Recipe: Peach Shortcake

Happy first day of summer, friends!

We've already had a few weeks of summer heat and so far I've dug my toes into the sand, bbq'ed a few hot dogs (as well as had my fav summer beer), hung by the pool, and covered myself in sunscreen and/or bug repellant from head to toe. I'm hoping for more of that as the summer weekends fly by. I thought about making a summer bucket list, but might just try to chill and see what the weekends bring.

Do you have big summer plans? Vacations and trips and big ideas? I hope you do! Got a bbq where you can't show up empty handed? I can help with that!

A twist on a strawberry shortcake, we're going a little wild and adding peaches instead of berries PLUS brushing these sweet little cakes with some peach syrup. The perfect way to feed a summer crowd but easy enough to throw together. We're hitting that sweet spot.

Peach Shortcake with Whipped Cream

Yields 8-12 slices

For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For peach cake syrup:
1/2 cup peach puree (made from 1-3 peaches)
2/3 granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons water

For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
5-7 peaches

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare three 9-inch round cake pans by coating in butter and a thin layer of flour.

Make your cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to remove any lumps and combine ingredients. Mix in half of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, then mix in the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the other half of the dry ingredients, mixing just enough to combined. Scrape down the bowl.

Split the batter evenly between the three 9-inch cake pans and bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a cooling rack.

Make your cake syrup: While the cake is baking, make your cake syrup. In a food processor, puree 1-3 peaches until you have a 1/2 cup of puree. In a small saucepan combine peach puree, sugar, and water. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolved (about 5 minutes) and remove from heat. 

Once your cakes are cooled, use a pastry brush to brush the syrup onto all over the top of them. Wait a few minutes until the syrup soaks in , then repeat. You can do this as many times as you want (I did 2-3 times), but you will have extra peach syrup.

Make your whipped cream: Place your metal mixing bowl and wire attachment in your fridge 10 minutes before you begin whisking. Add heavy cream and sugar to the bowl of the mixer. Begin whisking on low, and then gradually increase the speed until medium-high. Add in your vanilla extra. Continue to whisk until you have siff peaks (about 5-7 minutes).

Assemble the cake: place one cake on the center of a cake stand or large plate. Using a rubber spatula, spoon a third of the whipped cream into the center of the cake and spread towards the outside. Thinly slice your peaches and place them in an even layer on the whipped cream. For presentation purposes, you want to them to be all the way to the edge of the cake so you can see them once you assemble the rest of the cake. Repeat with the middle and top layer.

Store in the refrigerator or chilled space before serving. Because this is a "naked" cake, you'll want to eat the same day as the exposed cake will dry out faster.

Recipe: Salty & Sweet Peanut Butter Cookies

Recently when I'm wandering around my kitchen, looking through the fridge and opening cabinets searching for something to snack on, I always wish I had cookies. This is a pretty new craving for me and cookies are not something that I usually have around the house.  But, when the need to eat cookies struck the other night, I decided it was time to see what I had lying around to bake with. These twist-on-a-classic peanut butter cookies were the result.

I have to say, peanut butter cookies always fall a little flat for me. The best thing about peanut butter is its ability to be both salty and sweet, but most pb cookies taste one dimensional and too sugary for my liking. They lack that saltiness that good peanut butter brings to the table.

So we're adding a little extra salt in the form of coarsely ground pink himalayan salt (or any type of salt grinder you have); using cake flour instead of all purpose to get a really soft, delicate texture; and baking them just until the centers are set and the edges are slightly browned. I couldn't stop eating these cookies and I hope all you salt lovers out there rejoice in happiness. 

Salty Peanut Butter Cookies

Yields 2 dozen

Adapted from this recipe

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cup cake flour*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 tablespoon coarsely ground salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix butter and peanut butter together. Mix in brown sugar. Add in vanilla and the egg and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to aerate and combine. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until you have a dough. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. 

While dough is chilling, combine 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 tablespoon coarsely ground salt into a small bowl. Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in the salt/sugar mixture and place on the lined cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Using the tines of a fork, press the fork into the dough to create the crisscrossed pattern. Bake for 9-10 minutes, or until the edges begin to get slightly darkened. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

*If you do not have cake flour, you can substitute all-purpose flour. The cake flour makes these cookies softer and more delicate, but all-purpose will do just fine in a pinch.

5 Things I'm Loving Right Now

We spent Memorial Day weekend cleaning and purging the house, bleaching and scrubbing the desk, and getting the house ready for summer weather. And has tired I was after it was all over (well, semi-over. We still need to purge the basement and spare bedroom), I'm so thrilled to have less stuff sitting around gathering dust. And bleaching our dirt-and-algae covered deck turned out AMAZING. Now that it's a little less disgusting out there, we're hoping to spend a little more time grilling hot dogs, drinking rosé, and making fired in the chiminea.

