A Trip to the Texas Hill Country and Peach Butter Coffee Cake

You’ve been so patient with me on this post, and I appreciate it! It’s taken me way longer than I anticipated to get this together. I can give you excuses about how work is suddenly crazy and it seems as though my days evaporate faster than I realize – but I know I’m not alone with this feeling, so I’ll just shut up and get on with it.

Fredericksburg.

Early this year, I was trying to decide where we should go for a vacation. We needed to get away. Like so many, we cut expenses due to the economy, so we had not “vacationed” since early 2008. It was time! I didn’t wish to fly – while I’m not opposed to it, the whole airport/plane/flying thing is stressful and expensive. We were aiming for a relaxing, don’t-have-to-do-anything-we-don’t-want-to sort of vacation. We wanted relaxing and affordable. Besides, who doesn’t love a good road trip? Especially when that road trip is through some of the prettiest parts of Texas.

So Fredericksburg it was. Fredericksburg, if you’re not familiar, is an old German settlement built in the mid-1800s, about 70 miles west of Austin, in the middle of the Hill Country. It’s a great place to visit if you enjoy interesting Texas architecture (think old limestone buildings, cabins, and charm), great Texas and German food, a bit of shopping, but a lot of relaxing. And the landscape? So much more interesting than Dallas – I grew up with relatively flat land, grass, and some trees, but the Hill Country has lots of hills (duh), wildflowers in the spring, cactus, trees, the Pedernales river, and a lot of gorgeous rock. And the perfect way to enjoy it, in our minds, was to rent a cottage in the country for a few days.

We stayed in a small cottage built in the 1920s on a ranch with about 300 acres. We had everything we could want – a front porch swing, hot tub, a full kitchen – but with a wonderful country charm. It was the perfect relaxation spot. (Also the perfect spot to play with my camera – I took a lot of photos!)

When we weren’t enjoying our little place in the country, we visited places like Luckenbach, Texas. We also ate at a few amazing restaurants. (You didn’t think I would talk this whole time and not mention food, did you?) We visited August E’s, where we enjoyed an amazing upscale meal. For first course, my husband enjoyed a lobster bisque that he claimed was the best he’d ever eaten. I believe him, as his eyes did roll back a few times, and there was a significant amount of sighing and moans of pleasure while it was enjoyed! I ordered a lovely roasted beet salad with a citrus vinaigrette, topped with blue cheese. It was light and had a perfect balance of richness, sweetness, and tang from the citrus. Our main courses were no less spectacular. Hubby enjoyed a grass-fed ribeye with mascarpone whipped potatoes – his steak was one of the most flavorful, beefy steaks either of us have had. I had pan-seared escolar with sugar snap peas, carrots, and mascarpone whipped potatoes. The fish was light and subtly sweet – I savored every bite. And to my delight, they even offered a gluten-free dessert: a flourless chocolate torte. It was indeed chocolate-y – so rich, I could only eat a few bites, but it was satisfying and a perfect end to the meal.

We also enjoyed a lovely brunch at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm. This was a lovely farm that had a large variety of herbs, both for sale and for use in their kitchen. After touring the farm, we were seated on the deck to enjoy brunch. With the birds chirping, a breeze, and bountiful sunlight, we enjoyed coffee, and my husband enjoyed another steak (he’s a steak kinda guy, and hey, this is vacation), this time tenderloin, along with fried eggs and toast. I savored a spinach, goat cheese, and locally-grown herb frittata. What more could one want?

Nothing, except to take advantage of a full kitchen. I made eggs most mornings, but I was prepared – I packed gluten-free flours and other baking necessities for our trip. So I decided one morning to whip up a breakfast treat – coffee cake. On our drive in, we stopped at a fruit and plant stand, and I found a jar of local peach butter. It begged to be used in a creative recipe, so I subbed it for the apple butter in this coffee cake. What emerged from the oven was a heavenly-scented coffee cake with a lightly crispy streudel topping. It was the perfect breakfast treat.

Peach Butter Coffee Cake, adapted from Grouprecipes.com

1/2 c butter

1 1/2 c gluten-free flour blend (I used a blend of 3 parts sweet white rice flour, 1 part tapioca starch, 1 part cornstarch)

1 t xanthan gum

3/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar

1 t baking soda

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t salt

1 t vanilla

1 c peach butter (you can, of course, substitute apple butter)

1 egg

1/2 c raisins

For the topping:

1/4 c sugar

1/4 c firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/4 c gluten-free flour blend

1/4 t cinnamon

1/4 c butter, softened

1/2 c chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9-inch cake pan.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in saucepan. Remove from heat and add gluten-free flour blend, xanthan gum, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and stir. Then add in vanilla, peach butter, egg, and raisins and mix well. Pour batter into greased cake pan.

Combine the streusel topping ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and sprinkle on top of batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly, and serve with coffee.

