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. 

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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! 

APPLE RUM PEACH PIE WITH MAPLE OAT CRUNCH

  Almost two weeks have passed since I went traversing through an orchard in search of my favorite autumnal fruit.  It was the first of September, a very damp and dark one at that, but not at all in a depressing way.  It set the mood for the month, and since that day I have found myself wishing the last of summer away and yearning for fall to arrive with all its color and ecstasy.   

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  I rather loved the weather that day, I’m typing this now wishing I could go back as it is currently miserably hot and humid today.  It was quite cool that day and the fog was hanging low in the mountains; both the peaches and apples looked like candy dangling from a tree, but the apples looked especially pretty as they were bright red and glimmered with fresh droplets of rain.  I’m already excited about going back the end of this month or in early October when all the other varieties are ready.  

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  Walking under that canopy of peach trees reminded me somewhat of Alice in Wonderland as if in any given moment a white rabbit would emerge from somewhere, wearing a waistcoat and brandishing a pocket watch.  As silly as that sounds, that was the vibe I had while walking under these trees.  I really did have a smile on my face the entire time, I felt like a child who found a hideout somewhere amongst the brush.  I brought my baby sister with me (who is ten years old) and she had the same air to her.  She had so much fun picking the peaches all by herself.  I’m not sure how it would’ve felt if the sun was bright and shining.

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  Since I’ve probably talked enough about my orchard trip, I will now talk about these pies.  I’ve had this idea for mini pies, each donned with a different look, for quite some time but I didn’t have any mini pie tins.  Lucky for me I stumbled across a few just recently and was able to make them with the fruit I had just picked.  You don’t have to use mini pie tins as I did, though.  The dough amount is a perfect fit for an eight or nine-inch pie.  

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  I really love the combination of apples and peaches, though the sound of such a pie doesn’t flow as well as “apple and pear”, which was my first idea, then I switched fruits.  I see this combination as a last hoorah to summer, as peaches go out of season here around the first or second week of September and then the apples begin to arrive.  When the two are paired with rum it really is delicious!   

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RUM APPLE PEACH PIE WITH MAPLE OAT CRUNCH

pie crust

12 ounces all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 ounces unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

3-4 ounces water, ice cold

filling

3 peaches, cut into thin slices

3 apples, cut into thin slices

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons rum

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

dash of ground nutmeg

oat topping

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (or pecans)

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

other 

egg wash, (1 egg, 1 tablespoon water)

turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

METHOD:

for the pie:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Have on hand three, 4-inch pie tins or one, 8 or 9-inch pie tin.  
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, whisking till combined; add the cold butter and cut into the flour using a pastry blender or by pulsing in a food process till it clumps into pea-sized nuggets.  Push the flour to one side of the bowl and then add about two or three tablespoons of the cold water.  Gently toss the flour into the side with the water, using a fork, till it all comes together and forms a soft dough.  Add more water if needed.  Cut the dough equally in half and press each half into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes or till ready to use.
  3. Cut the apples and peaches into thin slices and place in a bowl, toss in the lemon juice, then add the rum.  Let the fruit soak in the rum for about 25 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and spices.  Drain the rum from the fruit, add the sugar mixture to the fruit and toss gently with your hands or a spatula.
  5.  In another bowl, combine the oats, finely chopped nuts, one-half teaspoon cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Stir till it all comes together and is crumbly(but not dry).

 Assemble the pie:  

  1. Remove one of the dough halves from the refrigerator and place on a floured surface.  Gently roll into a wide enough circle that will overhang your pie plate by about 3 inches.  Press the dough into the pan and add the fruit, then place the pie in the refrigerator as you roll out the other half of the dough the same as you did the bottom crust.  Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place over the top of the pie.  Crimp the edges together and brush the pie top with egg wash. Using a sharp knife, cut slits around the center of the pie.  Sprinkle on the oat topping and extra sugar and bake for 35-45 minutes.

