Peach and Cherry Cake Squares
When I was little, and there were no supermarkets around, we would buy our stock of weekly fruit (which was usually a lot) from Amitabh Bachchan. He had the best stall in the area. And a manner so like the veteran actor, that I don’t think anyone even bothered to ask him his name. He would call out to you even on a non-fruit-buying day, and get you to caress the plumpest custard apple you had ever seen, or lure you with freshly shelled pomegranate. He stocked strawberries and peaches at a time when they weren’t very popular, and claimed to be the only guy in town to have seedless papaya at his stall. He addressed you like your long-lost paternal uncle would, and gave you a slice of gorgeous papaya as a going-away gift. All this, while discussing global warming and fruit politics with my mum.
I looked at him in awe. Imagine having 24/7 access to all that lovely fruit! My brother and I were always spoilt for choice, and he picked his favorites while I got to pick mine. We would then help Amma load all the fruit into an autorickshaw and dream impatiently about when it would reach the fridge at home, and when we’d get to sink our teeth into chilled fruit.
All of us have a special love for stone fruit—peaches, apricots, cherries (oh, cherries) plums, and as far as I am concerned, even litchis/lychees. We love them by themselves, we love them in desserts, and we love imagining picking them on that one great holiday. So come June, my fridge and my fruit basket are stocked with two batches of stone fruit—one batch chilling in the fridge; the other, slightly unripe batch, sitting on my table and sunning itself to ripeness.
Today, I was desperate for a stone fruit dessert. Something like this or this or this. But I didn’t have the patience. So at the supermarket, I bought a pack of (cowering) vanilla cake mix, came home, didn’t even take off my chappals, cranked up the old oven, mixed the mix, and threw in some peaches and cherries and grated some cinnamon (why don’t I have one of those cherry pitting gadgets?). Waited impatiently for the thing to get done, cut out a hot square as soon as the oven ting-ed, and shoved a spoonful of steam-bellowing stone fruit goodness in my mouth, just like Nigella. And it felt so good.
So that’s the recipe today—follow your childhood memories, and allow yourself some leniency.