Is it August already? It seems like just yesterday that I was desperately waiting for the arrival of summer, and today I saw Back to School signs at the bookstore! I'm past the age where I need to shop for school supplies or spend days mulling over the perfect outfit for the first day of school. But, I'm not past the age when August means perfect peaches and the hottest moments of summer.
Like most fruit, I enjoy it fresh, ripe, and hopefully still warm from basking in the sunlight. The peaches above are in California from two weeks ago and well on their way to perfection. In London its a bit harder to get sun sweetened and syrupy peaches as they must travel from afar to arrive. So rather than humiliate them by trying to enjoy them fresh its better to morph them into other tasty things.
Again, through the power of food blogging, I got a wonderful recommendation for Rustic Fruit Desserts from Kristin at dinner du jour. Kristin is an American who lives in the Irish countryside and blogs in tandem with her friend Kelly in Milwaukee. Rustic Fruit Desserts is exactly that...cobblers, slumps, fools, buckles, grunts and more...all using fruit.
One of the first things that called to me was the Caramel Peach Grunt - skin-on peaches smothered in a peachy caramel sauce, topped with biscuits, and all done in one cast-iron skillet.
CARAMEL PEACH GRUNT adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts
For the Caramel Peaches
- 3 1/2 pounds peaches, skins pierced and each cut into 10 slices
- 1 cup sugar for caramel
- 1/2 cup sugar for peaches
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1 oz)
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Toss peaches in 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain the juice and reserve. Toss peaches with cornstarch and salt. Preheat oven to 375F.
Combine 1 cup sugar with water in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat. Gentle move sugar around with a clean wooden spoon to make sure it is all wet. At this point leave the sugar alone but do not walk away from the pan. When most of the sugar reaches a dark amber, swirl the pan and remove from the heat. Carefully add the reserved peach juice and butter to the caramel. Take care as the hot sugar may bubble up a bit. Put back on heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat just as it comes to a boil and add the peaches. Turn off the heat and let peaches sit in the warm caramel while you make the biscuit dough. Note: The original recipe has you cook the peaches for 10 to 15 minutes, but I find this breaks down the peaches too much, especially if they are ripe. The time in the oven should cook the peaches perfectly, allowing them to keep shape and not disintegrate.
For the Biscuit
- 2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flours (I used half whole wheat flour - worked great!)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 Tablespoons (3 oz), cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 cup cold buttermilk
Whisk together the dry ingredients. I usually freeze my butter for about 10 minutes before making biscuit dough. Pulse drys and butter in a food processor, or use a pastry cutter, to cut the butter until it is the size of small peas. Pour in the cold buttermilk and mix till the dough barely comes together. I usually use my hands and gently use the motion that mimics a dog digging for a bone. The dough will be wet and sticky. Drop the biscuit dough over the peaches into 12 equal portions (I made a bit less because I have a smaller cast-iron skillet, hence only 8 biscuits). Bake in the lower third of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits puff up and are golden. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving. Eat soon - the biscuits will get soggy if you let is sit for too long.