Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly

 Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly

It was about to rain and the temperature quite hot that day, but I came home with eight pounds of scrumptious peaches. Peaches are one of my favorite aspects of early summer; they’re one of those fruits I could eat morning, noon, to dusk and never grow tired. And they’re absolutely delicious and juicy when you find them local.Per my usual, I set aside one day out of the week and drove eighty minutes to one of my favorite orchards, just twenty miles west of the quaint city that is Charlottesville, Virginia. The orchard is nestled amongst rolling mountains and the drive there and back is always so peaceful.

Per my usual, I set aside one day out of the week and drove eighty minutes to one of my favorite orchards- just twenty miles west of the quaint city that is Charlottesville, Virginia. The orchard is nestled amongst rolling mountains, making the drive there a scenic and enjoyable one, which is why I love it so.

Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly

This recipe makes the first time I have baked an olive oil cake or eaten one for that matter. It took me quite a few times to get it to my liking. At least my chickens were happy with the first few tries. Olive oil cake is on the lighter side when it comes to sweetness, but it’s nevertheless moist, rich, and airy in texture due to the olive oil. The oil flavor is noticeable, but not in an overpowering way. To make it even more delicious, I added freshly cut peaches which are speckled about in each slice of cake. It’s usually eaten with an addition of fresh fruit, powdered sugar, or with some sort of glaze; I thought it best with a pillowy layer of crème Chantilly (whipped cream), sweetened and flavored with honey and a bit of vanilla. 

Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly


Olive Oil Peach Cake with Vanilla Honey Crème Chantilly

  ingredients:

240 grams unbleached all-purpose flour, { 2 cups } 

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

150 grams raw cane sugar, { 3/4 cups }

3 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cups good quality olive oil { extra-virgin }

3/4 cups milk, room temperature

3 large ripe peaches

1/4 cup raw cane sugar

   crème chantilly:

1 cup cold heavy cream

2 tablespoons good quality honey

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

   method:

  1. Chop the three ripe peaches into small cubes and place them in a medium-sized saucepan with the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, gently stirring often. Once boiling, decrease the heat to low and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the peaches are soft, but not mushy(make sure to stir every few seconds or so so it doesn’t burn) and there seems to be a lot of liquid. Remove from heat and pour the peaches over a sieve to drain the sugary juice*. Cool the peaches before adding to the cake batter. You can cool them quickly by placing them in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350ºF / 177ºC. Grease and line with parchment paper one, 8-inch cake pan (or two 6-inch pans) and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar with an electric hand mixer until pale, fluffy, and thick (3-4 minutes on high speed). Add the oil and beat on low until just combined. Add the flour and milk and stir gently with a wooden spoon or spatula for three turns, then add half of the peaches and stir (gently) until all the ingredients are combined, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl for flour. Do not over-mix.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and sprinkle in the remaining peaches. Bake for 40 minutes, but check for doneness at 35 minutes. It’s done when lightly golden in color and a toothpick comes out clean after being inserted into the center. Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then gently invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
  5. Place a medium sized bowl and a whisk in the freezer for 3 minutes to chill. Add the cream, honey, and vanilla and whisk by hand until stiff peaks form. This may take up to five minutes. You can also use an electric mixer if you’d like. 
  6. Place the cooled cake on a plate and dollop on the whipped cream. Top with fresh fruit and more honey if you’d like. Store -covered- in the refrigerator for up to three days.

*You can re-use this sugary peach juice in iced tea for a sweet, peachy flavor; or, you could stir it into plain, unsweetened yogurt. Even better, you could pour it all over this cake! 

Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Honey Fig Italian Meringue Buttercream

  Why yes, this is another chocolate cake to add to my {growing} collection.  One can never have too many chocolate cake recipes, can they?  This one is special as it includes shredded garden fresh zucchini, which gives the cake a tender and moist crumb.  Also, a pinch of cinnamon because zucchini, chocolate, and cinnamon seem like close-knit friends, they go so well together! 

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 I tried my hand at Italian meringue buttercream for the first time and I must say, it’s so good!  While researching, I came across various people saying it can be somewhat difficult to make if you’re not familiar with making meringue.   Being myself, I took on the challenge.  It was the first time I’ve ever made meringue, and using my own quantities at that.  The first try was okay, but not quite what I wanted as it was a bit too sweet.  So I tried one more time by changing the quantities of a few ingredients.  The second try was a charm!  Then came adding the butter, a step I didn’t get to on the first try.  At first, I thought it wasn’t looking too promising.  After letting it whip for a little while longer, it suddenly turned into a luxurious buttercream.  Smooth and glossy, with the most amazing texture.  I then added the honey fig jam I had just made, along with a wee bit of vanilla.  The camera didn’t really pick it up, but it has a slight pink tint to it.

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 I spent at least two hours photographing this cake.  The light was just not on my side!  My home has an insane amount of windows, so I usually have a pretty good amount of light anywhere in the house.  It’s also surrounded by greenery, so finding the right type of light can be difficult.  It usually depends on how bright the sun is shining during the time of day I’m shooting.  I was shooting in mid-afternoon light and the sun was giving out harsh, bright light, causing everything outside to reflect their colors through the windows.  So, almost all the light coming into the house was green, and green is my biggest pet peeve when photographing food.  Long story short, I was in Lightroom for quite some time trying to tone down all the colors coming in from outside.  I’m quite pleased with how they turned out, despite spending so much time photographing and then editing them.

