Four years ago right now, Malcolm and I were driving a rather large moving van from Florida to Maine. First, we had to fly out of Mexico. We left the house we built on the beach in the care of Malcolm’s mom, said “hasta luego” to Olivia and Tripod, the street dogs we’d rescued along the way, and drove east.
We spent a few days in Cancun, trying to make sense of where we’d been and where we were going back to, slipping down dangerous water slides and letting the red-flag waves crash over our bodies, driving us into the sand. We floated in the pool and watched American television in the air conditioning. We were reprogramming ourselves for the voyage home.
Finally, it was time to board the plane. When we arrived in Tallahassee, to collect furniture from a storage space and make for our new home, an apartment we’d never seen in Portland’s West End, it was just as hot and swampy as the place we’d left south of the border. Downtown Tallahassee was deserted, and we ended up eating gas station barbeque (the best kind of barbeque) standing up in our room and later watching baseball at the hotel bar.
It was clear we were still strangers in a strange land. When we started driving north it was with the windows rolled down and Southern rock on the radio, a quintessentially American experience, exactly what we had hoped it would be. Scrubby trees, red earth, and billboards for the Waffle House for hundreds of miles. In Georgia, we could smell the peaches before we saw them, and pulled over to the side of the road. We filled a brown bag with fuzzy, baseball-sized, juicy stone fruit from a stand, and ate them all the way to Washington, D.C. We strolled the cobbled streets of Charleston, sweated up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial, and ate our favorite Chinese takeout in a room at the Omni Hotel in our college town.
Everything was the same, and everything was different. This recipe recalls one leg of our journey, a time in our lives when we felt hopeful and free.
Peaches and Cream Coffee Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8 x 8 pan.In a large bowl whisk together dry ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Lower speed and add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the batter and add vanilla and sour cream. Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. In a small bowl use a fork to combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Add half the batter to the pan, then a layer of sliced peaches, half the brown sugar/cinnamon, and repeat. Top with chopped walnuts. Bake 45-50 minutes.