Peach Upside-Down Cake

This cake is a perfect summer dessert! I haven’t turned on my oven very much, but the weather is finally cooling off a bit, so I can turn on my oven and not feel as guilty (or as warm!)

Paul made us dinner last night, and we invited some dear friends over. When we went to Jamaica, we tried authentic Jamaican Jerk Chicken and fell in love. It’s delicious! Spicy, slightly charred, moist, jerk chicken is totally worth it. Well, being the chef he is, Paul found some Jerk spice to bring home and try to replicate that authentic Jamaican flavour. Well, friends, let me tell you, he succeeded!

It was Paul’s first time using the spices, so it was a bit of an experiment, but apparently there is a method to making great jerk chicken. We actually asked around when in Jamaica about how to make our own jerk chicken at home, and they gave us an answer. Paul marinated the chicken for about 24 hours (the first step to great chicken!), then he started it in the oven in a jerk liquid (not part of the original cooking method, but he wanted to make sure the chicken was moist), then finished the chicken on the BBQ. The Jamaican natives said to cook the chicken over a wood-fired barbecue, but as we have an absence of mango wood in Canada (the preferred wood to make jerk chicken), he just went with the barbecue.

Like I said, it worked! Those flavours really brought me back to Jamaica, and it was incredible. He whipped up some Cajun-spiced rice, and some veggies, and oh boy did we ever have our own little feast. Now, in my mind, a “feast” or dinner party of any kind is not complete without dessert. I had went to the Farmer’s Market and found some delicious fresh peaches and wanted to use some in a dessert.

I took to Pinterest (like I said, addicted!) and found this recipe for a Peach Upside-Down Cake. It was super simple to whip up, and didn’t take very long at all. It requires pantry staples, so the only thing you might have to go out of your way to get are peaches, and this cake works well with fresh or frozen peaches. That means if you don’t have access to fresh B.C. grown peaches like I do, you can still make this delicious concoction with the frozen variety and it works just as well.

Okay, okay. I’ve been blathering on for long enough. We want cake!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-9 inch cake (depending on pan used)

¼ c. butter
½ c. brown sugar
1½ – 2 c. fresh or frozen peaches, sliced thinly (for fresh peaches, pit and peel the peaches before slicing)
1¼ c. flour
1¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. butter, softened
¾ c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
½ c. milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In an 8 x 8 square baking pan or a round 9 inch cake pan (I used the round cake pan), place the first measurement of butter. Place pan in oven and let butter melt, watching carefully so it doesn’t brown.

Once butter is melted, add in the brown sugar and mix with a spatula until all brown sugar is moistened and evenly spread across the bottom of the pan. Place peach slices in the brown sugar mixture, placing evenly. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk to combine.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the second measurement of butter and the sugar. Beat to combine until smooth. Add in the egg and vanilla, and beat again.

Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the butter mixture, beating after each addition until just combined. Spread batter evenly over peaches in the prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on wire rack in pan for about 5 minutes, then invert onto serving tray. Cool for 10-15 minutes more. Serve warm.

Bread Machine White Bread

When you want fresh bread, but you don’t want to turn on the oven, a breadmaker is the perfect solution. It only heats up around the bread, so the heat doesn’t seep into your kitchen. Perfect! I was able to make this bread in 30+ weather and my house kept as cool as it can.

After the bread was finished, we made awesome BLT’s with the homemade bread. When bread takes you five minutes to prepare (and in prepare, I mean dump everything into the breadmaker), what’s not to love! You even end up with fresh bread, which is amazing, and that fresh bread smell, which is phenomenal!

I found the original recipe here, and the first time I made this bread it rose so much it hit the top of the breadmaker. The second time I made it, I completely forgot to blog about it! In the comments of the original recipe, someone cut the recipe to make a perfectly sized 1.5 lb loaf. These are the measurements that I’ve listed below.

