With summer slipping through our fingers, and the crazy days of school schedules lurking right around the corner, I’m simultaneously trying to ignore reality and brainstorm ways to keep from feeling completely overwhelmed by getting back to the Monday-Friday crush. Of course for me, the balm for the latter usually involves baked goods (you might have guessed as much).
Now, I love baskets of puppies and kittens as much as the next guy, but nothing warms the cockles of my heart quite like a one-bowl recipe. To me, these are the recipes that really celebrate what the best home baking is all about: relative ease, using what you have on hand, the ability to fill the house with a wonderful fragrance on a Tuesday for no particular reason, and of course seizing the opportunity to make everyone think you’re a beacon of domestic tranquility.
I also love that so many one-bowl recipes make for what I like to call Counter Nibbling, yielding a pan of something that you’ll keep right there next to the fruit bowl, in the line of everyone’s sight. Maybe you’ll even keep a knife right there in the pan, because everyone’s just doing a whole lot of that “oh, I’ll slice off one more little hunk” kind of snacking on it anyway. That is, until one day, when you go to lift the crumpled foil for “one more little hunk” for yourself, and without fair warning, it’s suddenly all gone. So goes the story of Counter Nibbling.
Fortunately, we can go back to the first great thing about Counter Nibbled one-bowl recipes, which is that aforementioned ease. With a solid one-bowl recipe, baked bliss is within reach any day of the week. Even while you pull together a simple dinner on the stovetop, you can dump and stir your way to a weekday dessert like it ain’t no thing. And when you’re trying to treat yourself during the week, it’s a great thing to be able to use more natural ingredients, and end up with something that feels like dessert (and maybe even crosses over to become a special, sweet breakfast the next morning), but doesn’t completely go off the rails, nutritionally speaking.
When I started getting super-pumped about working with more natural sugars and sweeteners, one thing that kept blowing my mind was the the fact that just swapping out the standard-issue white sugar for something less processed made such an awesome difference in the flavor of the recipe, and it was often so much more apparent in the simplest recipes where the flavor of the sugar could really shine–equal parts sweetener and seasoning! BOOM. Yeah!
One natural sugar that really does a terrific job of bumping up flavor just by being its fabulous self is coconut sugar (also labeled as coconut palm sugar). I’ve been mentioning it on this here site for a little while now, but if you’ve not worked with it before, I’ve found the most important thing to mention to people is that coconut sugar tastes nothing like coconut (like cilantro and Nicki Minaj, the flavor of coconut is quite polarizing). Coconut sugar doesn’t actually come from the coconut itself, but rather from the sap of the flower of the coconut palm tree. That sap is then heated, dried, and granulated, and what you end up with is a unique sweetener with a wild, almost exotic sweetness, not unlike supermarket brown sugar, but definitely more complex in flavor, since the source of coconut sugar isn’t sugar cane.
Coconut sugar has gotten a lot of love in the nutritional community lately because it also is fairly nutrient-dense when compared to refine white sugar, and ranks lower on the glycemic index. Not too long ago, when testing recipes for Real Sweet, I would have to order coconut sugar online for the best price and accessiblity, but now Wholesome!™ Organic Coconut Palm Sugar is right on the baking aisle in major supermarkets with all their other great natural sugars and sweeteners. Win!
Speaking of other great Wholesome!™ products, I also like to use a lot of their Organic Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar, both as a substitute for refined granulated white sugar in cake batters, cookie doughs, and candies, and as a sparkly, rustic finishing touch on quickbreads, muffins, cookies, and cakes like this weekday wonder. Because Lord knows we could all use a little extra sweet sparkle in the middle of a long week.
One-Bowl Peach and Almond Meal Cake
Beyond the quickness with which this cake batter comes together, this recipe is also great because of its high riffability factor. Peaches are so great right now while we still have them, but really any fruits or berries that you have on hand will work here. The key to making this all come together super fast is to have the butter very soft, so soft that you could stir together the batter together by hand. Be sure to have the eggs at room temperature as well (putting them in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes will warm fridge-cold eggs in just a few minutes).
Note that you want almond meal here, the tweedy kind made from ground almonds with the skins still on, not almond flour, which absorbs liquids differently. You can easily make your own almond meal by grinding whole raw almonds in a food processor or blender.
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces/170 grams) almond meal
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces/128 grams) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
3/4 cup (4 ounces/112 grams) Wholesome!™ Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces/70 grams) unsalted butter, very soft
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 medium peaches, cut into sixths
Wholesome!™ Organic Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar, for sprinkling
Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 325°F. Spray a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients except the peaches. Mix on medium speed until the batter is evenly mixed, about 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Evenly space the peach wedges over the batter to create four rows of three, ensuring that each cake square will have its own peach wedge nestled in the center.
Bake until the cake is golden, the fruit is tender, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean but not dry, about 35 minutes. During the last 8 minutes of baking, generously sprinkle the surface of the cake with turbinado sugar. Let the cake cool in the pan set over a wire rack before cutting into 12 equal squares. Store any leftovers covered tightly at room temperature for up to 4 days.
This final post in a series has been sponsored by the good people of Wholesome!™. Products and compensation provided by Wholesome!™; all opinions are my own. You can always trust that I’ll only share information and products with you that I personally love and use in my own kitchen.
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