Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Peach of a Breakfast

It's the busy season at the Inn, with guests arriving and departing in a steady flow, here in town to enjoy the resident light opera company and other area attractions. And since the weekends have meant a full house, the Innkeeper asked me to help cook breakfasts several weekends in a row. Not a problem!

When we parted last weekend, the Innkeeper gave me a new mission for this week's cooking. We had discussed the possibility of my baking something to share with the guests, and though she usually serves scones (baked by her co-owner's wife), she wants to add other possibilities to the menu and asked if I could bake something different. Say, a coffee cake?

Say no more! (Nudge nudge, wink wink!)

My favorite coffee cake in recent years has been a recipe from The Voluptuous Vegan (and the title of the book alone should tell you that it's going to be a wicked tasty recipe) for a date-pecan coffee cake. With two layers of cake around a creamy date filling laced with finely chopped spiced pecans, and topped with a cruncy-sweet streusel, it's a breakfast that never fails to delight and inspire me.

This time, though, I wanted to try something a little different in order to work in some more local foods. Since I'm low on dates, I decided yesterday to thaw a bag of black raspberries from the freezer, and after straining them to remove the seeds, I simmered the liquid with two fresh peeled and chopped peaches and a handful of mini diced crystallized ginger. With a bit of cornstarch and flour to thicken the mix, I added some chopped pecans, stirred, and let it cool while I worked on other projects.

Later in the afternoon, I assembled the entire coffee cake, using lots of local goodies from my pantry: honey, maple syrup, pecans (from Sojourner), and apple cider vinegar. I started filling the springform pan with a layer of cake batter, topped with messy dollops of the berry-peach-pecan filling.

After scraping the rest of the cake batter into the pan, I topped it all with a sweet-spicy pecan streusel and slid it into the oven to bake for an hour.

When the cake came out, it looked as good as the original version and smelled just as tempting.

But I had to wait until today to find out how it tasted.

I arrived at the Inn, ready to set the table and to get things started in the kitchen as the Innkeeper followed me through the door. We agreed to slice the coffee cake into 20 thin slices so that everyone could enjoy a small piece and not feel as if they'd overeaten (since we were also serving a fruit cup and an egg-sausage-vegetable casserole).

By setting out the entire cake, I missed my opportunity to sample a piece before serving it to guests, so I just kept my fingers crossed that everything had turned out all right. And once the guests sat down to breakfast, it wasn't long before I was dragged out into the dining room for the verdict: "Delicious!"

They asked questions about the ingredients and were amazed when I told them it was a vegan cake, but they were especially happy to discover the number of wholesome local ingredients that went into their breakfast. I think some folks went back for a second piece, but they very kindly saved a piece for me so that I could sample my own creation.

The Innkeeper, thrilled with the response to something new, encouraged me to keep working on the recipe to my heart's content, developing it as I saw fit (with seasonal variations) and bringing it with me periodically for breakfast. She still wants me to try other breakfast items like biscuits and sweet rolls, but for now, the coffee cake definitely gets high marks and rave reviews.

And that's just peachy by me!


At 7/29/2007 8:15 PM, Blogger Tina said...

Oh. My. God. That sounds amazing!:-)

At 7/30/2007 6:53 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Well, none of the guests had quite that strong a reaction, but when the Bistro Chef stopped by to drop off more coffee, he caught a glimpse of the cake and breathed, "Wow......."

Which made me feel awfully good!

Wish I could share a piece with you, Tina! :-)

At 8/02/2007 9:13 PM, Blogger Spicyflower said...

Oh boy. So these are the things I miss while away and working. Shame on me but good for you ; ) What's all this business about the Inn? Something a little different or just showing off? ; ) I miss you Baklavaqueen.

At 8/03/2007 7:26 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Hello, Spicyflower! Sorry I haven't kept in touch (or ever got around to celebrating your 30th properly)... must do that soon, so I can update you on my "part-time job"! Will drop you a line soon...


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