And the kitchen counter was covered in flour. As was the kitchen floor. And my face. And my hair. And shhhhhh, parts of my camera! Oh recipe development, you are a mess-maker! Not that I didn’t know that. But I think the chaos created in my kitchen was of an unprecedented level. And I can’t wait for more.
That’s a peach shortcake above that you see. I figured that because I like shortcake (and I’m not alone in this, am I) I shouldn’t be limited to just strawberry shortcake. We’ve got but a short window when strawberries are in season and after that, it’s just not the same, though with a little sugar and balsamic, there are miracles to be had. But, still, the season is woefully short, especially if you love strawberries as much as I do. Or shortcake for that matter. And last time I checked, there wasn’t a soul in the world who was going to (willingly) refuse shortcake: all that butter and whipped cream? Yes, please. Thus, I decided to extend the shortcake idea well into the summer months, when stone fruit, such as peaches, comes in full swing at my local farmer’s market.
By now you probably know that I have this unabashed love of rustic dessert. If you ask me to choose between a chocolate tart and a chocolate bread pudding, inevitably, the bread pudding will win almost every time. Crumbles, buckles, brown bettys, slumps, spoon cake, pudding cake, buttermilk everyday cake – hold my attention more than their fancier cousins. The dessert, I’d want to eat in my pajamas, on my couch on a quiet evening; kind that looks better messy than perfectly composed.
Shortcake biscuits benefit from fruit that has been allowed to steep in its juices, usually facilitated by the addition of sugar. On its own, the biscuit is dry and crumbly, but ladle some fruit with some sugary juices in the middle of a halved biscuit, and a few minutes later, the fruit begins to penetrate the crumbly surface. Peaches, especially right now, tend to run on the sweet side, so I add a tiny bit of lemon juice to up the tartness just a bit. Mixed with a few spoons of sugar and left alone, the peaches transform into a lovely uncooked compote of sorts.
I originally wrote up this recipe, upon Jennie’s invitation, for the Cuisinart blog as a guest post. I’m not sure when the post is going up, but I couldn’t wait to share it with all of you. I tested the biscuit recipe and came up with something that can either yield a more rustic and chewy biscuit, or a more traditional crumbly one, depending on what you want to do. So I’m offering you a whole wheat and an all purpose versions here. With this exercise alone, I have found new respect for coming up with new baking recipes – testing batches, adjusting your ingredients, is nothing to scoff at. Not that I ever did. But the process can be laborious, intense, at times frustrating – but in the end, if you are patient and persistent, immensely rewarding.
This upcoming Sunday, I’m embarking on testing chocolate cake recipe for cupcakes I’m making for a friend’s wedding in October. I’m going to enlist Andrew and a part-time photographer to capture the messes and the hands-on details. Operation “Wedding Cupcakes” is about to commence. I see flour everywhere. Brace yourselves.
2 1/2 cups whole wheat or all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter (12 tbsp) – if you can, use cultured butter which has a higher fat content
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 large egg at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk (use 2 teaspoons less if using all purpose flour)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 ripe peaches
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tsp sugar
Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a large bowl and a whisk in the freezer.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Cut your butter into large chunks and dump in the food processor. Empty the flour mixture on top of the butter, cover the food processor, and pulse the processor, cutting the butter into flour mixture, until the mixture is crumbly. You can also use a pastry cutter to do the same.
In a medium bowl, combine the egg, sugar, maple syrup, buttermilk, cream, and vanilla, and whisk everything together until uniform. Add all of the liquid to the flour mixture, and pulse a few more times until just incorporated, being careful not to overwork the dough. If doing by hand, mix using a fork.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently knead a few times until smooth.
Pat the dough out into a 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick 12 inch circle. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut the dough into biscuits, you should get about 16 biscuits. Transfer the biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet. Do not re-roll the dough – you’ll get dough that’s tough and not as crumbly. Sprinkle the tops of the biscuits with sanding sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the tops are golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving or cool completely on a rack.
Meanwhile, bring a pot to a boil filled with enough water to cover the peaches. Cut an “X” on the bottom side of each peach. Add to the boiling water and blanch for 30-60 seconds. Remove from water with a slotted spoon. Let stand until cool enough to handle, then remove the skin – it should come right off. Slice the peaches in half, remove the pits. Slice thinly, add to a medium bowl with vanilla and sugar, tossing to coat. Let sit to macerate.
While your biscuits are cooling, whip the heavy cream and sugar together, until stiff peaks form.
To serve, take one biscuit and cut it in half using a serrated knife. Spoon some whipped cream onto the bottom half. Place a generous heap of sliced peaches, and top with more whipped cream. Finish with the biscuit top. Serve immediately.