Each month, participants in the Canadian Food Experience Project write about a topic that aims to pull into clearer focus our Canadian food culture; it might be a Canadian ingredient or recipe – this month we’ve been asked to write about a Canadian food hero – someone who inspires us with what they do with their food.
So many people come to mind – including (immediately) Chef Michael Allemeier, one of a superb team of Culinary Arts instructors at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary and former Winery Chef at Mission Hill Winery in Westbank, BC. He does a lot of good in this city, and is a great guy, and funnily enough, hit the highway to come out west the same time we did about a week and a half ago.. those following us on Twitter noticed our stops at the same road trip landmarks along the way – at D Dutchmen Dairy in Sicamous we must have missed each other by minutes.
Michael is a positive and generous member of our Calgary food scene; earlier this summer he spent time cooking for flood victims in High River, and at the inaugural Taste Alberta farm-to-fork tour at Gull Lake, he brought his own smoker to prepare (according to the awesome Liane Faulder, another local food hero I often live vicariously through) applewood-grilled bison flat iron steaks with lovage chimichurri and marrow-stuffed potatoes. Michael has taught me a lot over the years – not least of all how to grow delicious strawberries, how to proof my bread in a warm, steamy dishwasher post-cycle, and how to approach life with a smile, looking for ways to teach and inspire the next generation of chefs and eaters. Also – he came up with this buttermilk cake with peaches and cream.
I made it before we left for Tofino, for a friend’s summer birthday. While I love grilled peaches, it was getting dark and so I skipped that stop, thickly slicing the peaches directly atop the cake as everyone chatted on the back porch. The recipe called for a strained raspberry puree to be drizzled overtop, but with a small bottle of black currant syrup in the fridge, I decided to go with that instead. It’s deep purple, almost black, with a tartness that works as well with the peaches and buttermilk cake as I imagine raspberries would. With beautiful BC peaches now in season, it’s a perfect recipe to share.
Grilled Peach Trifle with Lemon Buttermilk Cake
Lemon Buttermilk Cake:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp each baking soda, baking powder and salt
6 Tbsp. buttermilk
juice and finely grated zest of a lemon
2 cups frozen or fresh raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
Almond Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups 35% whipping cream
1/4 cup icing sugar
3/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 to 6 freestone peaches, cut in half and pitted
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Lemon Buttermilk Cake: Pre-heat oven to 325°F (160°C). Lightly butter a 10-inch (25 cm) non- stick springform pan; line bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together sugar, butter and vanilla, until creamy and smooth. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time.
Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture, alternating with the buttermilk until well mixed. Add lemon zest and juice; mix well. Spread into the prepared pan; smooth top.
Bake for about 35 to 40 minutes until tester inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Carefully remove from pan and cool on rack completely.
Raspberry Syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar, water and juice; bring to a simmer on high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes or until raspberries are completely broken down. Strain through a fine meshed sieve, pressing on berries to extract juice. Discard seeds and refrigerate syrup to cool completely.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place peaches cut side down on greased grill; grill covered for 3 to 4 minutes or until grill marks appear. Turn peaches over and grill 1 to 2 minutes longer. Cool to room temperature or up to 6 hours.
Almond Whipped Cream: In a chilled bowl, whip cream, icing sugar, and almond and vanilla extracts until stiff peaks form.
To assemble: On a serving platter, place cake. Cut a wafer thin horizontal slice off the top of the cake (and enjoy). Drizzle with ¾ cup (175 mL) of the raspberry syrup. Spread almond cream to the edges. Place grilled peach halves on top. Drizzle remaining raspberry syrup and sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately. Enjoy!