Monday, August 24, 2009

A Cake and a Confession (and also, some great news!)

Okay, okay, great news first: I got a job! A real, paying job in a real, live restaurant! As soon as I pass the necessary background screenings (note: drug testing – not as awkward as predicted), I will be working as a breakfast and lunch hostess at a hotel restaurant downtown. It’s right on the river, is run by a former Atlantan, and, hopefully, I’ll get to train as a server if things go well. I’m pumped! Take that second-highest-unemployment-rate-after-Detroit!

Anyway, on to the cake, by way of a confession: I have a bookmarking problem. I read a lot of food blogs, so I look at tons of photos and recipes every day. Most recipes, as long as they seem at least somewhat decent or beautiful in some way, get a big fat apple-D (oh, bookmark command, why did I ever memorize you?). On a good day, I’ll only bookmark a couple. On a bad day, it can reach 20 or 30. If you were to pull up my bookmarks menu, you would at first be confronted with a long list of to-be-sorted, poorly named links waiting for a day when I have a patient, boring, minute. If you were so lucky to reach the folders, you would see a highly organized folder-within-folder catalogue of hundreds upon hundreds of ideas.

Most of these ideas stay just that – ideas, fantasies, intangible wisps of information. They sit, gathering digital dust in my 21st century file book. Sometimes, I go through and delete a couple of stale ones, those that have gone so out of season or out of fashion that I would probably never touch them. On more ambitious days, I’ll actually click on the link, revisit the recipe, and prepare some version of it.

Saturday was one such day. A few of my friends just moved into a new house and were throwing a house warming party, asking guests to bring along some sort of edible or drinkable donation.

I made cake. Specifically, the yogurt cake that found Orangette’s Brandon. Bookmarked ages ago, it has always sat in the back of my dessert brain as an object of future experimentation. The cake is a snap to whip together, and the recipe is easy to manipulate. I added peaches, cornmeal, and a bit of olive oil to the original recipe, and left out the lemon zest and glaze, giving the cake a complex savory note to counter the sweetness of my overripe peaches.

Sophisticated enough to stand out in a crowd of homemade desserts, but rustic enough for a barbeque, this cake was a definite success. And, as I had found out about my job (!) only a few minutes before digging into my first piece, the cake was eaten in celebration as well.

Celebratory Peach Yogurt Cake
(adapted from Orangette)

½ cup plain yogurt
½ cup cane sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup medium-ground cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup olive oil
1-2 cups peeled, diced peaches

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a nine-inch round cake pan. I used a springform pan here out of necessity (temporary house = temporary lack of baking supplies), which was too tall, but did help with the removal of the cake when it was done.

In a big mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, sugars, and eggs with a whisk (this makes it easier to combine the yogurt (I don’t pre-stir) with the other ingredients) until well combined. Add the flour, cornmeal, and baking powder, and mix (now you can switch to a spoon) until just combined. Add the oils and stir. Molly warns (and rightly so) that the batter will take quite a bit of stirring until the oil combines. But be patient, it will work.

Pour half the batter into the cake pan. Pour on the peaches, and try to distribute them as evenly as possible. Top with the rest of the batter and smooth with a spatula. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until the edges are golden (the top will still be a bit pale) and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cake on a rack for about 20 minutes in the pan, and then turn out of the pan until cooled completely.

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