Summer is here, a time of harvest and abundance, and Sonoma County truly shines during this season. Go to any open-air farmers market, and beautiful fruits and vegetables abound, in all their color, freshness and glory.
Though it is hot, there is such bounty, it is a wonderful time to make and bake. And with this pandemic, well, it just seems like the thing to do. So, here is a favorite cake recipe, and I especially like it in the summer, when there are so many fruit options, and yes, I use peaches.
I typically bake early in the morning or late at night, and then turn off the oven for the rest of the day or night. This cake is delicious warm and just out of the oven, or it can be frozen and brought out for a special occasion, or any occasion really. I usually have this cake or Niloufer King's cardamom cake in the freezer, just in case, and both are favorites.
I made 1000 slices of this cake for Taste of Sonoma out at MacMurray Ranch one year. That was sort of crazy, but I love it, and thought guests would too. With a sliced peach, and a dollop of yogurt, yum!
Here is my favorite comfort cake recipe, sourced from another favorite, Gourmet Magazine, back in the day. A Ruth Reichl fan, I would read Gourmet cover to cover, traveling all over the world with them, admiring the photography, exceptional writing and pulling out recipes, such as this one. I miss it, and hope it returns one day. I still have a stack that I reference.
1 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 stick butter room temp
2/3 C sugar, plus 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar for later
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 C buttermilk (if you do not have buttermilk, there are many substitutes, like lemon juice or vinegar. For this recipe you can use ½ cup milk and ½ Tbsp lemon juice or vinegar).
1 C sliced peaches or raspberries or whatever fruit you have at the time
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter a 9-inch round cake pan
-In a small bowl, whisk dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and soda
-In a mixer, beat butter and 2/3 Cup sugar at med-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Then add vanilla and egg and beat well.
-At low speed, add in dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, until just combined
-Spoon batter into prepared cake pan, add sliced seasonal fruit, then sprinkle with 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
-Bake until golden and center comes out clean when toothpick inserted
-Cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a rack.
Serve with fresh fruit, jam, or your favorite cream.
(A syrup made from fruit, sugar and vinegar).
A question came in about making shrub. With fruit in such abundance, now's the time. I am going to tell you what I do, which is very simple, no real recipe here. I use a canning jar of whatever size is available, I then fill it just over halfway with very ripe fruit. I add about one half the amount of sugar to fruit, and then I top it with about one quarter the amount of vinegar, usually apple cider. I mix it all together, taste and adjust ingredients, then let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or days. I strain and use the syrup for drinks, mixed with ice and sparkling water, delicious.
In a dream I meet
my dead friend. He has,
I know, gone long and far,
and yet he is the same
for the dead are changeless.
They grow no older.
It is I who have changed,
grown strange to what I was.
Yet I, the changed one,
ask: "How you been?"
He grins and looks at me.
"I been eating peaches
off some mighty fine trees."