The house I grew up in had a wonderful backyard full of fruit trees, including two peach trees that produced pounds and pounds of peaches during the summer months. I took this for granted, in the way that children do, and didn’t appreciate the blessing of having so much fresh, delicious, free fruit growing at my fingertips. If I thought about it at all, it would be to complain about having to pick up the rotting fruit from the ground–which truly is a horrible chore–or the long, sticky days of canning peach slices and making peach jam.
Now I am older. Wiser. A buyer of my own produce, and a pincher of my own pennies. And a green-eyed monster when I hear others casually talk about their fruit trees, or berry bushes, or tomato plants. Now that I buy all of my produce at the farmers market, I wish I could have my childhood over again–I would spent whole afternoons just devouring the peaches, or the plums, or the strawberries that were so available and so unappreciated. The market yields good fruit, yes–bless sunny southern California–but I can only buy so many $12 bags of fuzzy peaches before the food budget is shot. Sometimes at the end of a particularly expensive farmers market trip, I feel like Scarlett O’Hara. I stand by my car, clutch my bulging bags of overpriced tomatoes, and shake my fists towards the sky: “As God is my witness, I will one day grow my own fruits and vegetables!”
Alas, dramatic pronouncements have so far failed to get me any closer to having a yard of my own, so for this week’s cake I again relied on farmer’s market peaches, the same ones I used to make grilled peaches and poundcake. The original recipe was for cranberry upside-down cake, which looked–and sounded–delicious. But with temperatures still in the 80s, it feels much more like summer still than fall, and I wanted to spend a little more time with summer fruits before the fall pumpkin and apple-palooza.
The verdict: aaaaaalright. It was missing something–maybe the crunch of nuts, or a more robust flavor from cranberries. The peaches were nice, but once baked, they had the unmistakable texture of those summer-packed canned peaches of my childhood, and the mild, slightly spiced cake underneath just didn’t bring enough flavor for me. I love the idea of the cranberry-upside down cake, so once it really starts to feel like fall around here, I’m going to try it again.