Alis Volat Propriis

She flies with her own wings. It’s the Oregon state motto, and I happened upon it the other day, or rather, the other very wee hour of the morning when my mind was having another conversation with itself. These conversation go something like this: Me: “HOLY CRAP!!! This is REALLY going to happen…are you NUTS to pick up and move way the hell out there??!! The somewhat saner, calmer me, at that moment: OK, get a grip and suck it up cupcake. Yes, it’s happening, it’s going to be fine, maybe even great. And since it’s too far gone to reign this puppy in anymore, what have you got to lose? GO FOR IT!!  Then I reach over to the laptop and enter the land of Google to learn yet another wonderful thing about the new world I’m about to enter. That’s how I came upon Alis Volat Propriis and it’s translation from the Latin, ‘She flies with her own wings’. Ironically appropriate, huh?

In two days I leave my beloved city and point car hood westward. This she is flying with her own wings to new adventures, in new ovens, and new shoes. And while I’ll be writing my goodbye letter to my fair city soon, now is not the time to be sentimental. Now is the time to focus on this new adventure. I’ll lament bagels and pizzas lost another time.

It’s funny. I keep hearing how brave I am to do this, you know, change my life completely thing. And I’m not pooh-poohing any of that.  It’s exactly what I’d tell someone doing it, so I suppose I am brave too. It’s just hard to own that when you are smack in the midst of it. Your own courage is something viewed in hindsight. So while I’m not exactly comfortable with brave, even I have to admit I’m making a pretty ballsy move. Ballsy I can do. Ballsy is genetic. My father moved to a new country, so did my grandfather. And the ballsiest of all was my grandmother. She was the youngest when she did it, nineteen, and didn’t even know the language. So I figure I’ll be in pretty good company on my move on Friday. And don’t worry, I won’t leave you all behind. You can come too, in fact, I’m counting on it.

So keep an eye out for a few reports from the road. I’m not sure there’ll be recipes, but there will be interesting things to see and share. Because there’s always plenty of room on my wings for friends…

These wooden swallows hung in my grandmother's kitchen, and now they hang in mine

These wooden swallows hung in my grandmother’s kitchen for as long as I can remember. They now nest in mine.

This will probably be my last recipe for a few weeks, so I’m going with a family favorite — Summer Peach Cake. Naturally, the recipe is one of my grandmother’s and I share it in honor of her flight on those nineteen year old wings so many years ago. There were two versions of this cake we could always count on over the summer. In June it was made with peaches, and in late August, damson plums. The base is a muerbeteig, or short crust dough. No matter where I am, East Coast or West, this cake is truly home to me. So as soon as Oma’s swallows go up on my new kitchen wall, this cake will be christening my oven.

Summer Peach Cake (Pfirsiche Torte)

Makes two 9” cakes

For the peaches:

  • 4 lbs peaches, halved, and each half cut into 4 pieces (total 8 slices per peach)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch salt

Cut up the peaches and toss in the cinnamon sugar. Let sit for up to 30 minutes while you make the dough

For the dough (muerbeteig)

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • ½ cup crushed amaretti cookies or other almond cookie

Preheat oven to 350°F.

My mother and my grandmother would never think of making a muerbeteig in a food processor, and instead would mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, then pour out onto a board and mix in the other ingredients until a dough comes together. Since I have no problem doing this all in the food processor (and I’m guessing neither would you), here’s the process:

Add the flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Toss in the chilled butter cubes and pulse about a minutes until the butter is about the size of peas. Beat the egg, then add into the food processor while running. Add the lemon juice and run processor until the dough just starts to come together. If it needs more moisture, add a little water, a teaspoon at a time. It shouldn’t be a ball, just hold together when you pinch it. You don’t want to over mix it.

Divide the dough between two cake pans and press out firmly to fill pan. Sprinkle cookie crumbs over the dough, then lay out the peaches “snazzily” (that is how the recipe is written, I swear) in concentric circles in the round cake pans.

Bake for 25 minutes to start, then keep checking the peaches every 5 minutes – when they are soft, the tart is done.

If you want to do a quick glaze over the finished tart, use ¼-1/2 cup apricot jam heated with a little water, strained. Brush over warm cake.

Calories: approximately 250 per slice.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button). Thanks! 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Alis Volat Propriis

  1. I am with Mark – mid-life epiphany! How many people are lucky enough to be able to do this? Enjoy the ride (and drive safely during it!)… Love the summer peach cake – must try that. Peach season continues here in the Old Pueblo…

  2. The Big Move isn’t so much crazy or even a midlife crisis, as it is a well-calculated mid-life epiphany! So excited for you. Now you’ve whetted our appetite for hearing more of your family story… perhaps matched up to some favorite family recipes? But not until you’ve had a chance to unpack and unfurl in your new home!

  3. Beautiful post Karin and recipe of course……..I bet those wood swallows symbolized something similar to your grandmother – when she took wing to the U.S., my grandmother did the same thing at about the same age as your grandmother – oh those Gottscheer girls were gutsy…still are 🙂 Safe travels to your new home XXXX

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