Cake

Our Most Popular Cake Recipe Gets a Peachy Makeover

June 21, 2018

Summer starts on June 21st! In honor of all the BBQing, sprinkler-hopping, and ice cream truck-chasing to come, we give you Hello, Summer, a picnic basket full of easy-breezy recipes and tips to help you make the most of every minute this season.


We met Louisa in the spring of 2011. Well, that’s when we met her cake, a single-layered, unfrosted, unassuming recipe that, in the years since, has garnered quite the following on our site. And that’s putting it lightly.

If this is all news to you, let’s catch up: The crust is varnished and bronze. The interior, tender and plush. There could be powdered sugar on top. Or not. Louisa’s Cake has the custardiness of tres leches, the fudginess of chocolate brownies, the confidence of Rihanna.


ONE OF THE MANY, MANY TIMES WE'VE MADE THIS

This is all thanks to ricotta.

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Lots of it. In the 9- or 10-inch cake, you use a full cup. As fresh and top-notch as you can get your hands on—truly, so worth it here. All that cheese becomes barely held together by the regulars: flour and sugar, eggs and butter, baking powder and salt.

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Top Comment:
“write-it-on-recipe-card moment with this cake. I prepared as instructed. Then, I saved the peach peels and steeped with two table spoons of sugar and half a cup of concentrated earl grey tea. I took the resulting syrup and mixed it with about a cup and a half of powdered sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a squeeze of lemon. The icing was a peachy-pink color, and bursting with flavor! I imagine the earl grey tea could be replaced with bourbon for an even greater effect. Such fun for a drizzle on this already delectable cake!”
— Stefanie S.
Comment

But wait—there’s more. As if there wasn’t enough moisture with the ricotta, Louisa adds grated apple for good measure. This offers subtle fruitiness and brightness, like someone who speaks softly, so you lean closer to hear.

It is not an apple cake but a cake with apples. And you’d miss them if they weren’t there.

I snack on apples year-round but, when it comes to recipes, June to August means daydreaming about juicy stone fruits and puckery berries, crimped into pie or churned into ice cream or tossed into cake.

Photo by Rocky Luten

Like Louisa’s cake. Which is dead simple and fussless, just like slow, sleepy summer afternoons. I couldn’t help but wonder: What would happen if we swapped out the apple and called in a peach?

Good things.

Louisa’s cake calls for 1 cup, so I substituted exactly that: 1 cup of peeled, minced-into-oblivion peaches. They should be somewhere between firm and tender, like last night you went to sleep and they weren’t yet ready, then you woke up and, just like that, they were.

Because this brings more juice to the mix than apples do, another tablespoon of flour goes a long way. I added a little more salt because I can’t help it. But everything else stays exactly the same.

If you’re like me, you’re now wondering: If we can substitute peaches, what about nectarines? And plums? And figs? I haven’t tried any of this. We’ll just have to make lots of Louisa’s cake to find out.

What fruit would you want to try in Louisa's cake first? Tell us in the comments! And let us know what you try, too.

29 Comments

Emily July 25, 2018
Made this with my kids today and it was delicious! Next time I will cut the sugar down and maybe do the earl grey peach syrup another commenter mentioned. We ended up covering the top in thin peach slices to get more peach flavor (otherwise the peach didn't come through terribly strong).
 
Stefanie S. July 16, 2018
Not to brag, but I definitely had a “Holy eff, I MADE THAT?!”-write-it-on-recipe-card moment with this cake. I prepared as instructed. Then, I saved the peach peels and steeped with two table spoons of sugar and half a cup of concentrated earl grey tea. I took the resulting syrup and mixed it with about a cup and a half of powdered sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, and a squeeze of lemon. The icing was a peachy-pink color, and bursting with flavor! I imagine the earl grey tea could be replaced with bourbon for an even greater effect. Such fun for a drizzle on this already delectable cake!
 
Mm July 10, 2018
Oh no, my ricotta is moldy, can I use yogurt? Sigh.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. July 10, 2018
Agh! Hate when that happens. I haven't tried that substitution with this recipe, so I can't say for sure. I'm hopeful that Greek yogurt would work, though, preferably full-fat. I suspect that unstrained yogurt would add too much moisture.
 
