I’ve spent the last week frantically refreshing my emails every time I pick up my phone or walk past my computer, hoping for that magic reply offering an interview or opportunity.
On Friday I realised this was an unsustainable situation as it was driving me (and the cats) mad, and so decided to find something to distract me. Having come to the conclusion that a cocktail at 8.23 am, whilst tasty, would probably not be a wise choice, I opted for my second favourite past time; baking. I’d scored some fabulous flat peaches at the market the previous day, which although still slightly firm were proving fragrant and juicy. A rifle through my cupboards produced a packet of pistachios and a brainwave. Peach and pistachio cake.
Within moments I had the oven pre-heating, a pan greased and the scales out. I whiled away the next hour happily chopping, weighing and mixing and then the following hour and ten minutes wallowing in the scent of butter, sugar and nuts whilst casting on my new knitting project and ignoring the washing up.
As a result I spent more than two blissful hours taken out of myself no longer preoccupied with my inbox. I can completely understand why people are suggesting baking as therapy for those with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The act of concentrating on measuring and stirring and then the pride when you take the result from the oven definitely soothes my mind and soul.
Even if you don’t need a few hours of stress relief, it’s worth setting some time aside to make this cake while the peaches are so perfumed. I know it’s supposedly “bathing suit season” but quite frankly I’d rather eat cake than wear any form of swimwear, and with that many peaches I’m sure a slice counts as one of your “five a day”. I’d originally envisaged this cake topped with a fluffy cloud of swiss meringue buttercream, but opted not to as I don’t think it needs any more than a dusting of icing sugar.
Peach and Pistachio Cake – Serves 8 – 10.
175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
250g peaches (chopped weight, but no need to peel)
2 large eggs
175g self raising flour
100g ground pistachios
2 tablespoons milk
2 drops almond essence
Icing sugar for dusting.
Preheat the oven to 180C and line the base of a 20cm loose based cake tin.
Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, then add two drops of almond essence. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside three tablespoons. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar one at a time mixing thoroughly between each one. If it looks as though the mixture is curdling add a small amount of flour. Add the milk to thin the batter slightly. Toss the chopped peaches with the set-aside flour and then gently mix into the batter.
Place the batter into the tin and smooth the top. Bake for 1hr and 10 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out with small crumbs on it rather than batter. Leave to cool slightly before turning out of the pan. Dust with icing sugar and serve every so slightly warm.
The cake will keep (wrapped well) for three days.