Good evening all. Today’s been another day, and I hope that today’s been a day you might remember for good reasons. Or a day which you’re hoping might go on and on and never end. Or maybe it’s a day with its best part still yet to come? You never know.
Today, I choose not to write about today. My day hasn’t been particularly remarkable. Instead, today I intend to write about the events of Thursday evening. On Thursday evening I underwent what can only be described as a Peach-Related Meltdown. It has, literally, taken me the past couple of days to gather myself enough to possibly describe in words what happened on Thursday. I’m composed and I’m recovering.
However, before I write about Thursday, I feel this story needs some background context. To begin, I need to tell you about my Tesco-Directed Meltdown, an event which occurred some days previously to my Peach-Related Meltdown. These haven’t been my only meltdowns in the past weeks (it is third year uni), but possibly they’ve been the funniest and they’ve been the only ones not involving uncontrolled weeping. And no blog needs that.
So last week our flat got a Tesco delivery of food! The order had been a hot topic for days, with many amendments and much hype over recipe plans (sad but true). The delivery came in the evening and a couple of us were pyjama-d and ready with a film on, waiting in for its arrival. Yet THIS STORY is not one with a happy ending. Our fatty-propelled anticipation was soon to turn to horror and, in my case, something much more…
Basically, the drama began at the door. I forgot about the Tesco order entirely. When the doorbell went, thinking it would be a keyless flatmate on the doorstep, I padded down to let them in and took my hot water bottle with me. Outside there was in fact a suuuper tense, seeeriously edgy, nooooot particularly happy Tesco man. He sounded that way but I couldn’t SEE him. This was because he’d stacked a great tower of Tesco crates between us. He passed the order receipt and the signature keypad for me to sign, around the edge of these to me. I signed the keypad and waved it back around the edge of the crates, into the night. Intimacy was lacking.
My flatmate set about dramatically shifting the crates (my hands were full with my hot water bottle) and I settled on the stairs to review our substitution list. There were, miraculously, only two items substituted this week (an omen surely). Yet, even though I’d ordered the least of ANYONE in our flat, both the substitutions were for me.
My reduced fat oven chips were substituted for full fat and they had neither been able to provide me with my cheese pizza, or substitute it for ANY OTHER KIND OF CHEESE PIZZA. My first thought: Was there really no. other. cheese pizza to be found in your entire Tesco superstore? My second thought: This is my penance for ordering pizza and chips, which I’m not even allowed on my health kick anyway. Then, my third and final thought: I must make up for this discretion by both refusing the fat-filled chips and never eating a chip again.
So I explained to the Tesco man that I wanted to send my chips back. This went down like a ton of bricks. Huffing and puffing, Mr Tesco went through about ten crates looking for the chips before my flatmate found them in a crate she had taken inside. Outwardly, I was embarrassed and apologetic. Really, it was a joy to piss him off. I headed in, fuming at my lack of freezer food, and burdened by my failure as a human for having ordered such shit.
Then THINGS GOT WORSE. We started putting things away in cupboards. I was gathering my treats together on the living room floor. As this sorting went on, and less things were left in crates, I realised that my cartons of cupboard-keep OJ weren’t there. I’d decided to stockpile and had ordered four cartons, but they were nowhere to be seen. Instead, there were 4 cartons of refrigerated OJ that no one was claiming and THEY COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE FOR ME. But they were.
I launched a tirade of insults against Tesco and attempted to wedge all the OJ onto my fridge shelf, creatively removing items from packaging in order to make space. Words were being said and I was putting my cupboard items away. Arranging nuts by size and colour. Making sure the labels of all tins faced forwards WHEN I SAW THAT NOT ALL OF MY TINNED PEACHES HAD COME IN JUICE. Some were juiceless. Some were in syrup. Tesco had, incredibly, got half of my tins right and half of them wrong. They’d got half of them wrong. Half of my peaches were covered in syrup. I don’t like syrup and my fridge shelf was a joke and I had no pizza and no chips. And I picked up the phone.
