Cake Girl

Tuesday seemed like a good night to bake a cake.

Found thisย recipe for what was deemed a “simple summer cake” and thought, I got this. The last time I tried to make one was a lemon pound cake for PrEaster (a lunch tradition with friends the day before Easter). It tasted amazing, but looked like peeling skin on top because I didn’t grease up the bundt pan enough–typical non-instruction-follower mistake.

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So you’d probably think that someone who decides to bake a cake would have a cake pan, right? You’d be wrong. We’re talking about me here, people. Let’s get serious. Of course I don’t have the everyday 9″ cake pan found in most American homes, even those of people who never bake.

I’ve got pie plates, muffin tins, tart pans, a deep dish spring form pan, and…a bundt.

Bundt pan it was! This time, I buttered the hell out of that pan and then floured it well. It was handed down to me when I expressed a new interest in baking from my good friend’s mom (who basically has adopted me into their big, Greek family) and it is well-used and full of the feels, so I was happy to use it again.

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I got busy measuring and actually reading the directions fully through TWICE before starting any of the steps. There were a few suggestions for changes and I already decided one I would follow. I would use peaches instead of berries. Being in season and full of sweetness, I added just a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon to the slices and let them soak in those flavors while preparing the batter.

For the batter, I also switched up a few things. Instead of just vanilla extract, I did half of vanilla and half of almond extract. I don’t like an overpowering of either, so I thought a little of each might work. I hope it’s clear by now that the cook in me just can’t stick to recipes. It’s an uncontrollable urge to make them different somehow. To make them my own even if the trial turns out a disaster. So far, I’ve been lucky. The batter came together easily, poured that into the pan, topped with the peach slices and sprinkled brown sugar on top instead of more white, and popped that baby into the oven.

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Twenty-eight minutes later, I pulled it and it looked pretty good. A little dark on the edges, but I did notice that I could SEE the edges. They weren’t stuck to the bundt! After letting it set in the pan for ten, I placed one of my new cooling racks (thank you, Angela!) over the top and got ready to flip it. This was a nervous moment. Could I handle another stuck cake? I was feeling fragile.

But then…wooooooot hoooooooooooooooooty hooooooooooot!

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Came out pretty darn clean, if I do say so myself. Yes, a little browner than I’d like, but certainly not burned or inedible. Then the question arose, do I keep it displayed this way and make some sort of sugary glaze to drizzle on top? Or flip it to show the peach slices and leave it alone? I decided the top with the peaches was too pretty to cover up with me wanting to show off my success with a bundt pan and I would bring it to work peach-side up and share with everyone.

Peach cake and coffee sounds like a good way to stave off the mid-week slump.

Plus, it’s purty.

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Simple Summer Peach Cake

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Pie Day: Deep Dish Peach

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Today, I officially added pie making to my list of therapeutic activities. I’m not a huge sugar/dessert fiend, I prefer salty/savory foods on the whole, but pie is an exception. If there is a pie around, I will eat it. Regardless of type or time of day, pie trumps cakes, cookies, ice cream, or any other sweet treat for me.

This is only the sixth pie I’ve made, being new to baking, but I’m addicted. I like the way the process slows me down, forces me to be patient. I’ve always loved cooking for the creativity and flexibility of it. You have to keep moving, keep dishes timed and rolling, instinctively knowing measurements because you don’t have time to dilly dally with all that. Working in restaurant kitchens taught me almost everything I needed to know, but it definitely did not teach me patience. Baking is showing me how to slow things down and still be creative.

Summertime is the time for fruit pies, so this Sunday pie day I decided to take on a deep dish peach pie. A few months ago, I found a recipe for a deep dish cherry pie and knew I had to try it because of the crust. It’s all about the crust for me with pies and this recipe called for a 9″ spring form pan to make the pie in. I knew it would be true love when I saw the picture of that thick, flaky crust.

