OKAY. The first thing you have to know about this recipe is: brace yourself. That's it. The flavors in this breakfast cake (Food52's rule, not mine) are intense. Not in a bad way, but certainly in a way that demands fair warning. It's got the sweet and sour rule maxed out on every level. So there you have it. Now you know.
While Food52 concocted this original recipe with strawberries, I found myself to be a strawberry-less girl on the day I decided to pull this cake together. What I did have, however, was an unusually large bounty of peaches. While I can tear apart summer fruit like no other, sometimes it's best to just admit the following: I have too many, they are all ripe now, some of them will have to become pie, crisp, jam or cake.
What you will need for the fruit portion of this cake, besides 3/4 pound of ripening peaches:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup golden balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
And for the actual cake itself:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup golden balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup of olive oil
Something to note here: golden balsamic is not as easy to find as I originally imagined. You know those aisles in the grocery store that are basically overflowing with expensive oils and vinegars? Turns out there are a lot of the same variety in different bottles with different labels. Also, golden balsamic is not the same thing as white balsamic. It will definitely alter the taste of your outcome, as will using traditional balsamic. It will also, let's face it, not look as inviting. (I ended up eventually finding golden balsamic at Whole Foods, where you can usually find everything. Usually).
You can start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch cake pan (have it!) with cooking spray or olive oil spray, lining the bottom with parchment paper. With all the fruit and sticky syrup that's about to be involved, this is a pretty crucial step.
Peel, pit and slice your peaches. Arrange in an overlapping spiral pattern at the bottom of your pan, like so:
Meanwhile, combine your brown sugar, 1/2 cup golden balsamic, 2 tablespoons olive oil and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Slowly bring to a boil and whisk to emulsify. Stir frequently until thickened; this will take a second, but keep at it while watching that your mixture doesn't burn. Once you've achieved a syrupy texture, remove from heat. Pour over your artfully arranged peaches and set aside.
To start making your cake batter, whisk together your eggs, sugar, buttermilk and vinegar in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients. Now add your dry ingredients to your wet, in three stages, incorporating fully each time. Add your remaining 2/3 cup of olive oil, also in three stages. Slowly pour your batter into your prepared pan, trying to carefully not loosen your peaches in their pattern. (You'd really have to pour this pretty recklessly for that to happen.)
Bake off for about 1 hour or until the top is golden (aha!) and the edges have pulled away from the pan. Cool before serving. This cake, as I mentioned before, is not for the faint of heart. It's not for traditionalists and it's not for people who think vinegar is just for salads. It packs a massive flavor punch (and scent, might I add)---and it is seriously and unapologetically good.