One of my favorite cookbooks features recipes from all the little community cookbooks that are published by various organizations in towns and cities across the country. I found this delicious cake recipe years ago in the cookbook I speak of, and love making it — especially when I can get freshly picked peaches.
Titled “Hometown Collection,” the book’s introduction explains that in order to find the best recipes from each state, hundreds of these community cookbooks are collected. Cherished recipes from people like you and me are contributed to support a cause. Then over 1,000 recipes are chosen by “food experts” to be the best recipes. The cookbook editors go on to explain that these recipes are tested and rated by a staff of home economists, and the cream of the crop appear in the book.
A little about community cookbooks:
Community cookbooks date back well over 100 years. They are a very successful tool in fundraising for churches, schools, fire and police departments, hospital auxiliaries, and so many more groups and organizations.
I have four very special community cookbooks that have been given to me.
The first is from the Ladies Circle group of the Congregational Church in South Dennis on Cape Cod (My grandmother moved to Harwich in the early 1930s).
The book was first printed in 1937 with a second printing in 1992. To quote a paragraph in the foreword; “This little book shares recipes compared and tasted by the members of the Circle at their weekly meetings. It is designed to preserve and cherish some old recipes of this village. We have tried to keep the quaint old names and the flavor of the cookery for which the Cape is famous.”.
The second book was compiled in 1990 by the Ossipee Mountains Habitat for Humanity group in Wolfeboro, N.H., obviously for fundraising and contains some wonderful old New England recipes.
The third book was given to me by my aunt and uncle who lived in Alaska for more than 35 years. It is titled “Copper Country Collection: history and recipes from Kenny Lake, Alaska,” a community of Copper Center, Alaska. There are more than 450 recipes from community members who chose their favorite recipes for this cookbook. Some are traditional Alaska recipes such as a sourdough starter, dozens of salmon and halibut recipes, and recipes such as BBQ Moose Steaks, and Caribou Stew.
The fourth book is a collection of recipes by the Ladies Circle of the First Presbyterian Church in Worcester. My friend of many years, and church member, gave me this book as it includes several of her own recipes and some from her daughters, and members of her extended family who attend this church.
I grab this cookbook when I am looking for April’s recipe for Broccoli Salad with Raisins, or a great Pumpkin Pecan Cookie recipe I found in it. When this book was printed in 2003, she even included one of my own pasta recipes.
In conclusion, the recipe below for this Georgia Peach Cake comes from the community cookbook “Cooking up a Storm,”compiled by persons in an aerobics class in Lawrenceville, Georgia. I have no doubt that it is a treasured recipe from a member of that class.
Tip: Look for fresh peaches this month in local orchards, farmers markets, and farmstands. Let fully ripen in a brown paper bag on your counter. Try to use them before refrigerating; that is when the flavor is the best.
Georgia Peach Cake
Serves 6 to 8
cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca, uncooked
teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 large, fresh, ripe peaches, peeled and cut into half-inch thick slices
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
teaspoon baking soda
cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
teaspoons vanilla extract
cup all-purpose flour
teaspoon baking powder
Optional – Peach or vanilla ice cream
Make topping: Combine flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Cover and chill.
Peach mixture: In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, tapioca, and nutmeg; stir well. Stir in peaches and lemon juice. Cook uncovered, over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened and bubbly.
Spoon into a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Set aside and keep warm.
Make batter: Combine sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl, mix well. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes.
Beat softened butter until fluffy, gradually add sugar beating well. Beat in egg. Add sour cream mixture and vanilla, stirring until blended.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture. Mix at low speed with electric mixer just until blended. Spoon batter over warm peach mixture. Sprinkle topping mixture over batter.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream.
Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write care of Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930.