Challah - Fresh, soft friday ritual

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Article and photos by published | june ‘09

Did you make that pound cake?" Noah asked. "If we were married I’d be so fat."

Noah and I had never discussed marriage. In fact, we had never discussed anything. He was the new waiter, I was the Pastry Chef, Peach Pound Cake was the Special. And since I already had a husband and I’d been up since 3 AM I just raised my eyebrows, and nodded.

Noah looked worried by my silence. "That probably sounded weird." He stammered, I smiled: "I didn’t mean…I’m sorry…I just meant it was really good."

"I know what you meant. Would you like another piece?"

"Yes, thank you." And he held out his plate.


I love this cake for two reasons: It is very easy to make and forgiving of less than perfect measurements and oven temperatures AND you can use any kind of stone fruit or berry on the top, making it a perfect way to use up summer fruit. Also, since it is not too sweet, it makes a wonderful brunch treat or coffee accompaniment.

If you decide to use berries in place of stone fruit I recommend cooking 1/2 cup of the fruit with 1/4 sugar and the juice of 1/2 lemon over medium heat until the berries burst or form a light syrup. Add 1 1/2 tbs potato starch to your fruit syrup and use it to coat the bottom of your greased spring-form pan before you cover it with fresh berries. This extra step will help you un-mold the cake more easily by creating a barrier between the pan and the batter that will try and seep through the berries and stick to the pan.

challah close up

For the cake

  • 2 sticks butter, cut into 1" cubes, and softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs plus three large eggs yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp milk or cream
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ cup sifted flour

  1. In a standing mixer whip butter on medium speed until it is light and airy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in sugar and whip for another 3 minutes.
  2. Combine eggs, yolks, vanilla, lemon zest, and cream and gradually beat into creamed butter and sugar mixture.
  3. Using a large spatula, gently fold in sifted flour, ½ cup at a time.
challah presentation

For the Fruit

  1. Ripe bruised peaches work best because of their natural sweetness and acidity.
  2. Pit the fruit by cutting it in half and removing the pit with the point of a knife. If your pit does not come out easily, your peaches are under ripe (or were when they were picked) and you should increase both sugar and lemon to taste to compensate for their lack of flavor. There is no need to remove the skin unless it is broken and beginning to turn. Once the skin is cooked it will be indistinguishable from the flesh except for the bright color it adds to your cake
  3. Cut your fruit into wedges and add the juice of one lemon; 1 tbs potato starch; ¼ cup sugar, or less, if like me you prefer a natural fruit sweetness. Toss lightly to combine.
  4. Generously butter your 8″ spring form pan and dust with sugar. Arrange the peaches in an overlapping set of concentric circles that completely covers the bottom of the pan.
  5. Scoop the cake batter into the pan in three places to make it easier to spread without disturbing your peaches or berries. Use wet fingers to spread the cake over the fruit so that it is completely covered. Firmly tap the cake pan against the counter to remove air pockets.
  6. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the mold. Loosen and remove. Let cool for 15 minutes, or until the cake is warm but not hot to the touch.
  8. Place your serving plate on the cake and invert. Before removing the bottom of the pan go around the edge with a blunt knife, gently applying upward pressure and inserting your knife deeper and deeper under the pan until it comes free.

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