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chocolate zucchini cake + honey fig italian meringue buttercream

for the cake:

175 grams unsalted butter, room temp.

500 g granulated sugar 

4 large eggs, room temp.

250 g all-purpose flour ( 2 cups + 2 tablespoons )

100 g cocoa powder ( 1 1/4 cups )

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

312 g almond milk, room temp. ( 1 3/4 cups)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

1 cup shredded zucchini

 for the honey fig jam:

1 pound ripe figs

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

for the  frosting:

5 egg whites, room temp.

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup water

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

 fig jam, room temp.

lemon wedge


method:
cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 170°C.  Prepare three, 8-inch cake pans by greasing, laying down parchment paper, then lightly greasing again.
  2.  Sift the flour and cocoa powder; combine the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Whisk well and set aside.
  3. In an electric standing mixer / hand mixer with whisk(s) attached, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy- about eight minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom on the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition(scraping down the bowl after adding each one).  Add the vanilla and beat till just combined.  Add one-third of the flour and one-third of the almond milk; beat on medium speed until just combined.  Add the remaining two-thirds of flour and almond milk and beat on high for 15 seconds.  With a spatula, fold in the shredded zucchini until it’s evenly distributed.
  4. Pour batter evenly amongst the three prepared cake pans and using an offset spatula, evenly spread around in the pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Check for doneness using a toothpick, if it comes out clean- it’s done; if not, bake three more minutes.  Remove from oven and let the cakes sit in the pan for 10 minutes.  Use a sharp knife to loosen the edges, then invert onto wire cooling racks to cool completely.
honey fig jam:
  1. Wash, cut stems off, and then slice figs into halves.  Add to a medium sized saucepan and gently mash them until they are well broken up.
  2. Add the sugar, lemon juice, and honey to the figs and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved and then let the mixture simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until the figs are soft and the mixture is somewhat thick when it runs off the spoon.  About 15-20 minutes.  Pour the mixture into a sieve over a cool bowl and gently press with a spoon to squeeze the good stuff off from the pulp.  Discard the pulp.  Bring the jam to complete room temperature before using it the frosting.  It’s best to make it the day before, then cover with plastic wrap and let it sit on the countertop overnight.
honey fig italian meringue buttercream:
  1. Wipe down the bowl of an electric mixer with the lemon wedge and squeeze about 1/4 teaspoon of it into the bottom of the bowl.  Add the egg whites.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water.  Stir over high heat until the sugar is dissolved and begins to boil.  Once boiling, cease stirring and attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan.  Bring the sugar to 240°F, once it reaches that temperature, turn off the heat.  Begin beating the egg whites on medium-high speed until they’re frothy and pale in color.  Then, very slowly and carefully ( it’s hot!) begin to pour a very thin stream of the hot sugar into the beating whites.  Increase the speed to high and continue beating until medium peaks form.  Before adding any butter, make sure the meringue is completely cool to the touch, without a hint of warmth to it.   
  3.  Add the butter and beat on medium-high speed till it all comes together and forms a nice, whipped buttercream.  Turn the mixer off and add the vanilla and the fig jam.  Beat on low until just combined.   
assemble and frost the cake:
  1. Place the first layer on your cake stand, plate, or cake board.  Add about 3/4 cups of frosting and evenly spread around.  Place the second layer, bottom facing up, on top of the frosted layer and add another 3/4 cups of frosting.  Spread around and add the third and final layer, bottom facing up.  Use the remaining frosting to frost the top and around the sides of the cake.  Cut and serve.

Blueberry Banana Nut Muffins with Honey Sugar

  This week definitely calls for muffins.  It has been quite crazy here with all the snow.  We got two-TWO- feet of snow here in Virginia!  It’s not normal here, so everyone was going a bit crazy.  It’s happily melting now and everything is looking pretty messy.  I’ve probably bent and bruised every bone in my body from shoveling or falling on the slippery ice with the kids.  It was fun the first two days, but it can totally switch to spring now!

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  Anyway.  These muffins.  I cannot get enough of them!  I made two batches this week so far.  The honey and sugar go exceptionally well with the blueberry and banana.  Small blueberries are the best for these muffins as I found they taste better. So, if you can find them, good!  I had some fresh blueberries from our bush sitting in the freezer from last summer.

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muffin-(10-of-14)

Blueberry Banana Nut Muffins with Honey Sugar
Yields 12
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 3/4 cups sugar
  3. 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 3/4 cups milk, room temperature
  6. 1/4 cup butter, melted
  7. 1 large egg slightly beaten, room temperature
  8. 3/4 cups mashed banana ( 2 very ripe bananas )
  9. 1 cup small blueberries, fresh or frozen
  10. 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  11. 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  12. 1 tablespoon honey
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin or, skip the greasing and use paper muffin cups instead.
  2. In a small bowl, add the 1/2 cup turbinado sugar and 1 tablespoon honey and stir with a fork till crumbly. Set aside.
  3. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Add the milk, slightly beaten egg, and mashed banana; whisk till combined and set aside.
  4. In another bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and whisk till combined. Add the liquids and stir once, then carefully fold in/stir the blueberries and walnuts till all the ingredients are just combined, you don't want to over-stir it! About 20-23 strokes will do it, it should be lumpy.
  5. Spoon the batter equally amongst the muffin cups/greased tin and sprinkle the honey sugar on the tops. Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes till golden on the tops. Remove from pan and place on a cooling rack to cool. Add more honey sugar if desired.
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