Peach Cake with Caramel Frosting

Peach Cake with Caramel Frosting

Like fruits, vegetables, holidays and clothing, I think baked goods also have seasons. 

Bread-baking is definitely a winter and fall season activity. Kneading becomes a way to warm up rather than a vigorous, sweaty exercise, and the temperature is cool enough that the dough won't rise too rapidly, or turn sour and ferment (unless on purpose!). One of the most wonderful things during the colder months is turning on the oven knowing that you’ll soon have a fresh, piping hot loaf of bread. Pair it with a soup or stew and it's the perfect winter's night meal. 

Whereas I will rarely turn on my oven to bake bread in the summer, I will for pies. As you may have noticed around here, summer is for pies and all of the things in the pie family—galettes, cobblers, crisps, pandowdies etc... This does seem counterintuitive because you are turning on your oven and crusts and toppings are in danger of melting during preparation, but this is the season when summer produce is at its peak. What better way to use it up than in a baked full-to-the-brim with the best fruit. I will, of course, bake pies all year round, but tend to make them more in the summer. 

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Classic Peach Pie

Classic Peach Pie

The last few weeks of August are here but even with the beautiful weather in the 80s we're having this week, I know summer will most likely be around until October for the Sacramento Valley.

Even though I love peaches, I've surprisingly found both white and yellow nectarines to be the tastier stone fruit this summer. They have been the perfect balance of tart and sweet with a juicy, smooth texture rather than hard or mealy. This has made them exceptionally good for everyday snacking and sometimes even simply just as dessert (shocking, I know). The peaches on the other hand, I have reserved for baking purposes rather than eating them raw. Even when their texture is not fantastic for regular eating, they have been amazing in galettes, scones, a pandowdy and this pie. 

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Apricot and Lime Galette

Apricot and Lime Galette

This is one of those recipes that took a while to develop but with some patience and some advice, I was able to get it to just the place I wanted it to be. 

On my summer journey to make every possible type of pie/cobbler/crumble type thing, I just had to throw a galette in there. I thought galettes were supposed to be easier than pies but I think I made it harder on myself. This first started with the idea of mini galettes as it had been a while since I'd made anything mini. I wanted to bring individual ones to work but also wanted to try a different shape other than the usual circle. I've been inspired by puff pastry lately so the idea of doing something with fruit on top of a square piece of pastry was in my head. However, galette dough is trickier to work with in smaller sizes and after many renditions of many rectangular galettes, I concluded that perhaps doing mini galettes was a bit ambitious. With a deep sigh, I went back to square one (literally). 

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Roasted Corn and Shishito Pepper Pizza

Roasted Corn and Shishito Pepper Pizza

Another summer, another year to roast the heck out of shishito peppers. 

Since my first introduction to these funny little peppers, I can't help but roast pints of them when they are in season. Usually I opt for some variation of this super simple method, and this year is no exception—they are best simply charred with a little bit of sea salt. 

So why not top them on pizza? 1 in 10 of these peppers has a bit of a fire, although for the most recent basket I bought it was more like 1 in 3. As a person who is still working on being comfortable with spicy foods, I'll eat them like chips until I get a particularly spicy one. Luckily, the fire from shishito peppers quickly fades away. This spice lends a similar kick to topping your pizza with crushed red pepper flakes but with more of a fresh pepper taste.

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Plum Upside-Down Cake

Plum Upside-Down Cake

Stone fruit upside-down cakes and I don't always get along.

There was one really spectacular one I made three summers ago and since then, I haven't made one as tasty as that one except for this winter Mandarinquat Upside-Down Cake. Or perhaps I should say, I've been afraid to make one again in fear of it being exceptionally soggy or having a really gnarly top. Trying to get an upside-down cake to both look beautiful and to be baked just right is a challenge that is quite difficult to achieve. 

Although I prefer fresh cherries over cooked cherries, I prefer cooked plums over fresh plums. Sometimes the skin on plums can be too sour or bitter and I much prefer the sweetness and texture of peaches, nectarines or apricots. So plums get deemed as fruit that I will bake with or use as smoothie options.

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Strawberry Cream Cheese Scones II

Strawberry Cream Cheese Scones II

If you've been around here a while, you'll know that I posted about these scones two years and some months ago

And... I haven't made them since then. Not because they are horrible but because I get on these waves of making new foods that are often using up other foods that I forget about some really great recipes I have already written about. This recipe is still solid but the photos needed a major refresh. I'm at the point now where I can tell how my food styling and photography has changed as I've started to develop my style. I'm still figuring that out but I think these photos are 100% better than the ones I took two and a half years ago. You can find the original recipe here

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Summer Fruit Cobbler

Summer Fruit Cobbler

Summer—It's here to stay until at least October by Sacramento Valley standards.

I am slowly accepting that the 80ºF we got on 4th of July was a miracle and that the 90º-112ºF is here to stay for the next few months. With my black car's AC not working, it's been extra fun, I mean extra training. Today, I went to Costco and was very, very concerned that the butter I got was going to melt by the time I got home (I forgot my freezer bag) but thankfully it survived. I also barely survived and basked in the glory of my apartment's AC before finding energy to get food. One day I'll look back on this and either think I was crazy for not getting my car fixed sooner or pat myself on the back for enduring the Valley heat in a black car with no AC. Thankfully my commute to and from work is only 15 minutes and I have become more experienced in figuring out how the rising sun will affect shadows over the course of a day. It's good photography practice. 

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Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

I'm continuing my newfound appreciation of cake with some cupcakes!

After making this Mint Chocolate Chip Checkered Cake a few weeks ago, it lead me to think about making a Neapolitan Checkered Cake which lead me to wonder how to make a strawberry flavored cake. Sometimes the paths that lead me to things of inspiration are very, very random. 

To celebrate strawberry season even more, I did some research and stumbled upon Sally's recipe which seemed to encompass all of the baking ideals I hold dear. This means no artificial flavored anything. All of the strawberry flavor comes purely from the fruit itself. The cake batter contains a strawberry puree and the frosting incorporates freeze dried strawberries. 

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