Eight years ago, this blog (originally named “Oven of Happiness”) started as a cathartic experiment. I was in dire need of a creative outlet and a distraction. I’d quit my full-time job to become a caretaker and baking became my refuge.
At the time, I also was assigned to teach Sunday school to the teenagers in my congregation. Each week, I’d find a new recipe, bake a batch or two (or three), and fill a big Tupperware bin. I’d walk into church with my lesson plan and a copious amount of baked goods tucked under my arm each Sunday morning, excited to get gracious feedback from my eager group of taste-testers.
After trying out new treats on myself and my students, I’d take some photos and post the new recipe here on my blog if I deemed it successful enough to share. My little blog began to fill up with dozens of sweet recipes.
As time went on, other members of my congregation began to realize that I was always carrying cookies, scones, or muffins with me every week and I developed a little “following,” if you will. I started trying more recipes and packing “extras” in treat boxes for my friends and their families, who’d eye my Tupperware bin of baked goods each and every Sunday.
One Saturday night, while I was looking particularly exhausted and distraught in my parent’s disaster of a kitchen, my dad put his arm around me and said, “you know, you can start filling your Tupperware with vegetables.” We both laughed at his remark, but I knew he was (in so many words) saying, “Stephanie, you don’t have to make these yummy treats for people to like you.”
I got ready for bed that night, emotionally and physically spent. As I brushed my teeth, I read the words I’d written on a small piece of paper and taped to the bathroom mirror:
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” (Julia Child)
I continued baking and dropping off treats to my church family — yes, because it’s one of the primary ways I express love for others, but also because it helped me channel my anxious energy in a positive way.
When I feel helpless, I find an incredible amount of comfort in baking a batch of scones or cookies and dropping them off to a friend. I know baked goods can’t solve your problems for you, but they sure can cushion a blow.
One of my very favorite things to make is Apple Crostata. I laughingly describe it as “the delicious love child of an apple pie and a cobbler.”
I made it dozens of times back when I was baking every day, working through tough emotions while mixing batter, wiping away tears while kneading dough — but I hadn’t made one in years until this summer.
We had an abundance of ripe peaches sitting on our countertop earlier this week and I thought to myself, “Dang. I bet those would taste amazing in a Crostata.”
So I went and reviewed my original recipe, looked up some new ones, and made a happy (and delicious) marriage of Ina Garten’s Apple Crostata recipe (my favorite) and a few Peach Crostata ones I found online.
I hope it brings some much needed sweetness to your everyday. If you want to give someone a big hug in the form of a baked good, I swear this will do the trick. 🧡
For the pastry (makes 2)
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, cubed
For the filling (makes 1)
4 peaches, peeled and sliced
Zest of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
- For the pastry, place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on stir or low speed until combined. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. With the mixer running, add 1/4 cup of ice water. Keep mixing to combine, but stop the mixer just before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and form into 2 disks. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate one of the disks for at least an hour. Freeze the rest of the pastry for another time.
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- Boil 6 cups of water. Add whole peaches to boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds and then remove. Place into an ice bath for at least one minute. Peel skin off of peaches, pit, and slice thinly. Pat dry.
- Place sliced peaches on rolled-out pastry in a circle.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub it with your fingers until it starts holding together. Sprinkle evenly on the peaches. Gently fold the border over the apples, pleating it to make a circle.
- Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let the crostata cool for 5 minutes, then use 2 large spatulas to transfer it to a wire rack.
This post was written as part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to read the next post in this series “The Story of a Recipe”.