Using What’s at Hand: A Recipe for Peach Pecan Quick Bread

As many of you now know, I’m making progress in my goal to reduce and eventually kick the habit of smoking out of my life. In the interest of breaking patterns of behavior, I’m filling my time with other creative tasks.

Cooking and baking have always been a fun way for me to both create and nurture those around me. Lately, the skills I’ve acquired have been helpful in keeping me occupied when I would normally go out for a smoke.

This recipe came about rather suddenly this afternoon. I was standing in my kitchen, every atom of my being itching for nicotine. In the fruit basket on the counter were five peaches from the local market that had seen their prime come and go. I knew there was also a can of peaches somewhere in the cave that passes for a pantry, and I had all the dry staples I would require.  So, I rolled up my sleeves and set to–the results turned out to be spectacular.

 

Falling Back on Old Favorites

Quick breads are those that rely on baking soda or powder for their rising agents. These are also called souring agents, and many cultures have varieties that use salt or vinegar as a way to spur the rising process.

The quick breads that are popular in my family happen to be of the sweet variety–carrot-pineapple, zucchini, applesauce, or banana. They’re suitable for desert, but usually also incorporate some form of nutrition, making them hearty snack food, as well.
I’ve made these frequently over the years, and come to appreciate their versatile, accommodating nature. Even someone as averse to precise measurements and directions can make these successfully.  I will note that practice makes perfect.

As with many of my favorite recipes, I diverge from the printed path and create based on “feel.” You get a sense for what will turn out well the more often you go through the process.  Yes, I’ve had my share of colossal messes, but that was usually the result of my bakeware being too small to accommodate the expansion of the batter in the oven. It happened, and I learned to go with unconventional, but larger, cookware options.

For this recipe, I recommend a tube pan with the removable insert, which you can see in the pictures I’m including. If you lack one of these, just be creative. A 13×9 glass baking dish, a 9 inch casserole round with lovely, high sides, or at extremity, a bunt pan will serve just as well.

Follow your taste and trust your instincts. But don’t fear the butter–it greases a pan better than any cooking spray ever will, and you won’t need much.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 c all purpose flour
  • 3.5 tsp baking powder
  • .5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1+ tsp ground ginger (use your tastes as a guide for spices)
  • .5 c (you can use up to 1 cup, based on preference, but the peaches are sweet) sugar
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 can peach slices in juice
  • 4-5 small, overripe peaches
  • 1 c pecans, roughly chopped, plus a few to break and sprinkle on top

Instructions:

  1. Have all your ingredients at room temperature (approximately 75 degrees Fahrenheit) and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter your tube pan all the way up the sides, being sure to grease the central column well.
  3. Drain your can of peaches, reserving the liquid to add to the wet ingredients bowl. Mash the peach slices thoroughly (use a fork or a pastry cutter) and mix with oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a giant bowl (Beat the crap out of it with a fork.)
  4. Carefully slice one peach into 1/2 inch sections, setting aside for later. Wash, peel, and squish into pulp the remaining fresh peaches, adding them to your wet ingredients.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine all your dry ingredients, including pecans. Mix thoroughly. Add this in thirds to your wet bowl, mixing well after each addition. (This ensures no lumps of flour in your finished bread-cake.)
  6. Once all is mixed well, carefully pour/glop into your tube pan, scraping the sides with fingers, spoon, or spatula. Smooth and level the batter in the pan.
  7. Arrange the reserved peach slices and crumble some pecans over the top.
  8. Bake for 60 minutes. You may cool it completely in the pan or remove the central insert and cake after 10 minutes. (However, finish cooling it on the wrack before cutting and serving. It actually becomes sweeter as it cools.) 
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