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Eat A Peach by Robin Nathan

It is peach season, indeed.  Everywhere you look, peaches and stone fruits are spilling from bins and stacked shoulder high in crates.  Nectarines, plums, pluots, plumcots – juicy, ripe and swoon-worthy.  Unless, of course, they’re not.  There’s nothing worse than choosing a fragrant peach and biting in to discover mealy mushy yuck.  How is a girl (or guy) to know which peach is good and which needs to be composted??

Don’t go for size, unless the fruit has been tree-ripened.  Often, especially at major grocery markets, the larger fruits get mealy before they have time to fully ripen. Check the weight. The heavier a fruit is for its size, the more juice it contains.  A large fruit that seems surprisingly light is past its prime. Lastly, breathe deeply.  A fruit that smells like nothing will taste like nothing.

It’s a crazy position for a chef, I know, but when fruit is perfect, I’d rather eat it as-is than cook it.  Slice up perfectly ripened peaches, nectarines, and plums, pit and slice a few cherries and toss them on top of bitter greens like arugula or radicchio.  Crumble over some fabulous Marché Bleu d’ Auvergne or Feta cheese, add some warm sliced grilled steak or chicken and call it dinner!

If you have an over-abundance of lovely peaches or nectarines, try this wonderful, French style peach cake that bakes with its own sugar crust.  It’s lovely for breakfast or brunch, or topped with ice cream for dessert.  Now, go eat a peach!

French Country Peach Cake with Chantilly “Sour” Cream
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups all purpose flour
  2. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. ½ teaspoon salt
  4. 1 cup unsalted butter in pieces at room temperature
  5. 1 1/3 cup + 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  6. 4 eggs
  7. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  8. 3 tablespoons peach liqueur
  9. 2-3 firm-ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled and diced
CHANTILLY CREAM
  1. 1 cup heavy cream
  2. 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  3. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  4. ¼ cup full fat sour cream
Instructions
  1. Prepare a 9” springform pan: Spray the pan with baking spray, place a sheet of parchment on the bottom and spray the sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Using a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and cup of sugar until soft and creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time until incorporated, then the vanilla and brandy. Beat a little longer on low speed to incorporate, but the mixture will look grainy. That’s fine. Add the dry mixture and blend to combine.
  4. Scrape a third of the batter into the springform pan. Arrange a single layer of fruit wedges on top of the batter and sprinkle with half of the remaining sugar. Scrape the remaining batter on top of the peaches, spreading as needed to completely cover the fruit. Sprinkle the last 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly on top of the cake.
  5. Place into preheated 350 degree oven and bake 45-55 minutes until golden and a pick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Let cool and remove the springform sides and bottom. Serve with the Chantilly cream.
CHANTILLY CREAM
  1. Beat the cream and confectioner’s sugar on low speed with a hand held mixer to blend, then increase speed to high. Just after soft peaks form, add the sour cream and continue to beat until firmer peaks begin to form. Do not over-beat! Refrigerate for up to 3 hours, or use right away.
Notes
  1. “Chantilly” refers to heavy cream whipped with sugar and vanilla. The addition of sour cream adds refreshing tartness and has the additional benefit of stabilizing the cream.
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