The Tesco customer service helpline REALLY were not prepared for what came. I literally, just, I was silent for a very long time while I waited in the queue. And then let rip. I was saying things like “This BLATANTLY isn’t what I ordered IS IT”… “My peaches just aren’t right!”… “What if I were allergic to syrup, eh?”… and “How does a person store that much juice??”. All of this shrilly shrilled at a pitch barely audible to Tesco or mankind.
So after scaring this lady and scaring my flatmates, our account was credited with a refund for my OJ and my peaches (even the ones that had been correctly delivered in juice). I had my way. I am very grateful to Tesco. I hung up the phone and went to bed.
You will be pleased to hear that I made a full recovery from my TDM and it wasn’t spoken about the next day in our flat. That weekend I went home to visit family and my sanity was restored. I voluntarily returned to Newcastle and to uni and there were no meltdowns from me for a full week.
Then, on Thursday I was rearranging my cupboard again (a pastime) when I came upon the peaches in syrup, once more. They were where I left them. In my cupboard. So, inspired to turn their dreadful occurrence into something joyful, I set about baking them into a cake for me and the flatmates to enjoy. I was going to bake peach cake!
It was great. I found a recipe on Google. Before long I was creaming away, simmering things, mixing it up, stirrrring arrrround. I had Elbow on my iPod. The scene was very chilled. All was at ease. All was good in the world. My mix was looking good. I arranged peaches artistically in a swirl. It all came together and the cake was looking lovely! Lovely.
So I put it in the oven and I’m washing the dishes. My iPod was out and I could hear a dripping sound. The tap wasn’t running, so where was it coming from? What was dripping? Something was splatting. And then I realised… that sound was coming from inside the oven.
In slow motion, I turned. I opened the oven door. CAKE MIX WAS LEAKING FROM MY TIN. It was coming out of the bottom and dripping onto the floor of the oven. It was leaking. It was a tin with a push-up base and somehow mix was getting out of a gap between the tin and the base. It was all going wrong. My cake was being ruined. At super speed, I took a baking tray, put it on the floor of the oven, and shut the door as quickly as I could.
Alone in the kitchen, I contemplated the situation. Things were not looking good. I tentatively decided to open the oven door a crack and peeked inside. My baking tray was half full with mix. It was filling quickly. I shut the door. What to do? What to do? I could not solve this myself. So, I ran and found a flatmate.
Without leaving spaces between any of the words, I tried to say what was happening and tried to ask for help. I was a lot like: “BiddypeachestherescaketheovenbutmypeachestheresitleakingtheresthetinsitsitsallitsonthebottomitsnotinititsleakingiBIDDYIDON’TKNOWWHATTODOOOO”
So, my flatmate stepped in. She explained that we needed to move the cake into a new tin. One that didn’t leak. I greased a new tin while she prepared a spatula. We had to chuck it all from one to the other. Cake every-bloody-where. The peaches stopped being in a swirl and they mixed into the mix. Then my flatmate managed to scrape the partial pancake that was the other half of the mix away from the baking tray it was stuck to. She stirred it into the main mix. And she returned it all to the oven. Forlorn.
I took a half hour lie down while the cake baked. Meditated upon occurrences. Baking NEVER GOES WRONG FOR ME. I’m really good at it! I’m on the committee of the uni’s baking society! My banana bread is LEGENDARY. If I can’t bake, what am I doing??? And really, today, I’m still pondering that question.
The cake baked and, as my flatmate assured me, it came out edible in the end. It was a baked-with-love type of looker. It had welded itself to the new tin. But it was warm and all the ingredients were still there and we managed to scrape it out onto little plates and eat it with forks. The kitchen smelt homely. My creation had a gooey texture like a steamed pudding and it was sweet right in the back of your throat like a treacle sponge. It was cake.
So, life went on. I have lost all faith in my abilities as a baker. But I washed my plate and my fork, and I went to bed. I woke up the next day. I went on to continue with my life and my blog. So my life. But things are NOT OK with baking. In light of this, I doubt I will ever bake anything involving syrupy peaches ever again, or ever again associate with the syrupy peach. But, to its credit, there was nothing to fault with the recipe I used, and it even tasted good despite all that went wrong.
