Growing up, on family birthdays we’d make rich chocolate cakes from a mix that came in a box. Open the bag, watch the cocoa powder puff into a cloud, add the eggs and some carelessly measured water and oil, lick the rubber spatula into oblivion, salmonella be damned. To make them extra fancy, we’d spread raspberry jam in between two layers. On top? Chocolate frosting, store bought, and rainbow sprinkles, of the tiny ball variety. The cakes were delicious, especially the next day and especially for breakfast.
We’d leave the butter knife under the plastic cake dome and sneak slices throughout the day. Fingertips temporarily made colorful from melting jimmies. I don’t think the cakes ever lasted long enough to be called dessert for a second night.
In the fall, pre-baby brother, Faye and I would often make an apple cake in the early morning on Thursdays, the day when my mom comes into the city to hang out with Faye, and when I start my work later in the day. We used a simple recipe, cribbed from this favorite picture book. The recipe’s simple; heavy on fruit and lighter on butter and sugar than some other things that go by the name of cake.
Lately Faye’s been wanting to recreate our fall ritual, but it’s been hot and the apples aren’t ready and there’s a brother who wants to crawl and be carried, preferably both at the same time and so I’ve been putting it off. This weekend though, a slightly cooler day and peaches at the market inspired a more August-appropriate riff. It’s a cake that’s perfect for breakfast and wonderful for snacking on throughout the day. You can play quite a bit with the amount of maple syrup or sugar and still come out with a cake that’s moist and delicious.
(And if you decide that chocolate cake first thing in the morning is more your speed, you won’t find complaint from me.)
adapted from Julie Paschkis’s book, Apple Cake
What you need:
3 peaches (2 diced, 1 sliced)
2 tablespoons butter, at room temp
1/2 – 3/4 cup maple syrup, according to taste (or ~1 cup cane sugar)
1 cup of flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
What to do:
+ Grease a square or round baking dish (the original recipe calls for a 9-inch pan, but an 11-inch dish worked just fine, too—just keep an eye on the time.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
+ Dice two peaches, removing the pit. For the topping, slice the third peach into thin slices and set aside.
+ In a large bowl, by hand or by mixer, beat softened butter and maple syrup or sugar. Add the egg and beat until well mixed.
+ In a different bowl (or if you’re as lazy as I am, right on top of the liquid ingredients), sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well. (If using maple syrup, the batter will be slightly runny, if using sugar, it will be quite thick. Both will turn out just fine after baking. Carry on.)
+ Mix diced peaches into the batter.
+ Spread batter into your pan.
+ Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and arrange peach slices in as pretty a spiral as you can manage.
+ Bake the cake until the edges pull away from the pan and it’s a rich golden brown (if you use syrup instead of sugar, your batter will be browner from the get-go, so account for that), about 60 minutes.
For the curious:
+ baking dish.
+ pastry server.
+ more about coffee and cups, here.
Oh, what a beautiful breakfast cake! Almost too pretty to eat. Almost . . . .
Have you tried with strawberries? I’m wondering about a peach strawberry combo….
Haven’t done. I’m sure it’d be delicious!
That sounds so good. I’ll go right into my kitchen and bake this cake (but because I’m a vegan I replace the butter with peanut butter and the egg with a banana – let’s see if it works).
Thx for the idea!
Four donut peaches from this weekend’s market now have purpose. Off to the kitchen! Thank you!
This sounds delicious! May give it a go this weekend. Side note: always appreciate your to do list & the ways it reflects the seasons (figuratively & literally). It’s fun to watch how it evolves.
Thanks! I never know if anyone’s paying attention to that list!
Another voice in appreciation of the to do list here! And for that matter, I’ve not commented before but your whole blog is firmly at the top of my favourites list – thank you for providing such lovely post-work reading material!
Thank you for the seasonal inspiration!
I seem to want to ask you questions that have no relevance to the blog post I comment under. But want your opinion :
As someone who is big on sustainability and carbon foot print, whats your take on having two children ? over population and climate change linger around the corner. This phd student in the department of sustainability in my university was quoting a study which claims that your footprint goes up 30 times when you have a child. It’s apparently a tricky and sensitive subject for them to come out and say have fewer children. I feel terrible asking you this question but have you given it some thought ?
If it offends you, please delete the comment. I dont mind.
Oh boy, Archana. First of all, goes without saying that I love my kids and don’t regret having two of them! To mitigate our carbon footprint, we do all sorts of things like eating a predominately vegetarian diet, living in a city and relying on public transportation, being mindful of our purchasing power, getting energy from renewable sources, educating ourselves about how to be better stewards of the planet, advocating for change at the government level, supporting nonprofits who are dedicated to fighting climate change, etc. In other words, I’m doing my best as often as I can.
