When I last posted, I had a counter full of fruit awaiting my attention. Since then, all of the stone fruit has taken on new forms. The peaches primarily ended up being eaten out of hand (sometimes more than 1 a day!) and frozen in slices for future use in smoothies and winter baked goods. All except for this one, which we grilled.
Oh my goodness. If you have access to a good peach right now, DO THIS! We grilled it on a sheet of foil with the cut side down until it was soft to the touch. The cream topping was something I made up, inspired by this recipe. I liked the idea of honey, nutmeg and ginger, but I didn't want to use Cool Whip and cream cheese, nor did I have either of them on hand. What I did have was a fresh tub of sour cream. So, I took two spoonfuls of sour cream, a tablespoon or so of honey, 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg and a 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger and I quickly stirred it together. When the peach came off of the grill, we each took a dollop of the cream and plopped it on top. I grabbed a quick photo before we dug in.
The grilled peach came about when Paul said, "The grill is hot, do you have anything you want to throw on it?" I am so happy the answer that came to mind was, "YES! A PEACH!" and that I was one peach shy of being out of them. This was so simple and so delicious. There is a reason why peaches and cream are paired so often. Then, when you throw in the honey, ginger and nutmeg, it really puts it over the top. Subbing in sour cream worked so well as it gave all of the rich, sweetness a bit of a tangy edge. It was so good that Paul, who isn't a sweet-loving person, facebooked it. Seriously, make this ASAP. I bought more peaches from the store today, so I can do it again before peach season is history.
Fueled by a delicious lunch, I set to the preserving tasks of the day. The plums had indeed patiently waited, ripening in their brown bags, until Saturday, when I had time to process them. I wanted to do something simple, so I opted for halving, pitting and processing them in a medium vanilla bean syrup.
This yielded a mixed bag as far as success goes. The downside was the jars experienced some siphoning after coming out of the canner. I am not sure what caused the siphoning, but if I do this again, I will let the jars sit in the hot water bath for a bit after they are done processing. If you have any tips about preventing siphoning, I am all ears. The upside is, I am getting to see a snazzy, technicolor show as the plums let go of their color into the syrup. It is wild looking! All of the photos in this post are straight out of the camera. The colors are really that vivid!
For immediate, plum-based gratification, I turned to Rustic Fruit Desserts' Stone Fruit Tea Cake (recipe available here). This tea cake, in addition to being a delicious treat, was a test of sorts. This is the 3rd recipe I have made from this book. The first two were messes. Literally messes. The Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake leaked caramel all over my oven and then, when turned upside down, some of the caramel was soft and other parts were like pear candy. I take the blame for that one as I used a spring form pan when I should have used a solid bottom pan.
So, I gave it a while and then I tried Grandma Freeman's Jam Cake. This one was made in a bundt cake pan and had jam stirred into it. My jam settled to the bottom of the pan as it baked, so when it came time to turn the cake out of the pan, it fell apart into a sticky, jammy mess. I patched it back together and started to make the glaze. The glaze ended up super thick and unpourable. Since the cake was in shambles, I could taste it before deciding on my glaze strategy. I am glad I did because the cake did not need any more sugar. Holy cow, it was sweet. I ditched the glaze entirely.
Both desserts tasted good and were well spiced. Luckily for me, the pear cake was for my mom and the jam cake was for my dad, so I felt like I could still share them even though were wonky. This book gets so many raves that I felt like maybe I was doing something wrong, so I gave it another try with the tea cake.
I baked the cake for the stated amount of time. I took it out when the top was lightly browned and the cake was firm to the touch, as instructed. I let it cool a bit and then cut into it. It was mushy and raw underneath the baked exterior. At this point, I had already moved on to roasted tomatoes in the oven. I figured it couldn't get much worse than a raw cake, so I put it back in the oven (at a slightly lower temperature, since that is what the tomatoes needed) and I left it in there for a good long while. I am thinking this cake ended up baking for somewhere around twice the amount of time the recipe stated. Thankfully, in the end, it turned out delicious and perfectly baked. The plums and peaches made for juicy bits in a slightly sweet cake with crispy turbinado sugar baked on top. Still, I can't help but wonder: what the heck is up with this book?
I had hoped I would be able to make another run back to my foraging spot to get another round of plums as I took just about 4 pounds my first time. I was thinking the fruit would benefit from a little bit longer on the tree. Alas, these plums are it for me this year as someone else has gone through and taken every last one of them since I was there last. There were around 9 trees in the spot I found, so somebody made off with an enormous haul. I hope they don't let them go to waste!
Next up: tomatoes!