Monday, September 27, 2010

Word Nerdery, And Peach-Cardamom Loaf

You know, for a positive, optimistic person, I certainly have a long list of things I don't like. Bananas (texture issues.) Kevin Costner (wooden acting abilities.) Bus rides during rush hour (overwhelming people musk, rudeness, confined spaces.) Also: seafood, irony, jodhpurs, elevators, indigestion, Mel Gibson, crowds, multi-tasking and eggplants.

In addition to things I don't like, I have a fairly strong aversion to particular words. It seems that the arrangement of certain letters creates unpleasant sounds or associations in my mind, and I am embarrassed to say them. Pantaloons. Bloomers. The word 'wiener' used in earnest; also, frankfurter. Panties. Macaroni. Pumping. Pumpernickel.

But the ultimate offender?


The fact that this word is used so often when describing baked goods troubles me deeply. Because there is NO alternative. In a world virtually clogged with choice, there is no other option for describing moistness. Believe me, I've tried. But saying a muffin is tender, juicy, damp-in-a-good-way, wet-ish, soft, undry, uncrumbly just doesn't work.

So I don't really have a good adjective for the texture of this Peach Cardamom loaf. Because despite all the luscious peaches involved, it fell somewhere in between the 'M' word and dry. I adapted the recipe from Whole Living magazine, and all I can surmise is that there was simply not enough fat or liquid in the batter. Where else could I have gone wrong?

I started off here:

Then did this:

Then I got down to business, mixed the dry ingredients with the wet, and ended up with this:

Which then went here:

And ended up like this:

It all looks so promising, no? And yet...decidedly not as juicy/undry/tender as I'd anticipated. But lest you get the wrong impression, I've eaten almost the entire thing. I sneak slivers while I'm waiting for my toast to pop, or cut large hunks off for lunch. I've eaten it plain and with butter. I've eaten it warm and cold. And the fact remains that this loaf is actually good and totally worth perfecting.

Let's just say it's still a word in progress.

Peach-Cardamom Loaf, adapted from Whole Living Magazine, September 2010:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
6 tbsp butter (use 1/2 cup! Trust me)
6 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup honey (next time I'll use a 1/2 cup and cut down on the brown sugar.)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup applesauce
4-5 ripe peaches, cut into smallish cubes


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9 inch loaf pan. In medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar till fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the honey and beat till combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and the vanilla extract and beat till incorporated.

3. With the mixer on low, add half the flour mixture and beat till just combined. Beat in the applesauce and remaining flour mixture till just combined. Fold in the cubed peaches and transfer the batter to the loaf pan. Bake till testing knife comes out clean, approximately 50-60 minutes, depending on your oven. Transfer to wire rack and let cool completely. Then slice and serve.


  1. wow sounds like an interesting combination of flavors.

    I can handle "moist", but the one word that gets me for some reason is "belly"

  2. Adam, I won't lie; this recipe needs some tweaking, but I've got a bag full of ripe pears just asking to be the next version of this loaf.

    Belly. That reminds me of 'birth', another word I can't dance to the tune of. Fortunately, the list of words I love is exponentially longer!

  3. Can't wait till the weather cools down again. I need to get with fall baking. Specifically pears. Looks great!

  4. You're still having warm weather? I'm jealous, and entirely not ready to let go of summer yet...But fall colours and baking and cozy sweaters make it better!

    Can't wait to see what magic you bake with those pears!

  5. i am in love with this loaf! peaches, CARADOMON, honey .. you just won my heart! :) i bet it would be really good with apples too!

  6. Leslie, it's worth the love! It actually started out as an apple-spice loaf too! And I think honey is my new favourite thing - we got beautiful jars of it in Chatsworth from local honey farms and I'm almost all out!