Ingredients

Yield: 1- 1.5 lb loaf

1 c. water
1½ tsp. salt
¼ c. olive oil
3 c. flour
2¼ tsp. yeast
2 tbsp. sugar

Combine ingredients in the order specified by your breadmaker. Set to 1.5 lb loaf, and doneness level for crust, and turn breadmaker to white bread setting.

My breadmaker is a Black & Decker, and it says to put wet ingredients in first, and flour and yeast after. I put in the water, salt and olive oil first. After, I added the flour, put the sugar in a corner, and made a small well for the yeast, then turned it on.

Let the bread mix, and bake, then enjoy!

No-Bake Chocolate Oat Bars

This summer has been a hot one! I haven’t wanted to turn on the oven at all (can you blame me?) because we don’t have air conditioning. Every time I turn on the oven, the whole house heats up and becomes some sort of hellish heat-sink.

These are a great alternative to a baked dessert. They don’t take a lot of time to whip up, and they are delicious, and simple. Mine didn’t turn out exactly like the original post, because I overestimated the amount of oatmeal, and put a bit too much on the bottom, so there was a thin layer of oatmeal on the top.

I’m not going to waste your time in this heat wave! Go make these, because they are easy, quick, and taste amazing!

Ingredients

Yield: 12-16 bars (depending on cut size)

1 c. butter
½ c. brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. rolled oats
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips
¾ c. chunky peanut butter

Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Heat over low heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves.

Add the oats, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Take off the heat.

Pour half of the oat mixture into the pan, spread out evenly, and press down.

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Microwave on 20 second increments, stirring constantly, until smooth and combined. Pour 4/5 of the chocolate mixture over the oatmeal.

Top with the remaining oats, then drizzle the remaining chocolate over the top of the oats. Refrigerate for 4 hours, or until set, then slice, and serve.

Rhubarb Scones

It’s summertime! That means I have lots of free time on my hands, and my parents have a garden full to bursting with fresh produce, veggies, and fruits. One of the many fruits of their labour (sorry, I couldn’t resist! Ha!) is rhubarb.

My dad recently came down to visit, and brought with him a TON of rhubarb. I mean a ton. I cut it all up, and separated it, there was probably around seven cups of fresh cut rhubarb! I was so excited! Cue searching rhubarb recipes on Pintrest.

I came across a few recipes for rhubarb scones, but every recipe I found included heavy cream. Now, heavy cream is not a staple in my refrigerator. Why? Because I just don’t use it enough! I use it for baking, and that’s about it. If I’m too busy to use it, it goes bad, and there goes money down the drain. Boo! So I decided to compromise.

I searched for a simple, plain scone recipe (because I love breakfast baked goods, I just forget to make them for breakfast), and found this one that seemed absolutely perfect. It used everything I had in my pantry and refrigerator (no heavy cream, just milk. Score!), and was a plain recipe that I figured I could easily jazz up with rhubarb.

The only changes I made to the recipe, and I’ll add them below in addition to the link of the original recipe above, was to add about 2 cups of chopped frozen rhubarb to the scones, then sprinkle the tops with a simple cinnamon sugar mixture.

It’s been crazy hot here in Southern Alberta lately, so you may not see too many baked goods around these parts this summer. I reserve baking for when the weather cools off a bit, and the afternoon I made these, Lethbridge decided to grace us with a bit of a thunderstorm. It’s okay though, I’ve got some great no-bake recipes planned, including a chocolatey treat up next!

As for these rhubarb scones, just make them, and enjoy the delicious tartness of fresh rhubarb! These taste great on their own, a little tart, a little sweet, a lot of flavour. But, these babies are just as good with strawberry jam, or butter and cinnamon sugar to top with as well! Enjoy!

Ingredients

Yield: 8 scones

2½ c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ c. butter, cold, and cut into pieces
1/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. milk
2 c. rhubarb, chopped
Cinnamon sugar, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add in the butter chunks, and with a pastry blender, combine until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Add sugar, and stir to combine. Add in the rhubarb and the milk, and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. It may be crumbly. Use your hands if you need to knead the dough until it becomes cohesive.