It turned out to be a less than stellar experience. Hours and hours and me with little to no patience. I thought at numerous points that I would just lose it and throw the damn thing out into the yard for the critters. But it ended up being pretty darn good. By the end of it, I had made mental notes on what to do differently and knew I would attempt it again. Since peaches are now in season and abundant here in the south, peach pie it is this time around.

I used this recipeย for the crust and this recipe for the peach filling (although I adjusted the sugar amount and added a secret ingredient). I recommend always reading reviews before starting a recipe. There were quite a few important changes suggested in the reviews and those were a big time help.

wpid-wp-1440348463994.jpgFirst things first, the dough. I put the dough together the night before. The dough recipe I used has a lot of butter in it, so it’s very important to chill it between each step. Prepping the dough the night before cut out one of the chill periods, which helped with the patience aspect for me. Once rolled out and pressed into the spring form pan, it went back into the fridge for at least 30 mins., but I just left mine in for as long as it took me to peel, pit, and slice the peaches.

Oh, the peaches. When using these deep dish pans, you need a lot, I mean A LOT, ย of fruit to fill it up. I think I ended wpid-wp-1440348466825.jpgup with somewhere between 6-7 pounds of peaches (and probably could have used another pound easily). This is why I stick with fruit that is in season…and usually on sale. The prep of the peaches left my hands achey, but the smell of their sweetness got me through this phase smoothly.

Sugar & spices time. I cut the amount of sugar from the recipe by a quarter cup because I like the natural sweetness and flavor of the fruit to be apparent. Another change I made was to only use brown sugar instead of the mix. I added the fresh lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a secret ingredient…I like to add a little something to each baking recipe to bring in my love of the creativity of cooking to the process.

Meanwhile, the pie crust needs to be par baked. Parchment paper and dried beans, into the oven for 15 mins. at 425 and then another 10 mins. without the beans to get the liquid on the bottom cooked off. While the par-baked pie crust cooled to room temperature, it was time to roll out the extra third of pie dough and cut it into lattice strips for the top.

wpid-wp-1440348458655.jpgWith the pie crust cooled and the lattice strips done, I pulled out the sugared & spiced peaches from the fridge, poured off a little of the liquid, and added the cornstarch. Many of the reviews said to add more cornstarch than the recipe called for, so I added two extra tablespoons. The extra cornstarch helped, but the real trick is to let the pie cool completely after baking, which is the hardest part of the process…waiting to try.

The lattice was brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with granulated sugar then in went that deep dish peach pie at 425. I put a ring of aluminum foil around the edges so they didn’t overcook and put it on the second to bottom oven rack with a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest rack underneath to catch any liquids that dripped out. I learned this the hard way when I smoked out the entire house with the deep dish cherry pie drippings. The recipe called for a baking time of 45 mins., but using a spring form pan, I knew it would have to be longer. I did 50 mins. at 425 and then lowered the temp to 375 for another 30 mins., taking the foil edges off at that time. These deep dish pies are heavy mofos, so be careful when placing in the oven and when taking out.

*Recommended song to play as you’re about to pull this beast out of the oven and fall in love in a big way…Big Loveย 

And here’s that bad boy fresh out the oven…

wpid-wp-1440357950969.jpgIt didn’t get the full recommended six hours to cool completely, but the extra cornstarch held it together pretty well. Still a bit warm on the inside and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it was delicious. The amount of sugar was perfect to allow the taste of the peaches to carry their own and the crust was buttery and flaky goodness. Another pound or so of peaches would have been nice since they cook down quite a bit and there was some fall to the pie. Really need to pile the fruit above the top of the pan to start. Overall, the people were pleased.

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As summer comes to a close, hopefully soon, I’m thinking next up will be some sort of chocolate pie. The patience that is demanded from this process is good for many aspects of my life from work to writing to gardening. I am definitely a new addict to the art and science of baking. Time to start looking for the next recipe to make my own!