I couldn't help but follow the wonderful smell of the peaches as I strolled past the VillageFest fruit stand. The air was heavy with their, well, sweet peachiness. There were other fruits available, but this week those peaches were calling my name.
My first thought was to make a peach cobbler, but I remembered a recipe I had from years past for blueberry shortcakes. The original recipe came from the August September 1998 issue of Fine Cooking Magazine. That dessert was really good but instead of blueberries, I decided to make the shortcakes and make use of these beautiful, fragrant peaches.
The shortcakes are easy to make and always come out perfect. However, since I was using peaches, I made one slight modification to the shortcake recipe; crystalized ginger. You don't need it, but I had a package of it for some recipe which I can't remember right now. Since I think ginger and peaches are great together, this addition was just going to make those peach shortcakes even better.
Topped with some fresh whipped cream, this, to me, is a perfect summer dessert. I tweaked the whipped cream too, and used honey to sweeten it instead of sugar. It adds a complexity and depth of flavor to the whipped cream that sugar doesn't provide.
These shortcakes are perfect right out of the oven, but if you can't use immediately, store in a airtight container and heat them before serving.
For the biscuits
8-1/2 oz (2 cups) sifted all-purpose flour
1 Tbs., baking powder, sifted
3/4 tsp., salt
3 Tbs., sugar; additional for glaze ( I use Demerara for the glaze)
1 Tbs., grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp., fresh (or ground) nutmeg
2 oz ( 4 Tbs) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup buttermilk; more for glaze
1/4 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger (optional)
For the peaches
6 ripe peaches cut into eighths
1/4 sugar (or to taste depending on the peaches)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of ground cardamom (optional)
pinch of star anise (optional)
For the whipped cream
1/2 pint (1 cup) heavy whipping cream
2 Tbs., honey or sugar to taste
1 tsp vanilla extract (or to taste)
To make the biscuits
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400F.
LIne a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. (Grease lightly with shortening or cooking spray if using parchment).
In a large bowl, mix together, sifted flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, lemon zest, nutmeg, and ginger (if using).
With a pastry blender, or finger tips, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Gently stir in the butter milk until the dough just holds together with no large dry lumps. You don't want the butter to melt into the mixture.
Spoon the biscuit dough onto the prepared sheet pan in six equal mounds.
Brush the tops with additional buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until the tops begin to brown and bottoms are golden. About 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for one minute then transfer to wire cooling rack. Cut with a serrated knife when ready to serve.
For the peaches
Cut the peaches in half, removing the stone. Cut each half into for sections
Toss with sugar (to taste)
Toss with 1 Tsp. vanilla extract
Cut the biscuits in half with a serrated knife and mound peaches on the bottom half of the biscuit.
Place the top portion of biscuit on the peaches and top with whipped cream.
You may also want to top the peaches with whipped cream before topping the biscuit, then adding additional whipped cream.
Enjoy the flavor of summer.