Pat dough or roll into a circle about 1½ inches thick. With a knife, cut the dough into 8 pieces. Transfer the wedges onto the prepared baking tray, letting the edges touch for softer scones, or separate for crisper scones.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a light golden brown on top.

Pavlova with Lemon Curd

When I think of pavlova, I think of my dear friend Rita. She was the first person who introduced me to the deliciousness of pavlova, and did so in such a beautiful way that it will always be cemented in my memory. A strawberry-kiwi pavlova with whipped cream. Amazing.

With the end of the school year comes goodbyes. These goodbyes are always hard, and one of these hard goodbyes was to my fellow staff at my school. Teaching contracts can be finicky things if you don’t have a permanent or continuing contract, which I didn’t this year. Hence, we had to say goodbye.

For our year-end staff get-together, we decided to have a potluck. Considering my luck with cheesecake (you might remember my Salted Caramel Pecan Cheesecake), both myself and my fellow staff members were all for me making dessert, and I wanted it to be something special. Paul was the genius that suggested pavlova, and I had everything in the fridge to make it, including cream to make whipped cream to top it. The only thing I didn’t have was the fruit.

I bought strawberries and peaches, and made simple fruit toppings to go with the pavlova, the lemon curd, and the whipped cream. The original recipe I found here. I have found that pavlova is not particularly difficult to make, but is time-consuming. Still, the results were worth it. I will let you know, pavlovas are traditionally Australian, and are meant to be crisp on the outside, and slightly gooey and marshmallow-esque on the inside. These ended up practically perfect.

I made a few changes to the recipe, none very special or important. Instead of making one large pavlova, I made a dozen small, individual-sized servings. This made it much easier to serve. Either way, I was very pleased with the results, so were my staff members, and so was Paul. It was a win-win-win situation. This is the perfect summer dessert; light, airy, fruity, sweet, tart. It’s got a bit of everything you need.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 large pavlova, or 12 small servings

For the pavlova:

6 egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. white vinegar

For the lemon curd:

Zest of one lemon
1 ¼ c. sugar
½ c. butter, softened and at room temperature
4 eggs
½ c. lemon juice
Pinch of salt

For the fruit topping:

¼ c. sugar
1/8 c. water
2-3 c. frozen fruit (I used strawberries and peaches)
2 tsp. cornstarch, mixed with 2 tsp. cold water

For the whipped cream:

1 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

To make the pavlova, preheat the oven to 395°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. If making one pavlova, trace a cheesecake ring on the parchment paper and flip so the traced circle is next to the baking tray. If making 12 portions, line two trays with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high until soft peaks form. Add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, not stopping the mixer until mixture is thick and glossy, and the sugar is completely incorporated. Add the cornstarch with the last tablespoon of sugar. Whip until sugar is completely dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, use a spatula to fold in the vanilla and vinegar.

Spoon the meringue into the ring on the prepared pan, or the twelve portions on the two pans. Make the centers slightly depressed and the edges slightly higher, so the meringue forms a shallow bowl shape.

Place the meringue into the oven, and IMMEDIATELY lower the oven to 210°F. Bake for 1½ – 2 hours, until the outside of the meringue feels dry and crisp. Turn off the oven, and leave the pavlova in the oven to cool completely.

For the lemon curd, in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water (or a double boiler), combine all curd ingredients, and whisk until combined. Whisking constantly, the mixture will thicken over the course of 15-20 minutes. When the mixture coats the back of a spoon, and does not run easily off, it is done.

Transfer to a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap until cool.

To make the fruit topping, combine all ingredients in a small saucepan until thickened and smooth. Fruit will cook down until tender and soft. Transfer to a bowl and cool.

To make the whipped cream, combine all ingredients in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, and whip until thick and smooth.

To assemble, slice pavlova, or take a pavlova round and place on the serving dish. Top with lemon curd, the fruit topping, and whipped cream, and enjoy!