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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Coconut Peach American Buckle with Buttermilk: a piece of Sweet Baked Summer

How the summer buckled my mind- American Coconut Peach Buttermilk Buckle with streusel served with Peach Gel n Vanilla Ice-cream 

The summer days have been replaced by the pouring monsoon for some time now and I am left with the memories of summer- hot, cruel, extremely humid n dry at different times, even though I say so, the days in the monsoon when it doesn’t rain, it’s still summer-a more kind, pleasant soft tone of summer. Summer is totally about mangoes, the most pre-dominant smell n color if you take a walk down the fruit market, is that of the mangoes. At the same time from up in the Himalayan mountains of Himachal, Uttarakhand comes down red ripe cherries, apricots, plums n peach- much less in quantity but beautiful in their color n taste. Every year I do this- I buy a box of cherries and keep eating from them for a long time as the box relaxes in the refrigerator n make dishes out of them once in a while.

Peaches are very fragrant- there is a certain fragrance about them that is more special to me than their taste, it is a sweet aroma, if you smell closely closing your eyes you will understand what I mean. The ripe peach gets sweeter with time and peaches do keep so well in the refrigerator that you can forget about them for a long time and one day come running back fearing they must have gone all bad and then you figure they are very fine.

At times I make a peach compote with sugar n Indian bay leaf and it tastes fantastic, it combines so well with a crispy baked crumble or on top of a warm galette, the warm buttery crumble with the soft peach compote with a sense of sharpness-what  beautiful  bites n a touch of melting ice-cream. When I think of this it makes me crave for it more n it also reminds me of a buckle.

A buckle is rich, dense fruit cake where the fruits rests on top of the cake batter, though some can be mixed inside the batter, and the fruit is then covered with streusel which is a topping with 3 essential parts-butter, sugar n flour, at times various nuts n spices are added to it and the whole mixture goes beautifully brown n a bit crispy being at the top of the cake n the fruit. Traditionally the buckle is often prepared in cast iron pans; they have their origin probably in the United States where they are largely popular and where people bake it using fresh summer fruits like blueberry, peach, and nectarine, raspberry. As the cake batter rises in the oven it incorporates the fruits on the top layer n causing the top layer to buckle, the finished cake often has a crinkly or cracked surface.

In my buckle I bring together two flavors, coconut n peach, coconut is so Indian n tropical n summery and I love how the flavor of peach n coconut mingle together in the oven, so its fusion of Indian n American flavors. I have also used home-made buttermilk for this recipe but you can simple make the buckle with eggs, it’s not necessary, if you do use buttermilk make sure it is a good quality buttermilk because it gives off a different flavor. You can make your own buttermilk easily by diluting fresh rich yogurt with water n churning it with an electric hand whisk or a traditional hand-held churner, after about 6-10 minutes the fat will separate from the liquid, skim off the fat as it separates out, when almost no more fat is coming out of it you have buttermilk in your hands, it’s that simple.

So now I’ll take you to the recipe so you can make it yourself.

For The Recipe: You will need

For the Cake batter:
Flour-160 gm (1 ¼ cup)
Butter-115 gm at room temp (Or 1/4 cup butter+1/4 cup veg. shortening)
Sugar-120 gm, powdered (1/2 cup)
Egg-1 at room temp (use 3 eggs if not using buttermilk)
Vanilla extract-1 tsp
Buttermilk- 80 ml (1/3 cup)
Baking powder- 1 ½ tsp
Salt -1/2 tsp, skip if butter is salted
Baking soda- ¼ tsp (optional, skip if not using buttermilk)
Peach- 3 big peaches, peeled n cut into ½ inch thin slices

For the streusel:
Dry coconut flakes- 4/5 tbsp
Butter- 50 gm cold (1/4 cup)
Sugar/brown sugar- 50 gm (1/4 cup)
Flour- 35 gm (1/3 cup)

For the Peach Gel:
Peach- 1 big, peeled and the flesh pureed in a blender
Agar-Agar- 1 stick or ½ tsp if powder, if stick cut the stick in little pieces and soak in cold water for 15 minutes
Sugar- 2 tbsp
Lime juice- few drops
Salt- a pinch

Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F, butter an 8 inch cake tin or 10 inch cast iron skillet

1. Start with the gel, soak the powder agar agar in 100ml cold water for 10 minutes, then  bring the water to a boil and simmer for about 5-10 minutes  stirring often until the agar agar stripes or granules have dissolved completely, you can check this by lifting the solution with a metal spoon and as the liquid drops from the spoon it should have no specks of agar agar, if there is simmer it for some more time, when it is ready add the peach puree and mix well, then add the sugar, taste n adjust, add the lime juice n salt. Take it off and pour it into your mould, let it come to room temperature and it will set on its own, you can also keep them covered in the refrigerator until needed.

2.  Start by creaming the butter in a big bowl, add the sugar n cream until pale n smooth, add the shortening if using n cream it at this stage, next add the egg and mix until smooth, add the vanilla n mix well.

3. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda n salt and sift on top of the butter mixture, whisk to combine until almost uniform, and then add the buttermilk and mix until uniform n smooth, don’t over mix, just as everything mixes homogeneously you are done.

4. For the streusel take the cold butter in a flat plate, flour , brown sugar and the dry coconut flakes, n cut with knife into smaller lumps, do it for 5-8 minutes until the limps are really small n the mixture looks like slightly wet sand.

5. Pour the cake batter into the pan or iron skillet and top the surface with the peach into a circular pattern, when done cover the peaches with the streusel mixture, then into the oven for about 40-45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean and the streusel have gone well brown n crispy, for that to happen I often put the top grill on for the last 10 minutes in the baking time.

Take the pan out onto a wire rack n rest for 10 minutes, then flip it over onto a plate and then flip it back to straight and you are done!

It looks quite interesting n inviting, isn’t it? And the smell is so delish! Serve it warm with some vanilla ice cream or peach ice-cream if you have got, you can even eat it at room temperature. You can cut small pieces and put them on plates with peach gel and dollops of ice-cream together, and take little bit of each in a bite. You will surely see the faces light up as you serve your friends n loved ones. Bon AppĂ©tit.

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