Serves 8.

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We even discussed visiting our little cottage again in the future – it was the perfect getaway.

Comments

  1. says

    yes, I’ve been there, to the hill country, not the cabin and love the area and the varying foods – it seems removed from much of what I think of Texas, as in the Alamo and tacos

  2. says

    Sounds like the perfect quite getaway! I could use one of those myself…The coffee cake looks really wonderful. I like the addition of the peach butter. Yum!

  3. says

    That place looked amazing! I would love to go somewhere like that. And all the food sounds heavenly! Especially that cake! This reminds me that I haven’t eaten lunch and I am hungry!

  4. says

    I am going to have to try this Alta! Delicious! I have to say that giving a few looks at your Texas pics make me miss it a tad bit, just a tad. ;)

  5. says

    I think my cravings go hand in hand with what you’re cooking Alta! I have had a hankering for peaches lately in some baked dessert form. You cake looks like the number, except I don’t have peach butter :( I will have to make some when peaches are in season.

    SO glad you had a nice holiday with your family. It’s always nice to get away from it all.

  6. says

    What beautiful countryside. I have never been to Texas, so believe it or not, the flatlands are very intriguing to me! Well, everything is interesting when it’s not what you’re used to, isn’t it ? Your photos are gorgeous!

  7. says

    How nice to be able to “share” your vacation with you, from the comforts of my own porch and with my morning coffee in hand. But I do wish I had a slice of your delicious looking, must-make peach coffee cake to go with it. Just splendid. Many thanks for your post.

  8. says

    The post was worth the wait, my dear! Love the photos (every single one!). And, that coffee cake … it looks soooo good! Sure looks like the perfect retreat spot to me. :-) Oh, and you educated me, too. I had never heard of escolar, but as a lover of all things fish and seafood, I’ll be on the lookout for it!

    Fredericksburg, Texas has long been on my list of spots to visit. (All those years of getting Country Living magazine and seeing so many spreads from similar abodes there!) Fredericksburg, VA is the closest city to me. It’s what we call “town,” so I always perk up when I see Fredericksburg and usually I find out, it’s Fredericksburg, Texas that’s being referenced. This time I knew you were headed to your “local” Fredericksburg though, so I wasn’t surprised. ;-)

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Shirley

  9. Vegetable Matter says

    I tried to read your post early this morning on my iPhone, but I really wanted to see all your pics so I’m back. We were just talking about taking a trip to F-burg for peach season, didn’t think about staying out in the country. You’ve given us a great idea. Although tell your husband I think we’ll skip the steak-eating parts of your trip!

  10. says

    My husband, my mom, and I spent the day in Fredericksburg in December and were enchanted! We adored the shops, the eateries, and most of all, the warm, friendly people. We went to a winery (I think it’s called Lincoln Street Winery) that was beyond lovely. I’d highly recommend it. I’m so happy you had a great time.

  11. says

    There are times when a little R&R goes a long way to soothe my soul…looks like you got some R&R too. So glad you shared your vacation with us!! I love your cake recipe – some things need a very light gluten-free flour mix and this looks like it did – and it worked beautifully.

  12. says

    Fredericksburg is only an hour from my home, shame on me, we need to go more often. We make an excuse to go there each spring specifically to buy French tarragon plants from the Herb Farm, unfortunately I found some locally so we haven’t made our usual trip. Odd as this may sound, the Herb Farm is worth a pass through town in July or August (seriously hot months). You arrive in the parking lot and just open you car windows, you don’t even have to get out of the car. The scent of the herbs will just about knock you out, it’s unbelievable. Another favorite of ours is The Lincoln Street wine bar. It’s off the main drag, super laid back, huge selection of wine by the glass and beers you’ve never heard of. Huge selection of pate, cheeses, olives served on butcher paper with fresh bread!! In the winter, there is even an outdoor fireplace on the patio sitting under the grape vines. Geeze, I sound like the chamber of commerce. We haven’t been to August E’s yet but here wonderful things about it. Your dinner sounded fantastic! Put Blanco on your weekend trip list for the future, maybe during the Lavender Festival. You can get a cottage on the river and it’s a very short drive SE from Fredericksburg. If you happen to be that close, come on down and see us. Now I need to go bug my husband about that Sunday drive he doesn’t know we are taking yet!
    Great post, thank you! ~LeslieMichele

  13. says

    I love the look of the texture of this cake, it would be well worth getting any little bits stuck in my teeth :)

    Totally understand the piles of photos you took too – looks gorgeous there!

  14. says

    Sounds like a good time. The photos are beautiful, and that cake sounds like a winner. Never tasted peach butter, but it sounds like a nice thing to try to make at home.

  15. says

    that must have been fun trip, nice photos too…..and that cake……I’m salivating just from reading the name of this recipe….

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