"I just really feel like I need chips."
"No you DON'T need them, don't go get chips. They're just empty calories."
They ping pong-ed this deal or no deal chip thing for a straight 5 minutes. (Straight face emoji.)
Boy and girl, close friends but not dating, sitting at the table next to us. We might as well have reserved a table together we were that close. Fun and obnoxious, he had big curly hair and kept commenting on how Mexican food without chips was just wrong. She was in a strapless black dress, beautiful and very carb conscious.
I kept looking at our basket of chips.
John and I were starving and at this dive of a Mexican place you didn't get chips for free, you had to pay a couple bucks extra. I thought considering our starvation level, the chips would be a good move.
But I can tell you it's pretty uncomfortable having someone right next to you say how much they want something when you have it and they don't.
"Here," I said smiling at him and pushing the basket onto his table, "Please have some of our chips!"
Laughing and shaking his head, "Oh no, I couldn't possibly do that."
"No please, I insist. We could never eat all these empty calories by ourselves and you would really be doing me a favor because then you would stop talking about how much you want chips." I winked.
They were younger than me and John. Early twenties, fresh faced and talking about the oddities of Los Angeles.
Over chips and salsa they told me they had just moved here from New York City.
"What are your plans?" We asked them.
"Not really sure." They both said.
No real set plans. They just craved something unfamiliar and new.
After we finished our meals and parted ways and John and I commented on how "when we were that age" we were ready for something new too... I was in London while he was in Brazil and we both ended up going to university out of state.
The sense of adventure one has when first leaving the nest should never be quenched.
I believe in that.
And I'm not talking an expensive trip or moving across the country like my New York chip-loving friends, (that's all grand though), I am more talking about the times when we leave our work for a moment, when we put down our phones, walk away from our computers and just go on a drive with no particular destination.
Those moments of adventure-seeking ring in a lot of clarity, and for me it's been clarity about career changes and coming up with some big plan B's... and while there are still times I feel a little lost, it's all okay.
Because as I was reminded upon meeting two strangers at lunch, some times it takes some getting lost in order to be found. xo
Gooey Caramel Upside Down Peach Cake
adapted from the great David Lebovit, serves 8-10
This cake is for John, my best friend, husband and peach loving confidant. A cake for him, because getting lost with him is the best adventure of all.
Bakers note: I find that the sole purpose of this cake is to savor that caramelized bubbling brown sugar and peach topping. For that alone the cake batter is not overly sweet so the mix of the top and bottom is balanced bite after bite.
I mix spelt flour with all-purpose flour to yield an incredibly tender almost wholesome crumb. Spelt four mixed with all-purpose is my first choice but if you don't have it, using all unbleached all-purpose flour will do. This is insane with high quality vanilla ice cream. (So far, nothing beats McConnells.)
3 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
¾ cup / 150g light brown sugar
5 organic peaches / 730g, sliced thick (like 3/4-inch thick, you can peel yours if you like but I didn't bother to peel mine)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons / 1 stick / 113g unsalted organic butter, softened
½ cup / 100g organic non-refined sugar (I love wholesome)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 organic eggs, room temperature
1 cup / 125g organic spelt flour
½ cup / 65g unbleached, all purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder, aluminum-free
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup / 125ml buttermilk, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon juice (a little more or a little less is okay)
1 teaspoon unpacked lemon zest (roughly, use the zest from one lemon)
Special Equipment: 10 inch / 25cm un-greased cake pan and an electric mixer. Make sure you don't use a spring form pan or else the topping will leak out.
Preheat oven to 350° F / 180° C.
Beat 8 tablespoons of butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 5-7 mins.
While butter and sugar blend, slice all of your peaches and set aside.
Beat in vanilla, then the eggs one at a time to the butter sugar mixture.
In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, and salt together. Add half of the dry ingredients into the egg/butter/sugar batter. Then add half of the buttermilk. Then add in the rest of the dry ingredients followed by the rest of the buttermilk until just combined. Try not to over mix.
Place 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, ½ teaspoon salt and the light brown sugar in your cake pan and place it in the oven for 5 minutes to melt. Melt until bubbly, and remove pan from oven. Place slices peaches over bubbling sugar. Pack them in there, don't be shy and don't form a perfect single layer. Double those peach slices up in spots and like I said, pack them in!
Pour the batter over the peaches, spreading it around to nooks and crannies in the fruit. Bake 40-45 minutes or until the edges of the cake pull from the sides and the center lightly browned and not wet.
Take the pan out of the oven and let cool 5 minutes before flipping.
To serve: Flip the cake onto a parchment lined plate. It’s best to do this by placing the plate on top of the hot cake pan, and while wearing oven mitts, flipping over. The cake will release no problem, but beware of loose caramelized sugar that could both burn you and make a mess. Flip with caution. I find it best to cut out a circle of parchment paper and leave that on the plate before flipping so it can catch all of that melted caramel goodness.
Serve warm or at room temperature with a touch of creme fraiche or vanilla ice cream. Best served the day it's made but it is delicious the next morning room temp. for breakfast.