think that sugar syrup on cake is a good thing, so I decided to use it all. 

After I sliced the cake, I slightly regretted adding so much syrup. I had arranged the peach slices in a fairly tight pattern on the bottom of the pan, so there wasn't a lot of bare cake showing though on the top of the cake. It turned out that the sugar syrup ended up pooling in those few exposed spots, resulting in some particularly soggy portions of the cake with a less-than-ideal texture. But other than that, I loved the cake. I'm glad I left the skin on the fruit, because it added some nice reddish color. The thyme flavor in the cake was quite subtle (maybe I should have just sprinkled some more fresh thyme on top?) and the lemon flavor was much more prominent by comparison. But the flavor of the sweet peaches brushed with syrup was superb and tasted like the height of summer. And the peaches retained a great texture where they were tender but mushy.

Honestly, I don't remember much about this cake aside from the peaches, because the cake is so peach-centric and the peaches were the highlight. Sometimes the flavor of the fresh peaches can seem muted after they're baked into a dessert. But this cake was perfectly peachy.
Recipe: "Peach Cake with Lemon and Thyme" from Olive magazine.