Peachy Keen

Peach Cake from bibberche.com

I was born in March when the only flowers bold enough to face the cruel northern winds and ice storms of seemingly interminable winter were snowdrops, dark stems and leaves fearlessly piercing the frigid surface supporting three delicate, shy white petals staring submissively at the snow-covered ground. Farmers markets displayed meager offerings, early spring produce ripened in glass houses – spring onions and garlic, spinach, butter lettuce, and peas, all of them tinted in various hues of green, too monotonous to offset the gray of depressing winter months.

My sister was born toward the end of July, when the Earth spews forth its abundance, making the stalls at the markets sag under the weight of fruits and vegetables in all primary colors, throwing at us dahlias and gladiolus with their large, obscenely beautiful flowers, flaunting their velvety petals and sinful shades like over-confident debutantes who are aware that their time is yet to come.

I tried to gather some points stating that there was magic in the first awakenings of nature, that the harbingers of spring were the toughest specimens of life on the planet, that we had to look beyond the barren land and envision the bounty that is fast approaching. My words were full of visions and promises, but they could hardly combat the certainty of summer. The only revenge was that I could have an actual birthday party and my sister had to be satisfied with family and only an unpredictable, but very low number of friends in attendance. But a victory is a victory, and I will take scraps if I have to, thank you.

Right about my birthday (the last day of winter), we would start thinking of cleaning out the closets, replacing the heavy wardrobe for the lighter summer clothes. That was also the time of spring cleaning, one of the most dreaded events in our household. And the month of March did not contain one single holiday away from school, which made it thirty one days too long! Apart from my birthday and a few weekends we spent skiing, there was little to look forward to in March.

My sister did not have to work to sell the height of summer to anyone – not that she would, even if she had to. By that time, everyone in town was sporting a healthy sun-kissed tan, summer break was at its best, the streets were teeming with teenagers, the city pool was the place to be, and parents were stewing in summer heat long enough not to be bothered to keep everything in check. Which was another perk of the late summer. Damn.

Peaches

As if that were not enough, the crates of peaches started appearing in our back yard, grown on the farm of our family friends. And I am not talking about your ordinary, supermarket quality fruit. These beauties were hand-picked  at the peak of their ripeness, gently laid into the crates covered with crumpled newspaper like babies in cradles, their red, and orange, and yellow fuzzy faces looking up. We approached them with the predictability of Pavlov’s dogs, salivating at the mere thought of their fragrant, luscious flesh that yielded so easily to our teeth and tongues, oblivious of the aromatic, sweet juices running down our chins and staining our tee-shirts.

Summer for me is not at its height without peaches. They encapsulate the best nature has to offer, holding the essence of the sun in their perfect round shape. I had a chance to summon the taste of those long-gone summers a month ago when I was in Serbia. A crate appeared again in the back yard and I could not wait to sink my teeth into the soft fruit, anticipating a flood of memories. And I was not disappointed. I have stopped resenting my sister and her birth season long ago. Every summer, while in Serbia, I buy gladiolus frequently, even when she is not with me in our childhood home. I eat peaches with abandon, smiling, awash with nostalgia, remembering those lazy, care-free summers of our youth when everything seemed possible.

SUMMER PEACH CAKE

This recipe is very versatile as you can use many different fruits instead of peaches. It works wonderfully well with sour cherries, plums, and apples.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sunflower oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cups brown sugar, packed
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cups milk
  • ½ cup plain yogurt (or buttermilk)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2-3 ripe peaches, peeled and cut into wedges

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a square pan (9×9) with foil and oil it lightly.

Cream the oil and both sugars until combined. Add the eggs, milk and yogurt. Mix in the flour and the baking powder. Pour half of the dough into the pan. Place the peaches on top and cover with the rest of the dough.

Bake until golden brown (the knife inserted in the middle should come out dry). Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes. Serve sprinkled with powder sugar.

11 Responses to Peachy Keen

  1. Christina says:

    This looks wonderful, Lana! I make something similar called “Eve’s Pudding” with apples. As always, your writing is so evocative! I hope you were given A+s in writing! :)

    • Lana says:

      Thanks, Christina:) This cake is very versatile and I also use apples in the fall. As far as writing, I usually got A+, unless a teacher did not like my style:)

  2. What a simple and lovely cake Lana! Do you think nectarines would work and could greek yogurt be subbed for the plain or would it be too thick? Probably need some other liquid then right?

    Another lovely post.

    • Lana says:

      Thanks, Beth:) I am sure you can use nectarines – I made this cake with a variety of fruits. I think peaches are easier to peel, but peeling is not really necessary. You are right about Greek yogurt – the ratio of milk and yogurt/buttermilk would have to be changed.

  3. Jenny says:

    That does look peachy keen! I am on a peach kick – making pirate peaches, spicy peachy chutney…and I have a basket of peaches to do something else with this week – maybe I’ll throw your cake into the mix!

  4. LiztheChef says:

    Lovely cake – and love that is uses no butter…

    • Lana says:

      Liz, I tried to play with the amount of fat used in this cake, substituting half of it with seltzer (just a crazy idea I had for fluffier dough), but the results were disappointing. And oil works better than butter because it’s in liquid form:)

  5. Simply divine… the recipe, your writing, the memories, and you.

  6. Ilke says:

    I have missed you too, friend! Two weeks ago, every time I tried to visit, your page did not load. I am glad it is back (at least for me).
    Love the cake and I will try this with plums. Your last sentence hit me “care-free summers of our youth when everything seemed possible”
    Indeed. Wish we did not put any stops on our path when we grow up.

  7. sippitysup says:

    March brings hope and promise. Two of life’s greatest gifts. GREG

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