Sometimes It’s OK to Cheat: Dump Cake

So I know that here at ES (and in my life in general) there is a no-cheating policy. That is, make your own damn food, don’t use a bunch of boxed, pre-made mixes and shortcuts. Basically, don’t be Sandra Lee. Sometimes, just sometimes, though… there is a time to break the rules.

Now is that time.

Have you ever heard of “dump cake?” Kind of a gross-sounding name, I know. My mom used to make it for us when we were younger. It’s a very easy, quick, and delicious dessert comprised solely of peach pie filling, cherry pie filling, and yellow cake mix. After dumping those in a cake pan and baking, it kind of comes out as a cross between an actual cake, a cobbler and a pie. Anyway, this summer I got to thinking about my mom’s dump cakes and decided I wanted to bust out my grownup version of the old favorite. It still uses some of the “cheater” ingredients—canned pie filling and cake mix—but I changed up some of the flavors (coconut instead of cherry) and added a few more interesting elements to the topping (toasted coconut-almond crunch versus just cake).

I wasn’t sure if this old recipe would stand up, but the acclaim I received from everyone who tried it confirmed my actions. Sometimes it’s okay to be a cheater.

Peach, Almond, and Toasted Coconut Dump Cake

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Endless Ice Cream: Peach Basil Mascarpone

This is one of the first ice creams I dreamed about when I got my ice cream maker this past spring. I’ve been patiently waiting for those perfectly, drippingly ripe peaches that signify that the end of summer is inevitably near.

Well, my wait is over, and this ice cream is every bit as delicious as I imagined. If you have extra peaches, I recommend doubling up the roasted peaches and saving the extra puree to mix with your yogurt, oatmeal, or to toss with fresh raspberries.

Peach Basil Mascarpone Ice Cream

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Peach Cake: A Dessert So Nice I Made It Twice

I don’t like baking.  I don’t like cake.  And I really don’t like turning on my oven in the summer.  Why then, did I recently find myself making this peach cake twice in the same week? Let me tell you why. It is freaking delicious.

Every summer since I discovered my favorite farmer and his one-man market, I have gone a little peach crazy.  Each week beginning in mid-July, he sets aside a box of bruised, super-ripe or otherwise slightly inferior peaches, which I then purchase at a deep discount, typically about 80 cents a pound.  I usually buy 10-15 pounds at a time.  People ask me what I do with all these peaches—can them or freeze them or something? But here’s my guilty little secret: I really just eat them all, with substantial help from my husband and son.

Somehow, though, a few weeks ago, I ended up with a bowl of cut-up peaches in the fridge that were a little ripe to eat raw, even for me. So, I got it in my head that I would use them to make a peach cake.  I even went so far as to purchase a little bottle of buttermilk so that I could follow the recipe, which I have now slightly adapted from Lisi’s Luscious Desserts.  Company was coming, so I figured that I better do this up right.  And it. Was. Good.  So good, in fact, that a few days later, with my new crate of peaches on hand, I made another one for an Olympic-themed party.  Apple pie may be the quintessential American dessert, but the peak of apple season is still a month away, so peach cake was it.  And let me tell you, there was no complaining about my substitution.

Super-Moist Peach Cake Deliciousness

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Endless Ice Cream: Peach Leaf

While I’m all for over-the-top, multi-ingredient ice creams, some times a bit of simplicity is best. When a co-worker mentioned that her peach trees were flourishing, I jumped on the opportunity to beg for a handful of leaves. I had read that peach leaves impart a subtle, bitter-almondy flavor in custards. I wanted to try it in ice cream, and I was fortunate enough to obtain some unsprayed, fresh, young leaves. The steeping milk needs to be watched fairly closely. The first batch I let steep for 50 minutes and it was way too bitter (I should have known better—I bit into a whole leaf and almost choked on the bitterness). I tossed it and started again, letting it steep half the time, tasting it every ten minutes to make sure it didn’t turn bitter again. The end result is a lovely, almond-scented ice cream. Perfect to accompany some tea cakes on a hot day.

Peach Leaf Ice Cream

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Tired of Adult Popsicles Yet? We Didn’t Think So

You like fruit, you like vodka, you like popsicles — shoot, you like a lot of things. So to help move you more quickly towards all your likings, we found a way to combine the three aforementioned likes into one.

Before your skeptical brow can arch upwards, let us say — yes, you can freeze vodka. After some quick experimenting and an afternoon of mixing and an evening of freezing …Strawberry Peach Vodka Collins Popsicles are yours for the licking!

And careful, these are deceptively kid-like in flavor but packed with adult enjoyment.


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The Swirling Start to a Summer Cocktail

Peaches, blackberries, vanilla Kefir, vodka…buzzed together in a mini-processor for a summer, slightly alcoholic, Sunday comfort.

How are you using those about-to-go bad peaches?