Maybe you don’t have small children running underfoot and you had the time and energy to capture our summer (and spring!) by putting up some sweet and/or savory preserves. What with all our strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries, and peaches and melons, figs, and dates—and now apples and pears, you can stock your pantry with jars of the joys of seasons past. Or you can just purchase your jams and jellies. That’s what I do these days. Hairston Creek Farm reliably offers a consistent inventory of seasonally canned condiments. Vendors at both farmers markets make preserves, so you can enjoy numerous jarred options. When I retire from parenting (does that happen?), I’ll be puttin’ up my own.
Whether you cooked it up yourself or purchased it, a jar of spreadable sweetness in the cupboard can help deliver dessert in a jiffy.
QUICK COFFEE CAKE makes one 9″ round cake
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) organic butter, softened. Sprouts (on Brodie in Sunset Valley) is selling Organic Valley for $4.99 a pound right now.
- 116 grams (about 1 cup) organic white whole wheat flour. I use King Arthur brand. Whole Foods usually has the best flour prices.
- 35 grams (about 1/4 cup ) organic cornmeal. Fine ground white cornmeal lends a delicate taste.
- 50 grams (about 1/2 cup minus 2 teaspoons) organic all-purpose flour. I like the price on WF 365 brand 5# bag.
- 200 grams (1 cup) organic sugar. Central Market’s organic brand sells for $2.99 for a 2# bag.
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 160 grams (2/3 cup) homemade 1/2-n-1/2 yogurt or light sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or homemade vanilla brandy
- 2 eggs, preferably local
- 1/2 cup local preserves. Peach is especially tasty here.
- 1/2 cup chopped lightly toasted Texas pecans. For the cake pictured, I threw on a few toasted sliced almonds, too.
Preheat oven to 350º. Grease and flour a 9″ X 3″ round pan. I prefer a loose-bottomed pan for this cake. Lining the bottom with a round of waxed paper is a good idea here.
Combine dry ingredients, through salt, in a bowl with a whisk. Stir about 3 Tablespoons (don’t bother to measure) yogurt or sour cream and extract into the eggs. Combine flour mixture, butter, and remaining yogurt in a mixer bowl and beat on medium speed for 90 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add egg mixture to batter in three parts, beating for 20 seconds after each addition and scraping the bowl in between.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Spread the preserves evenly over the batter. It’s OK if your marmalade marbles into the batter a bit. Top with the pecans. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cake tests done. Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes before loosening the sides and unmolding (or carefully inverting onto a plate or rack and then re-righting the cake). Let cool as long as you can stand it. Dig in!
I recently baked this cake, sans topping (it will cook quicker,btw) and filled and frosted it. I split the cooled cake into two slim layers and filled it with a jar (6 ounces) of fragrant French violet and lavender jelly that I had purchased in a previous lifetime. Then I covered the cake with a thin coating of leftover vanilla buttercream I had stashed in the freezer (where it keeps quite well, wrapped up in plastic wrap and plopped into an airtight container). You could use almost any sweet preserves you have on hand, and top your torte with a simple confectioner’s sugar glaze (powdered sugar mixed with lemon juice, milk, cream or water plus vanilla to taste). A lovely dessert.