Summer Cake (Marillenkuchen)

I conquered what is hopefully the last of the spring pollen film from my front-covered porch. It was messy work. Eye-watering work. Unglamorous work. And my inner fusspot is quite uncomfortable with the knowledge that bits of pollen will probably never see the light of day again from their hidden chambers within the woven, white, plastic rattan furniture I inherited when I purchased this place 3 years ago. 

The thickness of the air yesterday reminded me of arriving by train 5 years ago in Vienna, Austria. The days prior had been spent with a friend exploring an unseasonably warm time in Budapest, sustaining on Sütőkolbász and Dreher. By the time we reached Wien Hauptbahnhof, the summer temps had gone from hot to hotter. Our day of anticipated exploration turned into a need to find long respites of shade. The best form of shade in an ancient city, when not seated at a wooden pew of a centuries-old church, is in the back alley bakeries and cafes. That day in Vienna we shifted nourishment from sausages and beer to sponge cakes and iced coffee. It was a glorious day of eating. 

Since that trip, I equate the summer’s heat with the making of a simple European cake. This sort of cake unassumingly waits on the kitchen counter, beckoning anyone that walks to grab a spoon from the drawer and steal a bite. A traditional European sponge cake is delicious but takes a more complicated approach than the one I’ve created here. I liken this recipe to a hybrid of my favorite Vienna memories and those of my beloved Appalachian skillet cake. Yesterday the nectarines were giving the sweetest scent from the produce aisle, but really, any stone fruit will do. 
Megan's Summer Cake (Marillenkuchen)


4 stone fruit, washed and cut into thick slices
1/2 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon citrus zest (I prefer orange)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose or cake flour 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a square baking 8"x 8" pan or a large, deep, cast iron skillet with parchment.
  • Wash, halve and remove the pits from your stone fruit. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy with a mixer. Don’t scrimp on this step.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions.
  • Beat in the vanilla, salt, and zest.
  • Add the flour to the mixture, folding until just incorporated.
  • Using a spatula, spread the batter evenly in your prepared baking pan.
  • Top with the thick fruit slices. Do not press the fruit into the batter, the cake will rise around it
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until the cake is golden and springs back.
  • Serve warm or allow the cake to cool completely and serve with a heaping bit of whipped cream.