Every spring and summer, almost like clockwork, I receive multiple recipe requests for the Baltimore peach cake. Linda Terlizzi from Hanover, Pa., was one of several readers looking for the recipe this year. She said from the time she was a young child in the 1950s, her family loved the fresh peach cake made at the New System Bakery on 36th Street in Hampden. The bakery has since closed, and Terlizzi said she has yet to find a peach cake that equals the one from there.
Peach cake is one of those uniquely Baltimore things, like coddies, that live long in people's memories. The true Baltimore peach cake is always a yeast-based cake, and most neighborhood bakeries make it as a large sheet cake rather than as a round cake. That way it can easily be sliced into nice, big squares and maximize the amount of peaches per slice.
Peach cake does not hold up particularly well. The perishable nature of the peach means the cake is best served the day it is made. For most home cooks, that will mean making a smaller cake then the bakeries make.
Because of the popularity of this cake, The Baltimore Sun has printed the recipe for the classic peach cake several times over the years. The recipe below appeared in the Recipe Finder column nearly 20 years ago. It came from "Treasured Recipes Honoring Maryland's 350th Anniversary" published by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. and shared by Lynne Berger of Pikesville.
So now that peaches are plentiful in markets and roadside stands, pick up some luscious, ripe ones and make this cake as a special treat for family and friends. Nothing screams summer like a slice of this timeless Baltimore specialty.
Robin Roettger of Baltimore is looking for a salad dressing recipe from the old Bixby's in Towson. She believes the dressing had a buttermilk base and about five other ingredients.
Leslie Hayes, formerly from Baltimore and now living in the United Kingdom, is in search of the recipe for the sticky buns that were served at Camp Louis in the mountains of Maryland. Having attended camp there for many wonderful summers, she said it would be a real treat to have the recipe, scaled down to family size, of course.
If you are looking for a recipe or can answer a request, write to Julie Rothman, Recipe Finder, and The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you send in more than one recipe, please put each on a separate piece of paper and be sure to include your name, address and daytime phone number. Important: Name and hometown must accompany recipes in order to be published. Please list the ingredients in order of use, and note the number of servings each recipe makes. Please type or print contributions. Letter and recipes may be edited for clarity.
Baltimore peach cake
Makes 8-10 servings
1 3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons softened butter or margarine
1/2 cup very hot tap water
1 1/2 to 2 cups peeled, sliced peaches
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup apricot jam
1 drop red food coloring, optional
In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix 1/2 cup flour, sugar, salt and undissolved yeast. Beat in butter or margarine. Gradually add water to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes at medium speed of the electric mixer, scraping bowl occasionally. Add egg and 1/2 cup flour, or enough flour to make a thick batter. Beat at high speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.
Stir in remaining flour and spread batter evenly into two greased, 9-inch round pans or one 9-inch square pan.
Arrange sliced peaches on the cake batter. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle mixture over peaches. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, about 1 hour.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.
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Heat apricot jam in a 1-quart sauce pan and add food coloring, if using. Brush on warm peach cake.