I find it appropriate that I am following up a post about summer tomatoes with a post about summer peaches. Brian and I have long had the argument over which is our favorite summer fruit, with him typically landing on the tomato side of the line and me on the peach. It is a close race, for sure. Both are delicious only during their season, each overlapping the other during July and August in Virginia. We rarely eat tomatoes outside of summer, and never peaches, unless we've put some away in jars and freezer bags. The limited window of availability makes peaches and tomatoes all the more special, precious even, and we indulge ourselves in both when they are available. Right now, as I write this, there are roughly 20 pounds of peaches and 30 pounds of tomatoes spread across my dining room. 50 pounds of fruit, friends. I think we have a problem...
After venturing out to Chiles Peach Orchard with a girlfriend a few days ago, I found the first thought swirling through my head involved a dense, peach-topped, breakfast-y cake. A cake with some heft; a good base to start the morning off just right. After some searching I came across Emeril's Cornmeal Olive Oil Cake with Poached Peaches...(the name goes on...), and modified it to suit my own desire for a simple, one-component breakfast cake. I am so very, very pleased with the result. The rosemary-scented cornmeal crumb is dense and savory with moments of crunch and highlights of salt. It sounds strange, I know, but there really are occasional bites that taste salty, while the majority offer a mild sweetness courtesy of the honey and fruit. It is a cake full of wonderful contrasts; sweet paired with salty, the crunch of cornmeal with the softness of peaches.
I wouldn't pigeonhole this cake into the dessert category; it really could pass as a cornbread side dish at a backyard barbecue. But I think the perfect place for it would be brunch...where savory sweets are wanted and expected. It is a new favorite in our house, for sure, and even further muddies the race between the tomato and the peach...
Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan. (next time I will use a springform pan so that I can remove the cake whole)
Into a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the cornmeal and the rosemary.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolk, milk, olive oil, and lemon zest with an electric mixer until frothy. Add the sugar and honey, and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour into the prepared pan and top with the peach slices.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 35 minutes, or until a tester comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack. If using a springform pan you can remove the cake whole, otherwise you can slice it in the pan and remove individual slices to serve.
After asking you all what your favorite summer produce is (as part of the Saucy Mama Giveaway - see bottom of post) Brian and I had a discussion to sort out our favorites. I didn’t realize what a tough decision it would be to make! There are so many options, and I feel that my mind changes every few weeks as a new fruit or vegetable ripens into its season. We settled on tomatoes and peaches as our top two, and an entertaining debate ensued. In the end Brian’s number one was tomatoes and mine was peaches, and although the results are questionable (peaches and tomatoes are at their peak right now which brings up the issue of bias...) we each appreciated the merits of the other’s argument.
I’ll spare you the tomato argument today - it will have its place in the weeks to come, I promise. Instead, lets focus on peaches. Those perfect, plump, juicy globes with all the colors of the sunset splattered across their fuzzy skin. I love them - absolutely and with all the fervor deserved after waiting ten months for their reappearance in my daily diet. In their season, allowed to ripen on the tree and consumed within a couple of days of picking, fresh summer peaches are nothing like the bland, grainy imposters that fill bins in the supermarket during the off-season months.
The peaches themselves played strongly into my final decision. Those flavorful bites - sweet with a little bit of tart - that result in juice running down your arms to your elbows are pretty hard to beat. But the clincher, that final argument that sealed peaches firmly into the number one position on my summer produce scale, was their procurement. The actual act of wandering the orchard, ducking into the dappled shade provided by row after row of trees, finding the perfect peach and picking it with my own hands. Brian and I have been to Chiles Peach Orchard three times already in the six weekends that pick-your-own peaches have been available, coming home with 25 pounds after each visit.
What does one (or in this case, two) do with 75 pounds of fresh peaches? Many wonderful things, dear readers. You’ve already heard about one, the slow-rise peach pancakes that graced our table one Sunday breakfast. There have been peaches in smoothies, oatmeal and on top of cereal. They’ve been baked in the folds of buttery pastry, grilled to perfection on the grill and simmered with blackberry puree’ to form the most delicious jam. I’ve even frozen half-a-dozen quarts for future cobblers and milkshakes during the off-season. I hope to share all of these recipes with you, but for now, I leave you with my newest addiction - Peach Bread.
I’ve made variations of this recipe several times in the last few weeks, tweaking a bit each time until declaring this final version my favorite. It is based loosely on a recipe of my momma’s, with a bit of influence from Molly’s banana bread in A Homemade Life and a lot of gut instinct. Dense and moist with an almost cake-like crumb, this bread has all the flavors of a classic peach cobbler. I love it icy cold, taken straight from the fridge and paired with a cup of coffee for breakfast, but it is also delicious for dessert after being warmed briefly and topped with french vanilla ice cream.
