Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Cake That Took Two People, Three Hours and a Bushel of Peaches

It started with a box of peaches from the Saturday Market on the River.

Actually it was a bushel of peaches, which my brother and I ridiculously decided to split for our respective households. Ridiculous because a half-bushel of peaches is actually a good 25 to 30 peaches and in my household there's just the two of us. But the peaches were irresistable, that perfect velvet rose gold, and smelled heavenly even from a few feet away. And since our experiment earlier this year of ordering farm-fresh vegetables delivered to our home, we've had a lot of experience coming up with ways to use up massive amounts of fruits and vegetables.

First, we counted out 10 for us to eat just as snacks. 15 to go.

Then 2 for my special chicken curry that I usually use canned peaches in, instead of the mango that's called for. 13 to go.

Then 2 for homemade peach ice cream. Creamy, perfect, and so much better than storebought. 11 to go.

Then the cake.

It was my mom's birthday and I was determined that she would get something with peaches (luckily, she likes them!). I didn't want to do a cobbler--too expected!--so spent a Saturday morning googling recipes. Did you know that peaches aren't used very often in cakes? In my mind's eye, I imagined a tall proud cake, layers golden and rich with chopped peaches, and five perfect peach halves gracing the white-iced top. The reality was just so...mundane. There was a peach pound cake and even a peach cake, but they all sounded like desserts from the back of a package, baked in a bundt pan and meant to be dumped out on a table with a bunch of other desserts at a potluck. And you have to have frosting with a birthday cake!

Then Texas Monthly appeared on the seventh or eighth search page. A former boss of mine loved the magazine, so I knew this had the potential of being very good. And the name, Dulce De Leche Cake Peach Cake, was magical.

It was also very long and rather complicated, with steps for the icing, filling and the cake itself, so my husband pitched in. (When a recipe calls for you to boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk for two hours, you know it's going to be complicated!). While he peeled and chopped the peaches, toasted and chopped pecans and made the filling, I mixed up the light, buttery batter. Cooking together hasn't always worked for us, but somehow this did. As my husband said later, "We were both working...hard!...for three solid hours!"

While the cake baked, the dreamy dulce de leche icing--the milk cooked into a creamy caramel sauce that strangely smelled like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese but tasted sweet and delicious--came together. Once the cake cooled, my husband was almost like a little kid as he carefully iced the cake and I placed the decorative pecans on top.

It was a solid hefty cake that my family oohed over and despite a heavy steak dinner consumed a good half in a matter of moments. While we really only used up about 4 peaches, everyone agreed that it was one of the best cakes they ever had (thanks, Texas Monthly!).

Unfortunately, we got a little peached out and the remaining six are making some nice compost in our backyard. But we still have a little dish of the frosting in the fridge. I'm thinking of making another cake.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

iPod Redux

Thanks to my gorgeous, easy-on-the-eyes, companiable, and oh-so-friendly iTouch (yes, I'm in love), I've been able to revisit songs I loved but almost forgot. Most of it's country--and no matter what anyone says about country, I think it has some of the prettiest, pull-out-your heart lyrics and melodies. Some old faves:

I dressed up and went out on the town, to places you'd never go. I always wondered what I'd do without you, Now I know.~Lari White

My love is deeper than the holler, stronger than the river, higher than the pine trees growing tall upon the hill, my love is purer than the snowflakes that fall in late December, and honest as a robin on a springtime windowsill and longer than the song of a whipporwill~Randy Travis

Saw your picture on a poster on a cafe out in Phoenix, Guess you're still the sweetheart of the rodeo. But as for me and little Casey, we still make the circuit, in a one-horse trailer and a mobile home. She still asks you about you all the time, and I guess we never even cross your mind. But then sometimes I think about you and the way you used to ride out, in your rhinestones and your sequins, with the sunlight on your hair. And oh the crowd would always love you, but as for me I've come to know, Everything that glitters is not gold~Dan Seals

A long December and there's reason to believe, maybe this year will be better than the last~Counting Crows

Don't wanna be standing here, and I don't wanna be talking here, and I don't really care who's to blame. Cause if love won't fly on its own free will, it's gonna catch that outbound plane~Suzy Bogguss

She's says she's gonna leave me, momma, nothing on God's green earth will make her stay...But if I'm so much like my Dad, there must have been times you felt her way. So tell me word for word, what he said, that always made you stay~George Strait

I would have waited forever, if I'd known that you'd be here. We could have shared our lives together, and held each other close through all the years. But I met someone before you, and my heart just couldn't wait. So no matter how much I adore you, I've got to stand behind the promise that I made~Reba McIntyre