That point at which you run out of milk and it’s too close to your vacation to buy another? Awesome.
We’re in that final slide of using up food or trying to stuff it in the freezer before hightailing it outta Dodge to Tofino (!), while at the same time wrapping up stories and finishing off other work that requires me to buy more food. A good problem to have, I know.
Our fridge contains (still) a plethora of juicy fruit – peaches, nectarines and berries of all sorts. And so because my friend Jamie just sent along a copy of her new book, which has been sitting on my kitchen table for about a week, I opened it up and tried a recipe that she makes with plums, but has on her blog made with peaches and cherries (!), and is exactly the sort of formula that you can pull into service all summer long, using whatever fruit you happen to have and like.
The dough is more dense, chewy cookie than cake, although it could be called either. It reminds me of a recipe I used years ago that in my recipe box was called kuchen, the German word for cake, but it doesn’t seem overly German, either. The eggs keep it from being a crumbly shortcrust, and while she flavours hers with almond extract (wait! it’s sounding German again), you could leave it out and stick with vanilla, or grate some lemon or orange zest in as you beat the butter and sugar.
It’s a perfect kind of blank canvas you can flavour how you like and customize with whatever fruit you like, jumbling it all up if you have an odd collection – maybe a single plum, a few cherries, some raspberries from the back bush – it all works. Rhubarb, maybe?
Bonus: these bars, far less crumbly than most cake, travel well – perfect to pack if you happen to be heading out on a summer road trip.
Peach or Plum & Berry Bars
adapted from Jaime’s book, Celebrate Every Day: Recipes for Making the Most of Special Moments with Your Family
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup + 3 Tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2 peaches or nectarines or 2-3 plums, sliced
a few handfuls of fresh berries – blueberries, raspberries and sliced strawberries
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for a minute, until pale and fluffy; add the eggs and vanilla and almond extracts and beat until smooth. Add the flour and salt and blend just until combined. Spread into a buttered 9×13-inch pan (it will be thick and a little tricky to spread – and will be thin – it’s OK).
Slice the peaches onto the cake and scatter with berries, arranging the fruit so that it’s in a single layer. Sprinkle with the 3 Tbsp. sugar and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the middle is set.
Serves 12 or more.