Peach Shortcake

Cake, Desserts, Southern / Friday, June 17th, 2011

Peach Shortcake

I like to think that, on the 15th or 16th day of Creation, God said, “If you’re willing to put up with mosquitoes, chiggers and feeling like you’re in Satan’s armpit for four months of the year, I’ll give you peaches.”

And Eve said, “If I can get a bottle of Benadryl and a few scrunchies, done and done.”

She really should have bartered relief from underboob sweat, but at least she made the deal.

There’s nothing like a ripe peach. They lure you in with a scent that’s all sweetness and sunshine, and they taste like 1,000 lazy summer afternoons. Downright seductive.

There’s a reason why I call my favorite honey-peach ice cream “Peachgasm.”

So, when I saw this recipe for Peach Shortcake in Martha Hall Foose’s new cookbook, “A Southerly Course,” I knew she had my number.

The shortcake is one huge, brown sugar-sweetened biscuit, split and filled with whipped cream and fresh peaches – peaches flavored with brown sugar, bourbon and ginger – and topped with more of the same, as well as a handful of toasted pecans, sprinkled on top like confetti.

The ginger really makes the peaches sing, so when you spoon the peaches onto the cake layers, don’t even think about using something slotted and missing out on all of that lovely syrup pooling under those peaches. The shortcake might seem fragile at first, but it’s made to soak in all of that syrupy goodness and cradle the peaches and whipped cream in lusciousness.

One slice makes four months of underboob sweat seem like a small price to pay.

Good choice, Eve.

Peach Shortcake

Adapted from Martha Hall Foose’s “A Southerly Course”

Makes 1 (8-inch) cake

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh peaches, peeled and thinly sliced (recommended: freestone)
  • 7 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (Heat oven to 350 degrees F, and toast pecans on a baking sheet for 5 minutes.)
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan with butter or nonstick spray, and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, 4 tablespoons of the brown sugar, bourbon, and ginger. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Using two forks, a pastry cutter, or your fingertips, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.
  5. Add the milk, stirring just until moistened.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and gently knead 10 times, or until the dough comes together and is smooth.
  7. Pat the dough evenly into your prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Remove the shortcake from the pan, and let it cool on a wire rack.
  9. When ready to serve, whip the cream with the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar until stiff peaks form.
  10. Split the shortcake in half horizontally, like opening a big biscuit. Place the bottom layer on a serving platter. Spoon half of the peach mixture (including the liquid) over the cake, and top with half of the whipped cream.
  11. Cover with the second cake layer, and top with the remaining peach mixture (including the liquid) and whipped cream.
  12. Sprinkle with pecans and serve.

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