Peach Breadmakes 1 loaf
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt (I used 0% fat Oikos Greek yogurt)
2 cups peaches (about 2 large peaches), peeled and diced
1 large peach, peeled and sliced thinly (for top of bread)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup dried ginger, chopped finely (optional)
Preheat oven to 350*. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with cooking spray.
Cream the butter . Gradually add sugar and mix to combine well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in yogurt and diced peaches.
Combine flour, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in medium bowl. Add ginger, if using. Add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring until just blended.
Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. Place peach slices across top of batter, in decorative pattern. Bake at 350* for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes on wire rack. Remove loaf from pan and let cool completely before slicing.
Saucy Mama Giveaway!
Congrats to Shelby of La Belle Vegan and Rose of On A Lobster Placemat for being the winning commenters picked by Random.org! Send me an email at email@example.com with your full name and address so that I can get your Lime Chipotle Marinade out to you. Congrats ladies!
Well, slow-rise for my pancakes that is. I, on the other hand, have changed things up a bit since my last Sunday Mornings post. You see, I’ve started running again. Not that I ever really stopped, I just slowed down a bit and wasn’t serious about increasing my mileage or training for any races. If you’ve been reading for awhile, a long while, you may remember when bella eats was a food and running diary. If not, and you’re interested, you can read a bit about my running story here and here.
I don’t know what it is about running, but I feel like I have a little addiction to it. The funny thing about that is that I don’t particularly like to run. And I always seem to injure myself, which to me seems like a sign that maybe my body doesn’t like for me to run either. But I keep coming back, and every few months I get the urge to sign up for a big race to motivate me to increase my mileage. This time it started innocently enough, with registration for the Charlottesville Women’s 4-Miler on September 5th, which I run every year. From there it was easy to say “Hey! Why not go ahead and run the Pepsi 10K 2 weeks later?” And now, my crazy little head is thinking that maybe a half marathon isn’t all that bad, and the one in Richmond on November 14th is timed pretty perfectly...
Its enough to make a girl feel a little crazy - all this back-and-forth, love/hate relationship with running stuff. But you have to understand that I read some prettyinspiringblogs, written by some ladies who until the last couple of years weren’t runners but have still managed to run half and even full marathons. Add to that my over-achiever personality and the fact that I haven’t yet completed a “long” race even though I’ve trained for two, which doesn’t sit well with me. And the last motivator is, well, food. I eat a pretty healthy daily diet full of veggies, whole grains and limited animal products but, as you’ve seen here at bella eats, I also really like to bake. And I really really like pancakes.
Because Saturday mornings are reserved for the farmer’s market and a vinyasa yoga class, I’ve made Sunday mornings my long run days. This has been tough for me, as Sunday mornings have historically been leisurely, quiet and full of baked goods. I’m slowly adjusting, but have decided that recipes that can be started the night before (and the bloggers / chefs that share them) are going to be my new best friends. I tried my first last weekend, courtesy of the amazingly creative Vegan Yum-Yum blog, and was doubly motivated to finish my run in good time as I thought about the pancake batter coming to room temperature in my kitchen. Like a carrot being dangled in front of my nose, the promise of fluffy, yeast-risen pancakes embedded with slices of fresh-from-the-tree peaches kept me chugging along.
Once home I switched on the stove to heat my griddle, added some cooking spray and slowly ladled pools of the yeast-full batter I’d made the night before. As the batter set I added the peach slices and waited for the tiny bubbles forming on the surface of the ‘cakes to start to pop, then flipped them over to reveal the golden brown surface below. I woke Brian, who quickly went to get us coffee (since I broke our french press carafe last week, sob), and we settled around the table no later than usual. The only difference this Sunday morning had to those of our past was that post-run, an indulgent Sunday breakfast is so much more satisfying.
One bite in and I knew that these were the best pancakes I'd had. Ever. Light and fluffy, with a nice yeast-y tone, they were complimented beautifully by the sweet peaches and real maple syrup. We had leftovers, and they kept very well in an airtight container in the fridge until I re-heated them in the oven for breakfast this morning.
Slow-Rise Pancakesadapted from Vegan Yum-Yummakes (12) 4-inch pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1-1/2 cups milk (I used plain almond milk)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup milk, for thinning if desired
Mix together the dry ingredients.
Add the milk (not the 1/3 cup), vegetable oil and egg and mix until combined well.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, thin the batter if needed. Let sit on the counter for 30 minutes before making pancakes.
Heat your non-stick pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray or rub with butter.
Using 1/3-cup measure, begin making pancakes. I laid peach slices in mine once the batter was set, but feel free to add apples, bananas, dates, etc. If you'd like to add blueberries, currants, chocolate chips (anything small) I usually add them directly to the batter in the bowl.