Blackberry Nectarine Cake with Vanilla Sage German Buttercream

  It’s been well over two months since I last made a cake, even eaten a slice of one!  For most people that may be normal, but me?  I love baking cakes, so I usually make them on a monthly basis.  So, two months cake-free was a new record for me, hehe.  

  I like getting creative with fresh, seasonal fruits when it comes to baking.  It can get a little difficult at times, especially with layer cakes.  I really wanted to make a cake with nectarines and also use what little bit of wild blackberries I spent hours scavenging for(thanks, Japanese beetles!).  With this particular cake, I put a lot of brain effort into getting it to come out.  I was working with some pretty juicy fruit.  So, I sat down and did the math for what seemed like hours.  I weighed out every ingredient to the gram and then put the recipe to the test.  Many times the recipes I create take at least two to three(sometimes four)tries before getting my “blog-worthy” stamp, especially when it’s a cake.  My only fear when making this cake was that the nectarines would make the cakes sink in the center, even though I boiled most the juices out before adding the pulp to the batter and that it would make it really heavy.  I was wrong.  For the first time ever, my cake turned out just as I wanted and on the first try! The layers were light in weight and extremely moist(in a good way); the texture was tender and not too sweet. 

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  The blackberries gave it a different color than I expected, I only used a couple tablespoons of blackberry juice.  I was shooting for a purple hue, instead, I got a slight greenish tint(most likely from the baking soda and baking powder).  Some may think of that as fail and proceed to tweak the recipe more; honestly, I rather like the way it turned out.  It doesn’t look perfect and I am one of those people that like things that don’t look perfect.  It makes things more interesting!  

  For the buttercream, I wanted something more than your plain American buttercream.  I took a step forward and tried my hand at German buttercream.  I’m so glad I did as it went perfectly with this cake and tasted so good!  I used this recipe from BraveTart because it looked and sounded amazing(and it was amazing!).  It’s smooth and has the perfect amount of sweetness to it.  The vanilla and sage really complemented the nectarine flavor in the cake as well.

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Blackberry Nectarine Cake

INGREDIENTS
175g unsalted butter, room temp.
500g granulated sugar
4 large eggs (210g)
250g cake flour (2 cups + 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
312g whole milk, room temp. (1 1/4 cups)
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons nectarine pulp (use about 3 large ripe nectarines)
2 tablespoons blackberry juice (use about a 1/3 cup fresh blackberries)

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C.  Prepare three, 8-inch cake pans by greasing, lining with parchment, then lightly greasing again.
For the nectarine pulp: Peel and pit the nectarines.  Cut into quarters and add to a food processor/blender and pulse 4-5 times till the fruit is loose and clumpy.  Pour into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, cooking for 8 minutes and stirring often(it burns easily).  Once done, pour into a wire sieve over a bowl(to catch the juices) and use a spoon to press all the juices out.  Spread the pulp out onto a clean plate and let it come to room temperature.  For the blackberry juice:  Mash a 1/3 cup of fresh blackberries with a fork and add to a small saucepan over low heat, cook, stirring gently till most the juices come out(about 4 minutes).  Pour into a sieve and press the juices out. Discard the pulp.  Add the blackberry juice to the milk and bring to room temperature before using.

For the cake:  In an electric mixer with whisks attached, add the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy (about 8 minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time(and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition).  If you’re using measuring cups, use a large spoon to fill the measuring cup with flour, then use a knife to level it off.  So, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add a third of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture, then a third of the milk, beat on medium speed till just combined. Repeat this process till the other 2/3 of the milk and flour are combined.  Using a spatula, fold in the nectarine pulp till it is distributed evenly throughout the batter.  Pour evenly amongst the three pans.  Bake for 30 minutes, then check for doneness with a toothpick.   If the toothpick comes out clean, it’s done; if it’s wet, bake for 2 more minutes.
Once done, let the cakes sit in their pans for 10 minutes.  Using a sharp knife, gently loosen the cake from the sides of the pan and invert onto wire racks to cool completely(about two hours).

