Wow, what a glorious summer we have had. I can’t remember a summer with better weather in the 23 years I’ve lived in Seattle. It’s been mostly sunny and warm. Every day. It’s truly been a gift. I can’t tell you how much we have been enjoying it. The past few days have been the exception—we’ve gotten some torrential downpours to make up for all of the rain we missed during the rest of the summer. But that’s been it—now it is sunny and warm again. Although there is a hint of fall in the air. As usual, the summer has gone by very quickly. It feels like it just started, I blinked, and now it’s nearly time for Girlfriend to go back to school.
This week has been devoted to preparing for school. I helped Girlfriend shovel out her room (I’m serious when I say “shovel”—the amount of stuff on the floor in there always boggles my mind), find her backpack and big binder, and organize her desk. We got all of her school supplies as well as a new lunchbox (her old one had gotten so gross, wow). I’m feeling quite proud of us on this one—usually we wait until the day before school to do this and then everything is sold out. And we dropped off her Epi-Pen at the school nurse’s office and completed all of the forms for that (Girlfriend has a life-threatening peanut allergy, so this is a yearly ritual for us).
The days are getting shorter, which is always bittersweet for me. I love summer, but I do enjoy fall as well. Getting back into the school year routine will be good for us after our lovely summer of freedom. Girlfriend and I usually take a walk around the neighborhood each evening. For most of the summer in Seattle, it stays light until about 9:30 pm. So, we can walk later. Now, I’ve been noticing that it’s dark by about 8:30—so we need to adjust our schedule to walking a bit earlier. The park next door, which used to be an orchard and still contains many fruit trees, is full of windfall apples. We usually pick up several on our way through to give to the chickens. They love apples! I have found that chickens are like kids. They often like the sweeter things like fruit, carrots, and beets. And, they love leafy greens. But they turn their beaks up at cauliflower and broccoli.
The farmer’s market is now full of peaches. I wait all year for the peaches. I love them. They are my favorite fruit. Usually, at the very end of summer I get a box of peaches from the farmer’s market to freeze. I blanch, peel, slice, and freeze them on cookie sheets and them transfer them to ziplock bags. This way we have peaches all year round. I also freeze bags of berries. Currently the freezer is so full of frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries that not much else fits in there.
We also eat the peaches fresh and, of course, I bake with them. This year I found a recipe from Ina Garten’s book Barefoot Contessa: How Easy is That? that we love! Of course, you know how much I love her and her recipes, so I knew it would be a winner. And it is. This cake is another peach-pecan mix—which is my new favorite combination. You can substitute walnuts if you’d like, or you can just not use the nuts, if preferred. I will say that I love the crunch and the flavor that they add, though. Either way, it’s now on my end-of-summer baking rotation. Yum!
Fresh Peach Cake, Gluten-Free
-adapted from Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?, by Ina Garten
2 cups (280 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt (the large-grained salt) or regular salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1 ¼ cups (125 g) granulated sugar, divided
½ cup (115 g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (235 ml) sour cream (or plain yogurt), room temperature (make sure it is gluten-free)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large, ripe peaches peeled, pitted and sliced
½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped (you can omit the nuts if desired)
extra melted butter for pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4. Grease a 9-inch/23 cm square pan with the melted butter.
In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
In another small bowl, mix together ¼ cup of granulated sugar and the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of sugar on medium high until light and fluffy—about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low until combined. Beat on medium high until light and fluffy, 1 minute. Add vanilla and sour cream, beating on low until combined.
With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture until well combined.
Spread half of the batter into the pan. The batter is quite thick and this will take a bit of spreading. Top the batter layer with ½ of the sliced peaches. Sprinkle with 2/3 of the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top of this, arrange the remaining peaches on top, sprinkle with pecans, and then with the remaining sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees F until a tester inserted in the center comes out fairly clean—about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool in pan on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Store loosely covered, at room temperature, for 1 day. Then store loosely covered in the refrigerator for about 3 days. The fresh peaches in this cake make it prone to spoiling fairly quickly. Also, note that the juice from the peaches will soak into the cake over time, so the cake layers become spongy and peach-infused after about the first day or so.