Just Peachy, and You?


Is it possible even to be in anything other than a great mood when peaches are enjoying their moment? Bursting forth from every basket, table and shelf, from every roadside stand and farmers’ market, the globes are filled with fifteen times their weight (or thereabouts) of juicy, sweet, tangy, summery nectar. Seems to be the whole reason for the season, in fact.

Better yet, try to imagine what this extraordinary fruit – at peak, too, mind you – will do for desserts. Think of a light, flaky, golden crust barely holding a magnificent peach slice. Then dusted with cinnamon and soaked with a sweetly exuberant syrup…

This is the summer finale Cook’s Country dreamt up in its June/July 2019 issue. Not only is the fruit itself extraordinary – of course, it is – but the syrup in which the dumplings bake sets the imagination alight too. This is because the sauce gets a double-concentration of the good stuff. Peaches themselves are blended into the syrup, but so too is a generous helping of peach preserves. Really good preserves, for the record:

Special-ordered from the UK, and well worth the wait. Peaches are supremely prominent, and prosecco (a bubbly similar to champagne) gives them an effervescent boost. Absolutely delightful. When drizzled over dumplings or ice cream, add “magical” to the description.

Also earning special mention is the crust. Even after simmering in syrup for 45 minutes, the crust stays light and flaky. This is because it was developed originally for Chicken and Pastry, another application for which the dough needs to keep its character. In today’s use, a little sugar makes things lightly sweet, and we have the perfect swimsuit for a peach.

Of course it is, as the dessert is all about the peach. Though peaches are mighty good summer-long, they’re extraordinary but for a brief time, and that time is now. Partake of the happiest of fruits in the most exuberant of seasons. Soon enough, you’ll be grinning from ear-to-ear too. That’s the thing about being peachy – there’s far too much contentment for just one person. Everyone gets to enjoy.

*****

Peach Dumplings

For the dough:

  • 1-and-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the peaches and sauce:

  • 2 large fresh peaches, peeled, halved and pitted, and each half cut into four equal wedges, divided (*1)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 teaspoon, sugar, divided
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup peach preserves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (*2)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Start with the dough.  Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Combine the milk and melted butter in a second bowl.  Using a rubber spatula, stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just incorporated.  

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead until no streaks of flour remain, about a minute.  Return dough to large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Move on to the peaches.  Set aside 12 of the 16 peach slices.  Combine the water, butter, 1/3 cup of the sugar, the salt, and the remaining 4 peach slices in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer peach mixture to a blender, add the peach preserves and the lemon juice, and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

Roll the dough into a 12-inch square about 1/8-inch thick.  Using a pizza cutter or a chef’s knife, trim away the outer 1/2-inch of the dough so that you have a neat square.  Cut the dough in half.  Working with one half at a time, cut each half into three equal rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally to create triangles.  Repeat with the second half of the dough.  When you finish you should have 12 triangles.

Working with one dough triangle at a time, place one of the reserved peach slices on the wide end of the triangle.  Roll dough around peach slice and transfer dumpling, seam side down, to an 8-ich baking pan.  Repeat with remaining peach slices, staggering the dumplings in 3 rows of 4 (dumplings will touch; this is fine).

Pour peach sauce over the dumplings in the pan.  Combine the cinnamon and the remaining teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the dumplings.  Bake until the dumplings are golden on top and the syrup in the center of the pan is bubbling, about 45 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. (*3)

NOTES:

1 – Naturally, fresh peaches are perfect just about now (mid-to-late summer, as this is being written), but if you’re attempting this recipe at any other time of year, frozen peach slices are surprisingly good.  Maybe not as awesome as are just-picked peaches, but then, what is?

2 – If you can, use a fresh lemon, as the juice is so much better that what’s poured from a bottle or (shudder) squeezed from one of those plastic lemons.  Even better yet, squeeze a Meyer lemon.  Now we’re talking!

3 – Know what really complements peach dumplings?  Freshly-whipped cream or, as in today’s offering, vanilla ice cream.  Think, peaches and cream.  Amidst the lingering swelter, little refreshes more effectively than does a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream, the warm peach syrup launching trickles of creamy goodness.  Mmmm-Mmmm-MMMMM! 

12 thoughts on “Just Peachy, and You?

  1. Oh, I think just this one person here would find the skill needed to eat this peachy feast alone. And yes, I’d be grinning from ear-to-ear. 😁 I knew I was in trouble when the email notification arrived in my inbox announcing Terrified Amateur’s new recipe and the word Peach was involved. 😋

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your kind words are greatly appreciated, Tamara!

      Ain’t this dessert a peach? Get used to it, because the fruit is irresistible, particularly in late summer. Meaning, it’ll make appearances every August from now until…whenever… It may not be finished yet this year, either.

      You still get email notifications? Seriously? It’s been years since I’ve seen one of those and I’ve gathered most others are similarly uninformed. Fortunately, I have all my online friends bookmarked, and every time I get online I go down the list to see if anything’s new.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awe, that’s cool how you go about scrolling down your list. Yes, I get yours and 2 other’s notifications by email. So, 3 people. I mean, I know you could’ve added it all together just fine but I couldn’t. So, am I correct? 3? 😄

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hear, hear, Crystal! It seems summer, fully aware of its looming exile, hopes to spark the most intense nostalgia possible by reserving its most magnificent gifts until the end. “With these beauties, by October mortals clamor for my return. By next April, desperation draws them to Dante’s Hell itself, the freezer aisle.”

      “(Your) K” – I like it! How did you and Kody honor the peach? By itself, unadorned and pure, or complementing other ingredients? Thoughts of both bring salivation, yet combining peaches with savory foods obsesses lately.

      Like

      1. Sounds great, Crystal!

        You sent my package on its way north already, correct? Shipped on dry ice, obviously, defying summer’s intensity.

        “To be, or not to be.”

        Your latest post supplied my usage a new archvillain, bumping off passive tense and even triteness.

        I never will call upon any of the “to be” gang again!

        Oh, wait….

        Like

      2. Ha, Crystal! Gotta brush the dust from some of those verbs cluttering the storeroom for years now. Time to reinvigorate those actions! Trying to diversify the collection, see. I am! I am! ! am!

        “There is no try, just do.” Thanks, Yoda! Thanks, Crystal!

        Liked by 1 person

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