So, here I include the recipe for how to bake and enjoy your very own, too…
Recipe: Peach Cake
(Based upon a Food Network recipe, which you can find here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/caramel-peach-upside-down-cake-recipe.html)
Time Taken: 90 minutes
Ingredients: For the caramel peaches ~
A little butter, 130g granulated sugar, I heaped tablespoon of golden syrup, a splash of water, 2 tins of sliced peaches in light syrup
For the cake ~
50g plain flour, 75g corn flour, half a teaspoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, a pinch of salt, 100g butter, 125g granulated sugar, 2 eggs, 100ml sour cream
How to make your Peach Cake in ten easy steps:
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Using butter, grease the sides and base of a deep cake tin (ONE WITH A FIRMLY ATTACHED BOTTOM). Line with greaseproof paper and then spread more butter over this. Look your heart attack in the eye.
2. Measure your sugar, golden syrup and water into a saucepan and heat this on a hob. Stir until the sugar dissolves. After about 5 minutes, your goop should turn an amber-caramel shade. When you think so, take it off the heat and pour into your prepared cake tin. Set aside to cool.
3. Pour out your tins of peaches into a sieve and leave the syrup for a small while to drain off of the peaches and into a bowl. Contemplate. Your next task is to arrange these peaches in a pattern amidst the caramel in the base of your cake tin. Which pattern will you decide on? Have you ever considered peach design before? How ambitious do you want to be? The decision you face now will majorly impact upon the finished cake’s look. Choose wisely.
4. Having arranged your peaches, set the cake tin aside. Take out a large mixing bowl and measure into this bowl your flours, baking powder, bicarb of soda and your salt. Grab yourself a wooden spoon and stir these all up.
5. In a separate, smaller bowl, use a fork to cream together your butter and sugar. Then, use the rim of this bowl to crack your eggs into the buttery mix, one at a time. Stir in the egg until your buttery mix becomes an oily, swimmy, very unappealing looking concoction.
6. Add half of the oily mix to your bowl of dry ingredients and stir. Then add your soured cream and stir some more. THEN add the second half of your oily mix, and do some really good stirring.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: You don’t want to knock the air out of your cake mix by stirring it too violently. You definitely don’t. But nor do you want to under-stir your mix and be left with lumps of whole ingredients. Your foodies won’t appreciate a lump like that in their mouth. They might spit it out and force feed it to you. The solution to this dilemma is to stir your mix gently but effectively, at a steady pace. Take care to keep all the mix moving, so that parts aren’t left untouched while others go around and around like it’s Formula One.
7. When it seems light, pale and fluffy (and a finger test confirms that it’s tasting good), pour your batter into the cake tin, so that it evenly covers your peach design. Carefully transport this tin of cake mix into the oven.
8. Bake the cake until it becomes golden brown and a sharp knife stabbed into its middle comes out clean. I put some tin foil over mine for the last ten minutes, as I was worried that the top seemed golden but the middle seemed uncooked. In the end though, it is a very gooey cake as there’s so much juicy fruit inside it. In light of this, I doubt you’re ever going to get a knife that comes out totally dry, due to all the juice in the cake. At the end of the day, it’s your call as to when you’re ready to take out of the oven. Don’t be rushed.
9. Cover the tin with tin foil and leave the cake to cool in it, on the side for 20 minutes. Exercise patience. When the time’s up, run a sharp knife around the edge of your cake to prise it away from the edge of the tin, and tip the cake out onto a cooling rack (if you have one, a plate will do otherwise). Fill the tin with warm, soapy water and leave to soak.
10. Slice your cake up into decent chunks and serve warm to your hungry housemates!
Here’s how my baby turned out, I hope you had more luck than me!
So, what do you think of peach cake? Should peach and cake be mixed? Should you do it like this? It is a taste sensation? Is the recipe easy to follow? Would you make it again? Did your fork-holders give rave reviews? Was everything disaster-free or did any calamities occur?
Chefs, I have faith in you. I believe there’s a reader out there who’s more capable of taking on this recipe than me. And, for you, I hope that it turns out wonderfully. For the rest of us, using forks to gather together some of our steamy, gooey, treacly, MESSY MONSTER CAKE… there’s always next time. Life’s peachy.
Bake on my lovelies,