Showing posts with label open face peach cake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label open face peach cake. Show all posts

Monday, June 24, 2013

Just Peachy!

For quite a while, I've been promising to tell you a little bit about my new series. The Paws & Claws Mysteries take place on fictional Wagtail Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Believe it or not, Wagtail is a real word. What do you guess it might mean?

a) a happy dog
b) a dog tail with particularly long feathery fur
c) a genus of bird
d) a type of fish

I'll tell you the answer below!

But back to Wagtail. It was once a thriving resort where people went to take the waters. Now that we don't do that anymore, the town has had to reinvent itself, and Wagtail has gone to the dogs -- and cats. Literally. It has become the premier vacation spot for people who want to travel with their animals. Cats and dogs are welcome in the restaurants and inns. There are special menus for them (and yes, there will be recipes for dogs and people in the books). Wagtail offers just about everything cats and dogs could want on vacation. Special trails, birdwatching, massages, grooming, acupuncture, and of course, pet psychics to tell their human moms and dads how Fluffy and Fido feel. There's even a daily Yappy Hour (for the people).

Holly Miller's grandmother owns the Sugar Maple Inn on Wagtail Mountain. I won't give away all the details, but can you imagine living in a place where someone else does the cooking and cleaning every day? Holly is adopted by Twinkletoes, a calico kitten, and Trixie, a Jack Russell Terrier, who help her sniff out murderers. The first book, MURDER, SHE BARKED will be out December 3rd.

I had Holly and her grandmother on the brain when I finally saw fresh peaches for sale at the market. This is the just the sort of thing they would serve at the inn for afternoon tea, except with a dollop of whipped cream!

The recipe reminded me of my mother's Danish Apple Cake. Similar dough and similar cinnamon sugar topping, but made with peaches. It was published in the Houston Chronicle. Nanny Fraioli's family obviously takes great pride in her cake. The similarities between the two cakes are so striking that I can imagine housewives all over Europe baking similar cakes for their families as the harvest came in. They must have used whatever fruit happened to be plentiful at the time. Naturally, I had to try it.

It tastes a lot like the Danish Apple Cake. Neither of the cakes are as sweet or sugary as American cakes, but they don't need to be because they're showcasing the fruit. It's great to know this version can be made with peaches! I used butter instead of margarine, and when I make it again, I'll use a food processor to make the dough. It's quite sticky, so I sprinkled a little bit of flour on my hands to assist in spreading it out. I used parchment paper in the bottom of a rimmed 11 x 16 baking sheet. Purists may prefer to grease the pan with butter instead. I used 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon on top. The ingredients, with the exception of butter instead of margarine are Nanny Fraioli's, but the instructions are what I did. It will take 7 to 8 peaches.

Nanny Fraioli's Peach Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Dash of salt
4 1/2 tablespoons margarine (not spread), melted (plus more to dot on cake)
1 egg
Fresh peaches, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 375. Line an 11 x 16 rimmed baking pan with parchment paper (or grease with butter).

Melt 4 1/2 tablespoons butter and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Crack the egg into a liquid measuring cup, and fill with milk to the 3/4 mark. Combine the butter, flour mixture and milk/egg and mix together. It will be sticky. Press into the prepared pan with your fingers. Don't worry if it's not perfect. You can add just a bit of flour to reduce the stickiness, but too much will make it tough.

Peel the peaches and slice. Lay them in the pan, overlapping them slightly.

Dot the peaches with 1 tablespoon of butter, cut into 16 tiny pieces. Mix the cinnamon with the sugar and sprinkle over the peaches.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the bottom begins to turn golden brown.

So what's a Wagtail?
Which answer did you choose?
It's C, a genus of slender birds with long tails that they wag up and down.
Who knew? I didn't!