From Susan: Ever since coming home from the food and drink fest that was our month in Maine, I have been trying to eat “on the lighter side,” drinking lots of water and restricting my snacking to raw vegetables, fruit and the occasional Triscuit. But sometimes, my late-afternoon peckish-ness can only be assuaged by tea (hot or iced) and a bit of something sweet. No boxed cookies or store-bought cake in this household, however … when I want a sweet baked good – I make it. And you should too – it’s really not hard – and you can control what goes in (i.e. no high-fructose corn syrup or other unsavory ingredients that aren’t found on home pantry shelves …)
For inspiration, I turned to two of my favorite recipe sources; you could say these two fine publications are on the complete opposite ends of the publishing spectrum. Food & Wine, as you no doubt know, is the monthly glossy magazine featuring all sorts of great writing and beautiful photography on, well, all things food and wine. Cook & Tell, which you should know, is the almost-monthly newsletter (no January or July) written, drawn and produced by my friend Karyl Bannister on Southport Island, Maine. If you don’t have a subscription to both of them, I strongly suggest you sign up – the days they arrive in my mailbox always seem a bit brighter.
In the June, 2010 issue of Cook & Tell, Karyl included a clever section entitled, “Summer Baking (and some are not)”. I love this simple, super-easy cake, and I’ll bet you have all the ingredients on hand, right now.
Orange Yogurt Cake
Unsalted butter, softened, for the pan
1 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (I used non-fat)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Confectioners sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter an 8″ round cake pan. Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl, making sure the batter is mixed well. Pour into the pan and bake about 25 mins., until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for a few minutes before inverting onto a rack. When thoroughly cool, dust with powdered sugar. Now, wasn’t that easy!
From a September 2010 story in Food & Wine about a Southern chef who was forced to lighten his diet after a bout with pancreatitis (ugh) I adapted this luscious crisp recipe. The original was made with nectarines, which would be fine, but I had peaches in the fridge, and it included golden raisins, which I left out because raisins are a winter-y thing – don’t you think?
Peach and Plum Crisp with Oatmeal Streusel
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg
finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
3 ripe peaches, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
3 ripe plums, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
3 tbsp. cold butter (F&W’s recipe specified butter-oil blend, but I’m not going there.)
Preheat the oven to 350. Stir together the filling ingredients – sugars, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest and juices. Fold in the fruit. Scrape into an 8″ square glass baking pan (0r deep-dish pie plate, which is what I used). Cover with foil and baking for 15 minutes.
For the streusel: combine the oats, flours, sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon. Work in the butter. Press the streusel into clumps and sprinkle over the fruit. Bake the crisp for 30 minutes, until fruit is tender and the topping golden. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving, topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream if you wish!