During our “mini-honeymoon”, T and I ate at our favourite local restaurant Josephine’s. For dessert we had the most delicious homemade peach shortcake. Even though I’ve always prefered (or so I thought) strawberry shortcake, those peaches brought back a flood of nostalgic memories for me.
When I was little, I had two friends, sisters, who lived in this little town named Lucama, in eastern NC. I remember one summer, their dad- “Mr. Bill”- made homemade peach ice cream in an old-fashioned hand-cranked ice cream maker. It was the best ice cream I’ve ever had. There’s nothing I crave more in the summertime than *real* peach ice cream. Now, I know that this is a about peach shortcake, but there was just something about those peaches that brought back 20+ year old memories. Rudyard Kipling wrote, “Smells are surer than sounds or sights/ To make your heart-strings crack–.” And nothing is more closely tied to smell than taste.
So anyway, after that sentimental journey, I thought I’d try my own peach shortcake. For me (and I assume for some of you, too), “shortcake” was always those unnaturally yellow mini sponge cakes sold at the grocery store. And boy were they good. Especially slathered in Cool-Whip and strawberries. As an adult, I discovered the homemade version of those sponge cakes– Genoise. Still delicious (especially the chocolate version.) But alas, spongecake is not the same as shortcake. Shortcake is a sweet biscuit. It’s firm and a little dry — which is why it works so well with macerated fruit. Not to mention EASY. You don’t even need a mixer, just a fork.
So whatever your nostaglic summer memory is — fresh picked black berries, blueberries, or peaches — try ’em with shortcake and whipped cream. You won’t be disappointed.
- 2 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons shortening
- 3/4 cup half and half
- Melted butter to brush shortcakes
- fresh peaches, sliced
- whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 TBS sugar
Slice peaches as you like. Place in bowl and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of sugar. If you’re feeling froggy, add a tablespoon of peach schnapps, or triple sec. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or so.
While the peaches are chillin’…
Heat oven 450°.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and shortening. (I recommend that you do this with a fork.) Mix in half-and-half.
I portioned dough into four pieces and rolled into a ball, then flattened on to the baking sheet (just like my Grandma taught me to make biscuits.) Brush with melted butter.
Bake for 15 minutes or until brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
Whip your cream with vanilla and sugar.
Cut “biscuit” in half and layer with whipped cream, peaches, and top of biscuit. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and serve!
Shortbread recipe source: my hero, Alton Brown