Vanilla Sage German Buttercream

INGREDIENTS 
Recipe slightly adapted from BraveTart

16 ounces whole milk
2 vanilla bean pods, split and scraped, seeds set aside in a small bowl
2 medium-sized sage leaves, fresh
10 ounces sugar
1.5 ounces cornstarch
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
16 ounces unsalted butter, room temp.
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

METHOD

  Slit the two vanilla bean pods and scrape out the seeds, place them(the seeds) in a bowl to use later.  In a medium sized saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean pods, and sage leaves.  Once the milk starts to simmer, remove from heat and let the mixture steep for about 30 minutes(or more for a more intense flavor).  Once steeped, remove vanilla bean pods and the sage leaves.  Return the milk to a simmer over medium-low heat.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, scraped vanilla bean seeds, cornstarch, whole eggs, and egg yolks.  Stream a 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly till it is fully incorporated and the mixture is warm.  Now, pour the egg mixture into the saucepan of hot milk, stirring constantly while doing so, and turn the heat to medium.  Keep stirring the mixture till it begins to thicken and bubble very slowly.  Once it begins to bubble, continue stirring for 1 minute(use a timer). Once the timer goes off, immediately pour the custard into a large bowl.  Press a layer of plastic wrap over the custard(so it won’t form a skin)and place in the refrigerator to cool completely(at least 1 hour).
 Once the custard has cooled, remove from the fridge. Beat the butter and salt on medium speed with an electric mixer till smooth and creamy.  Begin spooning large portions of the custard into the butter while beating on medium-high speed. Beat till the mixture is smooth and is completely incorporated.

Assemble the cake:
  Place the first layer on your cake stand, cake board, or plate. Add about 1 cup of the frosting and evenly spread around. Add the second layer, bottom(flat side)facing up, and add another 1 cup of frosting; spread evenly.  Now, place the third layer evenly on top of the second, again, bottom side facing up.  Add remaining frosting.  Decorate with fresh flowers and greenery(optional).  Cut and serve.

Braided Apricot-Peach Jam Danish with Cream Cheese

  One of my (many) favorite things about June is all the delicious, colorful fruits and berries she produces.  I plan on using a lot of them in the coming weeks!  This week it’s peach and apricot jam wrapped up in a pretty, braided danish, then drizzled with not-so-sweet cream cheese glaze.

  Like many other delicious things, this recipe takes up a lot of your time.  It’s best to do it all the night before, so when morning comes you can just assemble it all and have it ready to eat for brunch(or lunch if you’re anything like me).  The jam you can make the day of if you’re up to it.   I prefer to do it a day before so it can sit and collect all it’s flavors.  

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Speaking of jams, I absolutely love how this jam I concocted turned out for me!  Every time I make strawberry jam or anything else, it never turns out.  It’s usually more like a strawberry sauce with chunks in it.. yeah.  This peach-apricot jam, though.. it’s SO good.  Like, eat it off the spoon by itself, kinda good.  I put more lemon juice than a small amount of jam like this would usually use, but it gave it some tang(and I love tang)!

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  Now about this danish.  It’s equally amazing as the jam is.  The crust is flaky and the insides oh so buttery!  Not to mention it’s rather pretty to look at, I almost didn’t want to cut it up.  It’s only been a couple three hours since I pulled it out of the oven and there’s practically nothing left.  Needless to say, it was a big hit with the siblings. 

