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Whip up a summer cake that takes no baking

Recipe: Peaches and cookies chill in a cool treat

Cool and creamy, this peach icebox cake features ginger snaps as the "cake" base. But other cookies can be used -- other fruit, too.

Cool and creamy, this peach icebox cake features ginger snaps as the "cake" base. But other cookies can be used -- other fruit, too.

Kathy Morrison

Today we're going to channel the Sacramentans who had to live through the heat of summer before air conditioning or modern refrigerators were invented. They didn't want to turn on their ovens, either. 

Peaches and ginger snaps complement each other.

One of their solutions to dessert was the icebox cake, named for the literal icebox that kept the most perishable foods cool, at least as long as the ice lasted. According to the Smithsonian, "By the end of the 1800s, many American households stored their perishable food in an insulated 'icebox' that was usually made of wood and lined with tin or zinc." Electric refrigerators started replacing iceboxes in the 1930s.

But an icebox cake sounded so refreshing on this stifling weekend. Cream, cookies and fruit when chilled together make an easy and cool summer dessert.

Freestone peaches finally are plentiful, so that was my choice for fruit, but any juicy fruit such as cherries, strawberries, plums, pluots or nectarines (or a combination) would work in an icebox cake.

Actually, icebox cakes can be made with just the cookies and whipped cream -- anything else is up to the maker. I chose ginger snaps for the cookies, but any flat cookie or wafer works. (Nabisco has discontinued making their famous chocolate wafers, but you might be able find a substitute, if you want to use chocolate with cherries, for example.)

So stack up the ingredients, chill, unmold -- and enjoy! No need to add to our already plentiful heat.

Peachy icebox cake

Serves 8


Set cookies into the whipped cream.

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

6 to 8 ounces of flat cookies: ginger snaps, Biscoff cookies, shortbread or similar wafers

2 large peaches, preferably freestone, plus 1 more for garnish, peeled if too fuzzy


Prepare a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan by lining it with plastic wrap, crossing two pieces of wrap that extend a few inches over each side.

Whip the cream with the confectioner’s sugar until the cream forms firm peaks. (Not too whipped, though -- you'll get something like butter!) Pit two of the peaches and cut into slices about ½-inch thick (or less, depending on the size – keep the slices all about the same thickness).

Carefully spread about one-fourth of the whipped cream across the bottom of the loaf pan. Place a single layer of ginger snaps into the cream without overlapping the cookies. (That took 8 of the cookies I was using.) Note: Broken cookies are just fine to use, especially when filling in holes. No one will see that they’re broken when the cake is served.

Spread a thin layer of the whipped cream over the cookies. Layer half the peach slices over the cream.

Repeat with cream, cookies, cream, peaches and the last of cream. Press one final layer of cookies into that cream, and loosely cover the top with more plastic wrap or a piece of foil.

Refrigerate several hours — overnight is best.

When ready to serve, uncover the loaf pan and invert a serving plate on top. To unmold, flip the pan onto the serving plate and carefully peel the plastic wrap off the icebox cake.

The cookies are pleasantly soft after chilling.

Garnish cake with peach slices and cookie crumbs, then slice and serve.

Note: If desired, skip the plastic wrap lining in the pan. Then rather than unmolding, scoop out the cake into bowls for serving.


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For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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