Today’s the last day in August, but I didn’t want to miss a chance to still celebrate National Peach Month!
I LOVE fresh peaches and my first inclination was to make a peach pie – my favorite flavor – but I certainly could not have been trusted with a whole pie in the house. Instead, I decided to poach some peaches in a rosemary-honey-vanilla liquid and pair them with pound cake and little whipped cream. A bit less calorie-filled, right?
If you’ve never poached fruit, here’s your chance to try it because it’s very easy and the results are delicious. Stone fruits work particularly well because they’re sturdy and don’t have any seeds. Poaching liquid is just a simple syrup typically made with 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. You can add just about anything that sounds good to you like white wine, herbal tea or fruit juice, along with aromatics like lemon zest, fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, herbs (rosemary, lemongrass and lemon verbena work well) and you’re ready to go. Slowly simmering the fruit in this liquid allows it to not only absorb these flavors, but also, release its own juices/sugars into the liquid, making it all even more delectable.
Since I have a huge batch of rosemary growing on my porch, that was my go-to herb, along with one lonely vanilla bean in my pantry that I’ve been saving for a ‘special occasion’ — I’m not quite sure what I thought that would be at the time I bought it, but I decided that this being the last day of August was a good occasion. Here are the peaches after they had been sitting in the liquid for some time (the liquid had cooked down quite a bit at this stage):
You can serve the fruit by itself in a pretty bowl with whipped cream, alongside a tasty cake, or even atop vanilla ice cream. I served the peaches with homemade pound cake I’ve had in my freezer — it’s a recipe my grandmother and many of our family members have made for years. If you don’t have a homemade version in your freezer, feel free to use a store-bought pound cake or any other cake you like. The peaches are really the star of this dessert, anyway. Whatever you do, though, don’t toss the poaching liquid – it’s delicious when served with the peaches 🙂
- 2-3 large peaches
- 2 c. water
- 1 c. sugar
- 1 Tb. honey
- 4 strips lemon zest
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 c. vegetable shortening, room temperature
- 2 c. sugar
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 Tb. vanilla
- 2 Tb. lemon extract
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 3 c. all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 c. buttermilk, room temperature
- Bring a deep pan filled with water to a boil. Slice an X in the bottom of each peach and place them into the boiling water for a few minutes. Transfer peaches to an ice-water bath to stop cooking, and remove skins using a small paring knife. Remove pits and cut into quarters.
- Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan.
- Heat to medium/high to dissolve the sugar, then reduce heat to simmer.
- Place fruit into liquid and regularly spoon liquid over each piece (if they’re not covered).
- Simmer about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to sit for a few minutes. Discard the flavorings.
- Serve peaches (and juice) immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for several days.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees (ensure oven rack is in the middle so cake cooks evenly).
- Butter a large non-stick bundt pan (or 10” square baking pan), then sprinkle in some flour to coat the sides. Be sure to remove the majority of the flour by tapping the sides.
- Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy.
- Add eggs (one at a time) and extracts. Blend until well-combined.
- Sift dry ingredients then add to wet mixture in batches, alternating with buttermilk.
- When well combined, pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake about 1 hour, until bamboo skewer comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer cake to a serving platter (this will be easy to do if you use a non-stick pan!).
Note 2: To make sweetened whipped cream, beat 1 c. whipping cream with 2 Tb. powdered sugar with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
Note 3: This recipe, using 2 large peaches, serves 4. The poundcake itself serves 8-10.