I think this is a very important point. I find in the world of environmental activism (and probably every kind of activism), there is a lot of finger pointing –oh you don’t care because you aren’t a vegan; you had kids; you fly transatlantic, etc… I read the recent study about how the single greatest impact is to have one fewer child, but unfortunately I’m pregnant with my third so not much I can do about that. The second? Giving up your car. Well, I live in the midwest, and as much as I would love (and I try to!) ride my bike everywhere, it isn’t practical for getting my kids to their school and me to work in a timely fashion. I loved this piece by Treehugger a while back: https://www.treehugger.com/culture/why-green-lifestyle-choices-will-never-save-us.html which says that lifestyle choices are important to move us as a society forward, but it’s not enough. We need societal and governmental change. Nothing we do as individuals can make that big of an impact, except to the extent it moves us in the right direction, which I think is important. For example, I’m not a vegetarian, but we eat a predominately plant-based diet, with some meat and dairy, and we pretty much buy it all locally and organically. We live a close to zero-waste lifestyle because it’s important to us not to create waste and not to rely on plastic. We air dry our clothes when possible; turn off water and lights; and walk or ride our bikes when practical. These are all important things, and I hope that my lifestyle will help influence someone else’s. But I know that it won’t make a difference if our government does not promote and encourage wind and solar power or electric vehicles (hopefully run on wind or solar power) or encourage other acts that will reduce our greenhouse emissions.
I agree with you, Christie. When I read articles like this one (https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/10/100-fossil-fuel-companies-investors-responsible-71-global-emissions-cdp-study-climate-change), it makes me so angry that we continue to pretend that having children is the reason our planet is crumbling. I sometimes wonder whether the trend of sustainability is actually a way of distracting and self-blaming instead of pushing for structural change; perhaps not so different from how we, as a society, blame people for their poverty instead of the structures that create and perpetuate inequality. When you consider the United States’ history of forced sterilization (https://daily.jstor.org/when-forced-sterilization-was-legal-in-the-u-s/), advocating for fewer children becomes loaded with sinister implications. I think it’s great to reflect on our choices, especially one as monumental as reproducing, but it feels like avoiding the central problem while continuing to stigmatize parenthood. Thanks for creating a space to have these discussions, Erin.
Thank you Erin. There is no doubt about the impact you are having. Not just at a personal level but with the number of people who are influenced by you ( counting myself ) to make a change in our habits.
I am of the child bearing age and am torn when I see the data that the School of Sustainability has collected. I am a data scientist myself and its a little scary. ‘Should I have a child’ has become a big question in my circle. Trying to get a few perspectives in before I make up my mind. Again, thank you for responding.
Having children is deeply personal, but I would encourage you not to make the decision based on environmental data. I thought that I would never want kids, but at 30 (and in a relationship for 9 years), I started to think, “what if I regret not having kids.” And now here I am, almost 8 years later with two kids and one on the way. They have brought such joy to my life that I could never have expected, and I am so happy I did not make the decision to go childless. I absolutely respect those who decide kids aren’t for them. I get it. But if you think you want kids, go for it. Don’t decide not to just because that child may result in a larger carbon footprint. The world is changing, and we cannot say what it will be like in 5, 10, or 15 years. Sometimes, you have to be a little selfish and do what is right for you.
What if, by having children, we are enacting societal change by raising a new generation according to these values?
Thank you ladies. This is a sensative subject. Thank you for chiming in your thoughts and for the optimism.
A wonderful read if you are a parent from a scientists perspective :
This looks so delicious! I’m always looking for some new ways to use peaches since my family brings in lugs of peaches from Fresno! Excited to try during the next peach season 🙂
Oh wow it looks so delicious, I’ve seen some beautiful peaches in the market so I may just have to test this recipe out xoxo
Hmm, that sounds great! I’ll have to try this one!
Those round rainbow sprinkles are called hundreds and thousands here in Australia 😉
I’m definitely not adverse to cake for breakfast either!
I’m going to make this peach cake today.. thanks for sharing… and what lovely traditions you are creating with your kids – mine are grown now but they still tell me how appreciative they are of those little things, that are really not quite so little in the big picture. That chocolate cake you describe? One of our favorites around here – right down to the raspberry jam.
Eek – I am making this delicious-looking recipe right now. The ingredient list says baking powder and the diretions say baking soda? Hoping you see this soon 🙂
Whoops! Slip of the fingers! You’re right, baking powder!
Maybe you could fix this for future readers – definitely just used baking soda even though it struck me as a little odd! Hopefully it will still be delicious. 🙂
Sorry about that Erin! Got that comment while I was on the go and then forgot to edit the post when I was back at my desk!
It was still very tasty!
Update – I went with the baking powder as that made more sense to me – I think that was correct because the cake turned out very nicely! Thanks!
I had recently some cherries that were on their last leg, and they made a delicious variation!
Just reading thru the comments- I love that a post about peach cake has so many thoughtful comments about sustainability. Keep up the good work!
Phew—a way to use up all the peaches gathered from my parents’ tree on our last visit. I made this with gf flour (the Bob’s AP mix) and it turned out great!
This would be lovely w some blackberries tossed in too. Around here they grow like weeds!
oh so delicious for a slow saturday morning, thank you for sharing, Erin!
hi erin, just to report that i’ve baked it yesterday afternoon and it is now long gone! thank you for the recipe, it was delicious, just perfect for summer!!
Looks so delicious.
Definitely to try 😀
This is such a great Christmas morning treat and I’m pretty sure I can whip it up while my littles are still asleep. Thank you!
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