A lovely peach dessert, with a sweet yeasted dough and topped with peach halves and a brown sugar topping. A Baltimore favourite!
This cake is a tradition in Baltimore, but it’s not traditionally a “cake”. It’s actually a yeasted sweet dough, topped with lots of peaches and a crispy brown sugar topping. Then fresh out of the oven, the top gets a quick brushed with some warm apricot jam. In the end, it’s really more like a pastry than a cake.
Whatever you call it though, it’s a delicious peach treat. You can enjoy this one out of hand, as a slice, or put it on a plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a lovely Summer dessert.
Ingredients and Substitutions
A few notes on some the ingredients you will need …
For the dough:
- Yeast – you can use active dry or regular instant yeast, but not quick/rapid rise. See the recipe card for direction depending on what yeast you start with.
- Milk – any kind will do and I suspect nut/soy milk would work as well.
- Peaches – you will need about 5-6 peaches for this recipe and it’s best if they are all of similar size. Freestone peaches will be the easiest to halve.
- Cornstarch – you could use an equal amount of flour here instead, in a pinch.
- Apricot jam or jelly – this is optional, if you don’t have it on hand.
- I used a quarter sheet pan here, which is 9×13-inches, so if you don’t have that size of sheet pan, you can use a 9×13-inch cake pan instead. If you don’t have any 9×13-inch pan, use two 8 or 9-inch square or round cake pans.
- This is a very sticky dough, so it’s not ever going to be kneadable. Just add enough extra flour to get to the point where the dough comes together around the kneading hook. That said, do be sure to mix well during the first mixing, to develop some structure to the dough.
- This is a sweet dough. If you find it too sweet, simply reduce the added sugar in the dough a bit.
- You’ll want to check your cake at about 25 minutes of baking and if it is browned enough, loosely cover with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent further browning while it finishes cooking. The cake will need that extra time in the oven, even though it will look “done” on top. For the 9×13-inch cake, you’ll need at least 30 and up to 35 minutes in the oven.
- Note that a dark coloured baking pan will likely bake a little more quickly, while a light pan (like I used here), will take a little longer. Mine was 35 minutes in the oven.
- You can use either peach quarters or peach halves to top the cake. I like halves as they tend to keep the peach juice in the peach and not transfer to the dough.
How to split a peach in half
Use a sharp knife to cut around the circumference of the peach, from the stem end to the bottom and back around. (I find it easiest to follow the natural indent along the side). Firmly grasp the peach with two hands and twist your hands in opposite directions, twisting forward with the right hand and backward with the left. The peach should split evenly in half.
Get the Recipe: Baltimore Peach Cake
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast, not rapid/quick rise
- 1/2 cup water, lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, DIVIDED
- 3 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 cup milk, lukewarm
- 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
For the topping:
- 4-5 fresh peaches, unpeeled, halved and pitted
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon butter, cold
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch, or flour
For glazing after baking:
- 3-4 Tablespoons Apricot preserves, slightly warmed
- Add the lukewarm water to a large bowl (and use a wooden spoon) or to the bowl or a stand mixer fitter with the paddle attachment. Stir in the 1 tsp of white sugar and sprinkle yeast over-top. Let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix well. Remove paddle attachment, then cover bowl with plastic wrap (or a dampened tea towel) and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Fit the mixer with the kneading hook and mix well. Add the 3 Tbsp white sugar, salt, milk, butter and 1 more cup of the flour. Mix well until smooth. Start adding the last 1 cup of flour in small increments, until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and wraps around the kneading hook. *The dough should be moist and sticky. You can add a bit more flour if needed, but add only enough to bring the dough together. Remove the kneading hook, cover the bowl with plastic wrap (or a damp tea towel) and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Grease a 9x13-inch sheet pan (quarter sheet pan) or alternately a 9x13-inch baking pan. Spoon dough onto the pan and using your finger-tips or a silicone spatula, spread the dough evenly into the pan, covering the entire bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or and let rise 20-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 400F. Prepare your peaches by splitting in half and removing and discarding the pit.
- Prepare the brown sugar topping: In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and cornstarch. Add the cold butter and using your fingertips, rub the cold butter into the sugar mixture until you have a coarse, even crumb. Set aside.
- When dough has risen, place peach halves on top of dough, pressing slightly into the dough. Scatter brown sugar mixture over-top.
- Place your baking sheet on top of a larger baking sheet (*to catch any bubble-overs!) and place into the oven.
- Bake in preheated 400F for 25 minutes, then check the cake for browning. If it is browned enough at this point, lay a sheet of aluminum foil loosely over-top and continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes. **Cake will look done before it is actually done. Be sure to leave it in the oven at least 30 minutes and most likely about 35 minutes, to ensure it cooks through. Use a cake tester and test in the centre of the cake to be sure. If using two smaller pans, expect it to cook more quickly.
- Remove cake from oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Heat the apricot jam until it is thinned and brush on top of the cake.
Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!