Monday, September 7, 2009

Just Peachy

I’ve been thinking about shortcakes since way back when strawberries were in season. While I never got around to making any, I had hoped to try a recipe for shortcakes studded with crystallized ginger (dried and sugar-coated ginger root). Then, more recently, I saw good fresh peaches from all over the country in the store where I get most of the produce that doesn’t come from the CSA*. I knew that they grew peaches in the Southeast, especially in Georgia (no one can visit Georgia without being reminded of this) and South Carolina, but the California, Colorado, Idaho, and even Michigan peaches were a bit of a surprise.

Not wanting to stand staring like a confused cook for too long, I quickly opted for the Michigan peaches. They were smaller, but had nice color and feel, smelled good (like peaches!), had a better price, and came from less far away. It turned out that they tasted good, too!

I’m not sure where I got the idea that peaches and ginger are a good match. It could be that I’ve read it and heard it so much in cookbooks, magazines and on television shows that it has just become something I now file under “Knowledge, Common” in my mind. Or perhaps it was the ginger-peach scented candle I had once upon a time from Pier 1 Imports. If my dessert tasted as good as that candle smelled, I’d be in business!

This recipe could probably do with some more testing, but, hey, this is a blog. I’m going to post it anyway. The shortcake batter was a bit wetter than I would like, so, next time I make this, I think I’ll start with ½ cup of half and half and add more as needed. I also made the shortcake biscuits too thin (I cut the dough into 8 portions; I recommend making 6 instead). They were still really good, but I would have liked them to be easier to split in half.

This dessert uses ginger root in three different forms: ground (ie, from a jar), fresh, and crystallized. The biscuits get a double dose with the ground ginger mixed in with the flour, and sweet, spicy bits of crystallized ginger waiting like pockets of buried treasure in the dough. I cooked minced fresh ginger with the peaches, so they were lightly infused with its unique but somewhat citrusy flavor.

I think the biscuits would be good on their own as a snack or as part of a complete breakfast (they freeze well), especially if gilded with a swipe of butter, perhaps flavored with lemon zest or more ginger. Taking the time to egg wash the tops and sprinkle them with coarse sugar (turbinado) gives them a sweet, crunchy crust. The peaches could be served on their own as well. They end up with a light syrup that soaks into the biscuits, but would probably also be nice over ice cream or yogurt and granola.

Triple Ginger Peach Shortcakes
Whole wheat pastry flour increases the WFQ** of this dessert (and uses up some of the five-pound bag I bought). You can replace it with more all-purpose flour if it is more convenient

For the Shortcake Biscuits

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
½ to ¾ cup half and half
1 egg, beaten with a little half and half or water
Turbinado sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw brand)

1.Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a large bowl stir the flours, baking powder, and ground ginger together with a whisk until well combined. Stir in the crystallized ginger.

2. Add the butter and cut it into the mixture with a pastry blender, knife or your hands until it looks crumbly.

3. Add the half and half and stir until just moistened with no remaining dry flour. You may wish to start with ½ cup and add up to ¼ cup more if needed.

4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Work it gently into a ball, then pat it out into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Cut dough into 6 equal squares. (You could also cut the dough into circles with a biscuit cutter if desired).

5. Place the biscuits onto a greased or lined pan (I use a silicone baking mat). Brush the biscuits with the egg wash and sprinkle each with turbinado sugar. Bake at 400 F for 18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

For the Peaches

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
6 ripe but firm peaches, sliced
1. Place the ginger, butter and sugar in a large skillet over medium low heat. Cook and stir until the butter and sugar have melted together. Cook 2-3 minutes more.

2. Add the peaches and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

To Serve

Slice the shortcake biscuits in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Spoon peach mixture onto the bottom half of each shortcake and top with the top half. Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired (you know you want to!)

Makes 6 servings.

* CSA = Community Supported Agriculture. The one to which we subscribe is here.

**WFQ = Whole Food Quotient

No comments:

Post a Comment