Mm July 10, 2018
I used the greek yogurt and a bit of almond milk to loosen, its in the oven now, I'll keep you posted!<br />Thanks Emma!
 
Mm July 13, 2018
It was a big hit at work but I thought the texture was too dense with the greek yogurt. Next time, I'll make my own ricotta! I also cut the sugar by half which was perfect for me. <br />Thanks for posting.<br />
 
Jane F. July 8, 2018
It’s ok. I expected one of those subtle cakes you serve by the narrow slice and it blows everybody away by its flavor and elegance. It’s more like the simple cake my grandmother might have served in the afternoon with a cup of tea, in the days when people ate more cake. At my dinner party, people were more excited about the fresh peaches I sliced on the side.
 
Cheryl B. July 7, 2018
I've always meant to make Louisa's cake but for some reason or another never got around to it. Until this morning. I used nectarines as I had them on hand and peaches are still rock hard here in the Upper Midwest. Love the density of this cake and it isn't overly sweet to my palate. However, I couldn't really taste the nectarines. Might need to try another piece. :-) Thanks for sharing this recipe adaptation!
 
Greg July 6, 2018
One CUP + 2TBL of sugar! Why in God's name would any cake need that much sugar? Is it really necessary to use that much sugar? I prefer my deserts without a diabetes chaser : - )
 
Catherine R. July 4, 2018
Wonderful! Served with a few raspberries.
 
Vicky June 30, 2018
I made mine small in six paper shelves. The texture is lovely and the flavor two however, too sweet for me and the lemon zest over powered the peaches. I’ll make it again but correcting for my preferences
 
Vicky June 30, 2018
That was supposed to say six (round) paper sleeves. <br />Wonder why I can't edit and/or add photo.
 
Vicky July 8, 2018
Also best eaten the day it’s made, preferably still a bit warm. Not a great second day cake.
 
Bella95 June 29, 2018
Will be putting this on the list for as soon as peaches come back (it's winter here), but l'm thinking l could cheer myself up by using a can of well drained cherries. Yum.
 
Chris June 29, 2018
I have a ton of frozen peaches...would those work or be too much moisture?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. June 29, 2018
Hi Chris, I'm honestly not sure! With most cakey recipes, the go-to method for adapting to frozen fruit is: Don't thaw first, just stir into batter as is. Usually this is with respect to berries. The catch here would be: Do you need to thaw the fruit before you can chop it? If you can chop the peaches frozen, I'm hopeful it would work—and you can add another tablespoon of flour for extra insurance.
 
Dawn June 25, 2018
Where is the link for the original recipe?
 
Author Comment
Emma L. June 25, 2018
Hi Dawn, here it is: https://food52.com/recipes/10436-louisa-s-cake
 
R.A.R. S. June 25, 2018
This cake is spectacular. Peaches at the market weren't ripe enough the day of, so I used apricots instead, which were so delicious and their tartness really brought out the lemon zest.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. June 25, 2018
Apricots! Must try. Maybe with a tiiiiiiny bit of minced rosemary!
 
Deborah H. June 23, 2018
I made this yesterday and it’s amaxing! I did about 1.5 cups peaches.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. June 23, 2018
Oh wow! So cool to know that you can increase the fruit that much!
 
Sharane C. June 22, 2018
I would like to try this cake with either blueberries, or maybe diced strawberries.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. June 22, 2018
Oo I bet strawberries would be so good. Especially with fresh, sugared strawberries served alongside!
 
Valerio F. June 21, 2018
I love Louisa and I love her cake <3
 
Erin A. June 21, 2018
This cake is heaven, especially with peaches. Thank you for sharing this summery twist, Emma!
 
Author Comment
Emma L. June 21, 2018
Thanks, Erin! (And thanks, Louisa!)
 
K W. June 29, 2018
Made the cake. Is it suppose to be real dense!
 
Author Comment
Emma L. June 29, 2018
Yes, it's a relatively dense cake, thanks to all that ricotta!