Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Don't Cook Like My Mother, OR:Recipes Revisited: Mom's "Fruit Tart"

My mom didn't work most of the time when I was growing up--not till my brother and I were around the age SC and JR are now. She was home, getting dinner on the table every night, cooking at a leisurely pace. She never learned how to cook quickly and efficiently--and at 79 (bless her), that's only gotten worse.

I've been working all my adult life and with a full time job and 2 kids, learning to cook on the fly has become second nature. Which explains why I decided to make what my mom calls a fruit "tart" (it's a cake) this morning before going to work.

If I had started it when I woke up extra early, that would've been fine. Instead, in the half hour when I am also making school lunches (I know SC should make her own, but if I left her to it, she wouldn't eat well), getting JR breakfast and waiting with her to make sure the school bus arrives.

Somehow between making sandwiches, slicing fruit and hunting for the water bottles I made the dough/batter. As JR ate breakfast, I sliced the peaches and arranged them on the cake. And in the 5 minutes between getting back into the house and taking SC to school, I made the sugar topping, got it on the cake and got the cake in the oven.

The one problem was that the cake needed 40-60 minutes to bake, and I had to leave the house in roughly 45 minutes. And the cake seemed to need a little more time. I fear making a gummy cake--happened once long ago, though the Man and his brother ate it anyway(!)

I shut off the heat, left the cake in the oven and hoped for the best.

And tonight, when I cut it, I was pleased to find it was one of the best cakes I've ever made that way.

You can make this cake with any seasonal fruit. I often make it with blueberries and/or strawberries, though I usually omit the cinnamon with the berries.

The cake shown was made in a 9x13 pan and I'm giving the recipe that way, but you can halve it and bake it in a brownie pan.

And don't worry about arranging the fruit beautifully. I gave the recipe for this to a colleague and she brought her version in looking so pretty that I've been ashamed to do mine any other way since. But I used to just fling the fruit on and it tasted fine. Just depends on how much time you do--or don't--have!

Mom's Fruit "Tart" 

The batter/dough

4 Tbs canola or corn oil
4 Tbs sugar
4 Tbs milk (fat free is fine)
2 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour (Mom uses cake flour, but all purpose is fine)
2 tsp baking powder

The Fruit:  5-6 peaches, sliced  OR about 3-4 cups of blueberries and/or strawberries (sliced)

The Topping:
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon (omit if using berries)
2-4 Tbsp canola or corn oil

Mix the oil and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in the milk and eggs.
Combine the flour and baking powder and add it to the bowl.
Mix in the flour/baking powder well. I call this a batter/dough because it's stiffer than a batter and sticky.
You can add an extra tsp or two of milk, but expect the texture to be that way.

Spread the batter/dough in a greased 9x13 pan. A rubber scraper is helpful in spreading it out evenly.

Top the batter/dough with the sliced fruit, arranging it to cover as much of the dough as possible.

Combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Add enough oil to make the mixture crumbly and sprinkle it over the top of the cake--your fingers are best for doing this.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-60 minutes.


  1. I'm always having to count on the oven to finish things off on its own. Some things just take too much time. Unfortunately, I can't count on being able to multi-task successfully. I'd probably leave something important out, or mix up the kid's lunches.

    This peach cake looks so good! We used to have to wait until August to get decent peaches, but the past couple of years I have eschewed the early ones and missed out completely. Climate change?

  2. The thing about baking peaches in this is that between the baking and the sugar it doesn't matter if they're not the best peaches. Even when I do have the farmer's market peaches they are for eating--JR & I wolf them and even SC likes them!

    I seem to remember last year talking to my favorite farm market seller & noting that things were earlier than usual. Probably better make sure I stop missing the farmer's market--it's Sundays and Sundays lately I've been away or busy :(

  3. Thanks alot! Might give it a shot!!!



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