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Braided Apricot-Peach Jam Danish with Cream Cheese
Yields 15
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Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
28 min
Prep Time
2 hr
Cook Time
28 min
DOUGH
  1. 3 1/2 - 4 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 1/4 tablespoons instant yeast
  3. 1/3 cup sugar
  4. 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  5. 2 tablespoons water, lukewarm
  6. 1 cup milk, lukewarm
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. 2 eggs
  9. 1 cup unsalted butter, cold
JAM
  1. 4 medium sized peaches, ripe
  2. 4 apricots, ripe
  3. 1 1/2 cups sugar
  4. 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
CREAM CHEESE GLAZE
  1. 8 ounces cream cheese
  2. 1 cup confectioners sugar
  3. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  4. milk, for thinness
METHOD
DOUGH
  1. In an electric standing mixer with dough hook attached, add 3 cups of flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt. Mix on low till combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, heat the milk and 2 tablespoons of water till lukewarm. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir with a fork till eggs are slightly beaten.
  3. Add liquids to the flour. Mix on medium speed till the dough comes together. If the dough is still very liquid-y after adding the liquids, add the 1/2 cup flour. Add more flour in 1/4 cup increments, if necessary, till the dough comes together. It should be elastic, soft, and somewhat sticky when touched.
  4. Remove dough from mixer and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape into a rectangle using your fingers and let it rest there for 15 minutes.
  5. While waiting for the dough to rest, take the two sticks of butter and with a knife, slit them down the center(long ways) till you have a total of 4 strips of butter. Place them side-by-side on a large piece of parchment paper and then sprinkle with some flour. Cover them with another piece of parchment then gently beat the butter with a rolling pin till flat and about 4" wide and 8" long. Place them in the fridge till ready to use.
  6. Once the dough is done resting, roll it into a large rectangle till it's (roughly) 12" wide and 20" long. It's OK if it's not a perfect rectangle. Dust with flour.
  7. Take 2 of the butter strips and place them next to each other in the center of the rectangle. Fold one side of the dough till it is on top of the butter; then place the other 2 strips of butter on top of the first fold and fold the other half of the dough over the butter. Pinch the ends shut. You should have a rectangular looking pack. Now, gently roll the packet of dough into a 12" x 20" inch rectangle, again. Fold in both ends so they meet in the center, then fold over one last time(like you're closing a book). Lightly rub the dough with some flour, then wrap loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  8. DAY 2: Lightly flour a large piece of parchment paper and turn the dough out(keep the dough on this paper for easy transport to and from the pan). Roll dough into a large rectangle that is 15" long and 8" wide. Try to make it as close to the rectangle shape as possible. Using a pizza cutter, cut the four corners off the rectangle and cut 1-inch wide strips down both sides of the rectangle(you should have a total of 15 strips each side); the strips should be 2 inches long. There should be 4 inches left between both sides of the slits for the jam to go onto. Spread all but 1/8 cup of the jam onto the center.
  9. TO BRAID: Take the strip on your top left and fold it till it's on top the jam, then take the strip on the right and lay it on the other strip. Repeat this process; alternating from one side to the other all the way down to the bottom. Pinch the ends together. Carefully lift the parchment, with the braid on top, onto a large, rimmed baking sheet. Cover with a thin towel and let it rise 30 minutes to an hour till slightly puffy.
  10. In the meantime, preheat oven to 375°F. Once the dough is somewhat puffy, brush with egg wash(1 egg beaten). Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Once done, remove from oven and brush with left-over jam. Drizzle with cream cheese glaze and let it cool before eating.
JAM
  1. Remove peel and pits from fruit and dice into small chunks. Put fruit into a medium sized pot and add the lemon juice, then stir. Add the sugar and bring it all to a simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn. Do this till the mixture has thickened(about 20-25 minutes). To be sure it is thick enough, take a cold knife and dip it in the jam if it drips off very slowly( or sticks ), it's done. Pour jam into a clean 32-ounce glass jar and cover with a lid. Place in fridge overnight.
CREAM CHEESE GLAZE
  1. Using a hand mixer(or a standing mixer)with beaters attached, cream the cream cheese till smooth. Add the sugar, vanilla, and 1/4 cup milk. The glaze should be thin enough to drizzle over the danish. If it's not thin enough after adding the 1/4 cup milk, keep adding more milk 1 tablespoon at a time till it reaches the right consistency.
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