When I’m in France, a stroll through the market is the most perfect start to a warm spring or summer day. With an empty basket (and usually an empty stomach), I slowly make my way through the various stalls, dreaming up recipe ideas as I go along. It isn’t long before that basket is bulging with fresh fruit, crisp vegetables, stinky cheeses, a few dried sausages, bread, and of course, a bottle of local wine.
The best part of these market trips is the element of surprise. I don’t take a list, and therefore, nature becomes my source of inspiration. If the cherries look good, it’s a given that a clafoutis will be served for dessert. And should the aubergines, tomatoes and courgettes look especially tempting, I know I’ll be making ratatouille that same afternoon for lunch.
One of my best cake recipes was the product of a market stroll on a summer day in Duras. Oh those peaches were grandiose! Smooth, ripe and so fragrant that I couldn’t resist having one for breakfast — along with the grand crème I ordered at the local café after finishing my market round. Strange combination, I know, but in this case, common sense was not an option.
As I sat at the café, face to the sun, basket full, and the whole day ahead of me, I reached for my notepad and scribbled the following recipe. I hope you will like it as much as we did. And, I hope you will also serve it in the garden, with a chilled bottle of Crémant — and a big smile.
- 400g beautiful, fresh peaches
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 180g soft butter
- 220g caster sugar
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 100ml full-fat yogurt
- 250g all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
Prepare a 22cm cake pan (butter and flour the pan, then line the bottom with a piece of baking paper). Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the peaches in slices (not too thin) and carefully peel them. Put the slices in a bowl and sprinkle with the tablespoon of flour and the brown sugar. Give everything a gentle shake. Use a mixer to beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the vanilla extract while the machine continues to beat. Add the eggs in the same way, one by one. Turn off the machine, add the yogurt and stir it through the mixture using a wooden spoon. Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl. Add this to the wet ingredients and combine everything gently using a wooden spoon. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and top with the peach slices. Bake the cake for approximately one hour and 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow the cake to cook completely before removing from the pan. Serve as is, with a a little icing sugar or with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.