This week has been my first week off work, and the days are long. Where last week I spent my days in a panic that I wouldn’t get everything done before this kid arrives, now I am beginning to think he’s never coming. The doctor assures me that “we’re close,” but that all I can do now is wait.
Patience is not my virtue, and “any day now” is not enough information to make plans around.
It’s a weird feeling, this lack of a sense of purpose or structure. In the absence of a real to-do list, I don’t do much of anything. I should probably finish addressing the thank-you cards from my shower. I should put the laundry away and do something about the kitchen floor.
I was proud of myself yesterday because I made dinner, a word that if I were being totally honest would be placed in quotation marks. We eat a lot of take-out. During the day, when the light in this place is most oppressive, I wander up and down Granville Street because I am told that walking will help speed things along. At home the cat no longer feigns interest in our conversation, though we do spend long hours napping.
The evenings are much nicer. The light is softer, and people come over. I feel most like myself in the evenings.
My parents called on Saturday to tell us they were going to come over on Sunday to bring baby things and dinner. There are still local peaches and nectarines at the markets, because the season was late this year, so I grabbed the last few big nectarines in the bin and decided to make dessert, which counts toward my total productivity for the week and also means cake for breakfast until the leftovers run out – double win.
The nice thing about this dessert is that you do it in bursts with long stretches of sitting down in between. You make the batter, and then it rises, and then you put the batter in a pan, and it rises again. You make the topping, and it macerates, and then you bake the thing. Not much standing, at least not for too long.
It’s also fun to say – kuchen, or “kooken,” and oh how I wish I spoke German. And while I wasn’t sure of it as an after-dinner treat, this kuchen would certainly be lovely with tea in the middle of the day if you were going to have company some Sunday afternoon. It’s not too sweet, with a coarse, bread-like crumb and slightly yeasty taste that was nice (but not what I was in the mood for post-pasta). You’ll want to serve it warm, ideally the day it’s made, but it does reheat well.
I’ve made minor adaptations to the Gourmet Today recipe, as I didn’t like the lemon in it and wanted a touch more vanilla. And while the Gourmet recipe calls for those cute little Italian prune plums, I am not ready to bid farewell to sweeter, muskier stone fruit just yet. In winter this would be nice with a whisper of cinnamon and topped with poached pears or thin slices of orange.
(Based on plum kuchen recipe from Gourmet Today, page 733; serves 8.)
- 1 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
- 2 tbsp. lukewarm water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup whole milk, warmed to about 110°F
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup butter, cut into tablespoons (room temperature)
- 1 lb. nectarines, pitted and sliced to between 1/4″ and 1/2″ thick
- Half of one vanilla bean, scraped
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
Butter a 9″x13″ baking pan.
In a small bowl, combine yeast and water and let stand until foamy, about five minutes.
In a large bowl, beat 1 3/4 cups flour, sugar, salt, milk, eggs, vanilla, and yeast mixture at medium-low until smooth. Add butter, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, sprinkle dough with remaining 1/4 cup of flour, and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Leave to rise somewhere warm for 45 to 60 minutes (until doubled in bulk).
Stir batter until flour is thoroughly mixed. Pour batter into prepared pan, cover, and let rise until doubled, another 45 to 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine nectarine slices with vanilla bean and brown sugar. Toss to coat, and let stand at room temperature, about one hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Drain liquid from nectarines, and arrange nectarine slices over top of dough. They can overlap. Bake until cake is golden and fruit is tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream.