Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sophie's 21st Birthday Extravaganza + Mini Peach Upside Down Cakes

This past Saturday was my 21st birthday. Tres exciting, though I have little to no interest in alcohol for the following reasons:
1) Family history of alcoholism. In the past, various people would offer me various alcoholic drinks to see if I liked them but upon tasting them I would immediately think, “Mm, this tastes like sadness and betrayal.” Besides my deep-set associations with alcohol (or perhaps because of) I just don’t like how 99% of alcoholic beverages taste*.
* One of the few exceptions to this rule is amaretto, because it tastes like cookies. I think you’d go into a diabetic coma before getting drunk off of amaretto but I do like the taste.
2) Four fun words: gastroesophageal reflux disease. Oh wait, that’s 3 words. I’ve had GERD since I was a wee one and it basically means that the stomach acid that is supposed to stay in my stomach and digest food climbs up my throat into my esophagus and tries to digest my throat as well. I imagine the acid as kind of a Gollum character, where I claw at my throat and yell, “BACK! BACK WHERE YOU BELONG!” and the Gollum-acid snarls, “I wants it, I must have the precioussssss.” The precious being, apparently, the delicious sweet and tender flesh of my esophagus.

The Gollum-acid is mostly subdued by my pills, but technically I’m supposed to abstain from a variety of fun things that irritate my condition/Gollum. These things include citrus fruits, chocolate, caffeine, spicy foods, cigarettes and, yes, alcohol. For the large part, I ignore all that (sans cigarettes) and laugh heartily at my doctor while I eat meals of oranges, chocolate, tea and curries. Obviously not mixed together. But alcohol does truly seem to rip apart my digestive system, even small amounts leave me huddled in pain and nausea as my stomach seemingly tries to escape from my body.

So obviously, I very rarely have been tempted to drink. Which is why it was a bad idea to succumb to peer pressure and get dragged to a bar at midnight on my 21st birthday. BJ was at the house when Joe and I got back from a Jewish Orthodox Shabbot (more on that in another entry) with a few people and it was decided that we would all go to the local bar to celebrate my birthday. Various people bought me shots. After I took the first one, BJ turned to me and said cheerfully, “Cheers! Bye, Sophie! See you in a couple days!”

Which is fairly accurate. I’m a small gal, 5’0, and my alcohol threshold is pretty miniscule. So 4 shots and 45 minutes later I was stumbling around, hugging everybody and telling them how much I adored them, despite the fact that normally touching people gives me the heebie jeebies. “I loooooove you, Brian. I loooooove you, Sam. I looooove you, girl whose name I don’t know. Group hug!”

Glasses Crew! I'm on the far right. Despite what this picture implies, I don't know the other two too well. Um..

And then I went to bed.

I walked out of my room the next morning, one eye squinted shut, right as BJ was saying to Joe, “How’s Sophie doing?” He took one look at me and laughed, to which I said, “Why is your voice so loud?” I spent the next several hours in a fetal postion, laying very still while my internal organs screamed, “WHY? WHY?”

Joe eventually forced some soup and mint tea into me and I felt much better afterward, though I never want to see alcohol ever again. We had dinner at one of our favorite restaurant and shared a delicious meal. Except we over estimated the amount of food and ended up having no room for dessert. Bummer. With no birthday cake at home, my birthday seemed incomplete.

Sunday I planned to make my own birthday cake. I had the recipe picked out and the oven preheated when my best friend called me to meet me downstairs, where she gave me two dozen cupcakes. Aww. Obviously I didn’t need more desserts so I pushed the recipe aside, but still itching to make cake.

Katie made me cupcakes!

Tuesday I finally had my chance. I settled on peach upside down mini cakes, as I happened to have a few peaches lying around. I have this thing with peaches though. I love the flavor but apparently I’m a total failure at picking good peaches, which makes me sad because I usually pride myself in picking good fruit. But a lot of the time, the peaches I pick are mealy, mushy and tasteless on the inside. What gives, devil peaches? Stop sucking.

So lo and behold, 3 out of the 4 peaches I bought were of the mealy, mushy, tasteless variety, which really slayed me. The first peach I cut was perfect. The next sucked. No problem, I thought, I have backups. And then the backup sucked. And the backup to the backup sucked. I had a small peach graveyard by the time I was done and I wanted to die or murder a peach tree.
Luckily, the one gloriously unsucky peach I had stretched to fill 3 ramekins. One of the peaches didn’t suck quite as much as it’s loser cousins and I managed to get a couple slices for the 4th cake but that one would just have to be stingy on the peaches.

No candles but it was my birthday cake, GOT IT?

They were delicious, even the stingy one. I thought the cake bit could be improved upon some but that may have been my fault: the last second I realized I had forgot to add the sugar and had to add it after I had mixed everything else. It wasn’t bad by any means though, and the topping was delicious. Thank you, one unsucky peach. I also think it would be good with pears, but I kind of think anything would be good with pears. Nectarines, peaches less finicky cousin, would also be good here.

Recipe from Alton Brown, Food TV


3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 medium peaches, peeled
1-ounce finely chopped crystallized ginger, approximately 3 tablespoons
2.5 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 1/2 cup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving, optional


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Divide 2 tablespoons of the butter between 4 (6-ounce) ramekins. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and set aside. Evenly divide the brown sugar between the ramekins; sprinkling it into the bottoms of the dishes. Cut each peach into 12 to 14 pieces. Lay the peaches on top of the sugar; evenly dividing them between the dishes and sprinkle with the ginger. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the sugar, buttermilk, vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir just until combine. Pour the batter over the peaches; dividing the mixture evenly between the dishes. Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake reaches an internal temperature of 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove from the oven to a rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of each dish and turn upside down onto a serving plate. Repeat with each cake. Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.


The only thing I did differently was leave out the ginger, since we didn't have any and I'm not a huge fan anyway. I sprinkled cinnamon on top of the peach slices instead. I thought it was plenty sweet without whipped cream or ice cream but I wouldn't have served them with either anyways, since I don't like them. I know, what? Who doesn't like ice cream? Just leave it be, my dislike for ice cream is probably the sole reason why I'm not 300 lbs... yet.

1 comment:

Katie said...

My cupcakes look very sad on film, I need to work on my presentation skills.
PS: You should probably be a nursing prof and teach newbies about golem-GERD. Very descriptive :)