Be a Hedgehog, Not a Fox [Thyme-Poached Peach, Olive Oil and Cornmeal Cake]

So there’s this new concept about focus and achievement I’ve come across  called the Hedgehog Concept.

The fox spends all its time trying to figure out different ways to get at the hedgehog — maybe digging, jumping, hiding, etc., etc. The fox is like the person who can’t make up their mind — the person who searches for the upper hand by turning to new fields over and over again. A jack of all trades and master of none.

Where the fox is unsure, the hedgehog knows just what to do. Every time it rolls up into a tight, spiky ball and this is always effective. The hedgehog knows what it is, what to do and keeps doing it with success time and time again.

Tortoises and hares. Foxes and hedgehogs. Peaches and corn.

Pick something and get good at it.

The crumb of this not-too-sweet cake has a slight firmness from the cornmeal.

Thyme-Poached Peach, Olive Oil and Cornmeal Cake

For the thyme-poached peaches:
*recipe by Laura Calder

1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp mild honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 sprigs thyme
4-6 peaches
salt, to taste

Put everything but the peaches in a saucepan large enough to hold the peaches in one layer. Pour over about 4 cups/1 litre water — enough to cover the peaches basically (but don’t put the peaches in yet).

Bring water to a boil and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Score an “x” on the bottom end of the peaches. This will help with peeling their skins.

Uncover the pot, add the peaches, and simmer five to ten minutes, until tender to a fork. Remove the peaches with a slotted spoon to a serving dish, peeling off their skins. When cool enough to handle, slice into wedges.

Meanwhile, boil the liquid down until 1/2 cup of syrup remains. Season to taste with salt. Reserve.

For the cake and assembly:

thyme-poached peaches, sliced (see above)
1/4 cup peach and thyme syrup (see above)
5 egg yolks
3 egg whites
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
leaves from two sprigs of thyme
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan. Line with parchment. Grease the parchment.

Arrange peach wedges in the bottom of the pan. Pour peach syrup over them.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, egg whites, olive oil, sugar, milk, vanilla, lemon zest and salt.

Combine flour, cornmeal and baking powder in a separate bowl.

Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Stir in the lemon juice.

Gently pour into the prepared pan on top of the peaches.

Bake 1 hour 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.


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