Simple, rustic, and a little unexpected, my Peach Cake recipe features one of summer’s best fruits surrounded by a yeasty crust. The fresh flavor of the peaches contrasts beautifully with the sweet dough, and it all comes together with a delicate vanilla glaze. Be sure to watch the how-to video for helpful tips while making this recipe!
I couldn’t let summer slip by without sharing a peach recipe, and this one really takes the cake! See what I did there? 😉
Often known as “Maryland Peach Cake” or “Baltimore Peach Cake”, this dessert is based on an ancient recipe from my grandmother’s recipe box. Legend has it that the original German version was made with onions, but don’t worry, we’re only using bright and juicy peaches today.
A key part of the original peach cake recipe is the cake itself–which is actually more of a bread! The texture is a cross between my pizza dough and sweet bread, thanks to the addition of yeast. It’s not at all your typical cake and leans more towards a bread or galette, if anything. This peach cake is one of my grandmother’s favorite desserts, and I have a feeling it might become one of yours too.
What You Need to Make Peach Cake
Unlike many of my yeast-dough recipes, the dough for this peach cake does not require much kneading and won’t develop the smooth, elastic consistency you’re used to (like my sticky buns). It’s more similar to my beignet dough, except maybe even stickier. It can be a bit tricky to work with, but it is essential for the traditional peach cake texture.
Another important thing to note is that this dough is enriched. This simply means the dough contains a high percentage of fat, which helps tenderize and provide a soft, chewy texture and sweet flavor. Let’s go over some of the specific fats and other ingredients used in this peach cake recipe:
- Milk. This is one of the many types of fat we will use to enrich our dough. Any type will work, but I use whole milk.
- Yeast. An essential ingredient for this cake, yeast provides both flavor and texture. I prefer the results made with active dry, but you can also use instant. Scroll down to the recipe notes for instructions with instant yeast.
- Egg. Also part of our enriched dough, eggs tenderize and add structure. Egg wash on the exterior of the dough adds a beautiful golden color.
- Melted butter. This also helps enrich our dough. Use unsalted since we add salt ourselves.
- Flour. Use all-purpose flour; I don’t recommend using bread or cake flour for this recipe.
- Peaches. I use yellow peaches in this recipe because I find they are the best option for baking. Their texture holds up better than white peaches, and they have a little more acid, which complements the sweetness in the cake. Try to find yellow freestone peaches if you can–their pits are much easier to remove than clingstone peaches.
- Sugar. A multi-purpose ingredient! A little sugar in the yeast mixture feeds our yeast and produces carbon dioxide, creating bubbles and an airy texture. Both types of sugar in the dough add sweetness and moisture, and the coarse granulated sugar on the exterior adds texture and a rustic feel.
- Vanilla extract. The glaze gets its sweet, slightly floral flavor from vanilla extract. If you haven’t read my post on how to make vanilla extract, you need to! The process is crazy simple, and even though it does take some time, the results are better than anything you can buy at the store.
SAM’S TIP: While not necessary, lightly brushing your peaches with a bit of lemon or lime juice after layering them on your cake will help inhibit browning (and impart a subtle tartness!).
How to Make Peach Cake
- Heat milk to proper temperature, then sprinkle in the yeast. Add roughly 1 teaspoon of sugar and let sit until yeast is foamy (bloomed).
- Add remaining sugars, salt, egg, and melted butter to yeast mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Gradually add flour until dough comes together. Do not knead; just mix until you have a well-combined dough. It will be very sticky.
- Put your dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Place in a warm, draft-free place and allow to rise until doubled in size.
- Once dough has risen, spread over a greased jelly roll pan, pushing the dough up to form a ridge along the sides of the pan. Cover and let rise for another 20-30 minutes before adding your peaches, sugaring the ridge, and baking. Add glaze while still warm and enjoy!
SAM’S TIP: I like the look of the cake with unpeeled peaches, but if you prefer to peel your peaches before slicing, that will work too!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can find a detailed answer on the history of peach cake from The Baltimore Sun, but the short answer is that a combination of the Eastern Shore’s hearty peach crop and rich German heritage made this a beloved regional dessert. There’s even a poem about it!
No. Foam indicates your yeast is still alive, and we need it to be alive to work its magic. Try restarting with a fresh packet of yeast, and make sure your milk is at the right temperature before sprinkling it in.
This dough should be very sticky, but if you’re having a tough time with it, add some extra flour to your hands. Just be careful not to add too much extra flour to the dough itself, or you might change the texture of the cake.
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Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
- 1 cup milk I use whole milk but any type of milk will work (236ml)
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast see note 1 if you would like to use instant yeast
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar firmly packed
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 large egg room temperature preferred
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (406g)
- 1 ¾ lbs peaches² this is typically 4 peaches for me. Weigh before slicing. (800g)
Egg wash (optional, but encourages a beautiful browning on the edge of the cake)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 Tablespoons Coarse granulated sugar for sprinkling optional
- ½ cup powdered sugar (65g)
- 1 Tablespoon milk
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 10×15” jelly roll pan (25x38cm)
- Thermometer (for checking temperature of liquid for yeast)
- Heat milk (either in a microwave-safe dish or in a small saucepan) until it is between 115-120F (46-48C). Always stir before checking the temperature.
- Pour milk into a large mixing bowl and then sprinkle yeast over top. Take a large pinch of sugar (about 1 teaspoon) and sprinkle that in as well to help the yeast grow quickly. Let sit for 5-10 minutes or until yeast has bloomed/is foamy (if it does not become foamy you will need to start over).
- Once yeast is foamy, add sugars, salt, egg, and melted butter and stir until well-combined
- Gradually add flour until dough is completely combined. Kneading is not required, just mix until you have dough that is well-combined.
- Transfer dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Place in a warm, draft-free place and allow to rise until doubled in size (typically 1-2 hours for me).
- Once dough has risen, lightly grease a jelly roll pan (I lightly grease with a bit of butter). Turn dough out into pan and use a spatula to spread the dough over the pan, pushing the dough up the sides of the pan to form a ridge that’s about ½”- 1” (1.25-2.5cm) thick. If you need to use your fingers to manipulate the dough, it will help to lightly dust them with flour first.
- Cover dough and let rise for 20-30 minutes or until increased in size by approximately 50%. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F (190C) and slice your peaches, if you haven’t already and prepare your egg wash by whisking together egg and 1 teaspoon water.
- Once dough has risen again, layer your peaches evenly onto the cake within the ridge, slightly overlapping them and gently pressing them into the dough. You should be able to fit 3 long rows of peach slices.
- Use a pastry brush to lightly but thoroughly brush the ridge of the cake with egg wash and sprinkle the ridge with granulated sugar, if desired.
- Transfer to 375F (190C) oven and bake for 17-20 minutes. If you used the egg wash, your edges will be a beautiful golden brown.
- While cake is still warm, prepare glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. If your glaze is too thick, add another splash of milk, and if it’s too thin add a bit more sugar. The glaze should fall in a ribbon from your whisk when the whisk is lifted out of the bowl.
- Drizzle glaze over warm cake.
- Serve warm or allow to cool before slicing. Enjoy!