Have you done your spring/summer cleaning yet? Is it something you look forward to, or completely dread? Now that I've gotten rid of so many things I wasn't using, I have a little more space for a few new items! Here are a few things I've been enjoying recently:

For the last year or so I've been struggling to spend time reading. When I open a book, I can't focus on the words, I have to keep rereading things, and it makes me immediately so sleepy. BUT I've been trying to change my habits and get myself back on the reading band wagon.  A friend gave me the book, You are a Badass, when I left my previous job and a year later, I started reading it and definitely like it a lot. I also bought myself I'll Be Gone in the Night by Michelle McNamara about the Golden State Killer and it's been such a fascinating read.

I purchased some DOPE mules from Target that I've been absolutely loving lately. Super comfortable, a slight heel but nothing too crazy, and love the yellow color. 

It's finally peony season! Peonies are by far my fav flower and now that Trader Joe's finally has them, I'm stocking up all season long.

I was given these Heart Sunglasses by a friend and they are not my go-to glasses. I had a pair of more classic-looking heart shaped sunglasses that I've been wearing for a few years, but they were starting to get a big worn out. At first, I thought they were too big and flashy but I quickly got over that because I love a statement sunglass. 

After a rough beginning of the season with my scooter, we finally got her tuned and ready to go for the summer. My scooter is absolutely one of my most favorite purchases I have ever made and has made traveling around the city way easier and a lot more fun. Because I'm thinking about trading my girl in at the end of the year for an upgraded model, I'm trying to really enjoy my last summer with this mint beauty. 

Recipes: Blueberry Peach Bars

And just like that, spring has passed and summer weather is here. We're busy planning some short vacations and beach trips, my scooter is all tuned up and ready to ride, we're filling up on ice cream and water ice, and the farmer's markets are filled with the best produce and flowers. 

Speaking of summer produce, I've sat down and thought about it and I don't think peaches get the hype they truly deserve. Summer is all about berries and watermelon and though I love those, peaches are pretty amazing. So to celebrate this fresh summer weather, we're making some simple and delicious pie bars with peaches and blueberries. 

Peach Raspberry Bars

Makes 12 bars

Crust:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Filling:
3 peaches
3/4 cup blueberries
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon sugar

Topping:
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
sprinkle of salt
3 tablespoon butter, melted

Prepare a 8x8 baking pan by spraying with a light layer of cooking spray and lining with a parchment paper so two sides hang over for easy removal. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Make your crust: In a large mixing bowl, mix together oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt with a wooden spoon. Add in melted butter and mix until combined and clumpy. Spread into an even layer in the prepared baking sheet. 

To make your filling, thinly slice peaches and place on top of crust in a single layer. Fill in between the peach slices with raspberries cut in half. Once you've created one layer, sprinkle with corn starch, juice from the lemon, and 1/2 tablespoon of sugar. Add another layer of peaches and raspberries and then sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.

Topping: In the same mixing bowl you made the crust in, add oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt with a wooden spoon. Add in melted butter and mix until combined and clumpy. Using your hands, sprinkle lumps of the topping onto the peaches/raspberries. You should be able to see the peaches through the top.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the fruit is cooked through. Cool completely before cutting into squares. These bars are on the softer side, so store them in the refrigerator.

Peach Blueberry Bars 2.jpg

Recipe: Lemon Blueberry Donuts

I rarely bake for anyone other than myself or the blog. It just ends up happening that way. So when I have the opportunity to bake specifically for someone, it's always an enjoyable change. You get to think about them and what flavors they like or what their favorite treats are. It's like a specially curated birthday present, but better because it's made from butter and sugar and we get to eat it.

Today we're talking birthday treats, which are the best kind of treats in my opinion. Each year I ask G what kind of treat he would like me to bake for his birthday. Two years ago I made him these Funfetti Birthday Cake Ice Cream Sandwiches and last year he requested this Blueberry and Custard Sheet Cake. This year, it was lemon and blueberry donuts with a cream cheese frosting. Sounds delicious, right? 

Lemon Blueberry Donuts

Makes 

For Donuts:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter, cold and cubed
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
rainbow sprinkles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare donut pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray.

Begin by mixing lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl and working the two together with a spoon (or fingers) until mixture is clumpy and fragrant. In a large bowl, mix together flours, lemon sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until combined. Add the cubes of butter and using a pastry blender (or your hands) cut the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is sand-like with bits of butter throughout.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until fluffy. Add in yogurt and vanilla and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and fold together with a rubber spatula. Before completely combined, add the lemon juice and continue to fold together until mixture is smooth. Lastly, add blueberries and fold them in.

Scrape the batter into a pastry bag with a tip large enough for the blueberries to pass through (or a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off) and pipe the batter evenly among the wells of the greased pan. Before placing into the oven, lightly tap the donut pan on a flat countertop to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Make your frosting: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together softened butter and cream cheese. Slowly add in powdered sugar and vanilla extract until all is combined. If your frosting needs to be softer, add in milk one tablespoon at a time until you have your desired consistency. Using an off-set spatula, frost your donuts and top with rainbow sprinkles.

Keep donuts in an airtight container for up to 3 days.