Peach Blackberry Shortcake

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The peach season is winding down, and I feel as though I must quickly post a peach recipe before it’s over. Also, I still need a dessert to round out the blog menu! You see, creating a food blog is different than putting together a cookbook. When you’re writing a recipe book, you assemble all the recipes and publish them all at once. With a blog, your head is swimming with ideas, but you publish them one at a time, lovingly and painstakingly. You may consider each recipe a gift, chosen carefully and handed to you with love at special occasions. Okay, enough with the gushing sentiments. I’ll stop before I have you all in tears.

Because I did not make a single strawberry shortcake this year, I vowed that peach season would not skid past without a peach blackberry version. In my mind, peaches and blackberries fit together like sunflowers and bulrushes in a fall bouquet. You can have them separately, but the two together add a stunning Wow factor, both in looks and flavour. Yesterday I was in at our store and got a basket of peaches and a quart of blackberries to pair together in some goody. Last night, we had a special family dinner in honour of our youngest going away to college, and moving out for a year. Voila! My reason to make this shortcake was born.

I love shortcakes, especially the biscuit variety. In fact, I love all things biscuit-related: scones, shortcakes, and biscuits themselves. On our honeymoon, we spent some time in the South, where I learned how to make a proper biscuit that does not have the texture of sawdust. You’ve all had those, I’m sure; the kind that come out your nose if you sneeze. Or like one I had at a High Tea at a heritage homestead that flew off the table when I tried to saw it asunder to butter it and landed on the grass with a thud, with nary a dent or a crumb out of place. Nope, my biscuits have to be flaky yet moist; crusty yet soft. Sometime, I will share that recipe with you. Meanwhile, here’s the shortcake.

The key to any biscuit-type recipe is to cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry blender until the crumbs are a little larger than a small pea. This helps to create the flakiness. Now stir the liquid in with a fork, swirling from the outside towards the centre, just until the dough gathers together. Lastly you tip it onto a floured surface and gently knead it with the heels of your hands (that’s where your hand meets your wrist) about 20 times. Pat it and shape it, and mark it with B. Hmm, how much do you bet that old nursery rhyme was written about shortcake?

Peaches should be firm when you buy them, with good colour. They ripen quickly, so if you buy them ripe, they will be over-ripe by the next day. Spread them out on a towel or newspaper at room temperature to ripen. They are ready to use when the shoulders around the stem end depress when you press them slightly. Ideally, they will be ripe within two days. 

Your supplier will thank you if you do not squeeze them before buying. We would cringe when customers did that at the market, then ask “Why are these peaches so hard?” In our heads: “Ummm, ma’am, do you have any idea what these peaches would look like if they were soft and you squeezed them like that?”  But of course we didn’t say that. We’d just smile and reply sweetly with information on ripening peaches.

Peach Blackberry Shortcake

Ingredients

Fruits

  • 3 cups washed and sliced fresh peaches (I leave the skins on)
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Fruit Fresh or other anti-browning agent

Shortcake:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • Milk or cream (optional)
  • Coarse sugar (optional)

Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a large bowl, combine sliced peaches, blackberries, sugar and Fruit Fresh, and toss very lightly. Chill until ready to serve. Preheat oven to 425° F.

In another bowl, stir together the dry ingredients for the shortcake. Cut cold butter into 1″ chunks, then cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the butter is the size of large peas. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, then stir in the sour cream. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients with a fork until the mixture holds mostly together. 

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 20-25 turns, or until starting to smooth. Roll or pat into an 8″ circle on a lightly greased pizza pan. Cut a 2″ hole in the centre to form a ring. This hole keeps the shortcake from having a doughy centre. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 12- 15 minutes or until lightly browned. It will expand and puff up. Cool until ready to use.

Put all topping ingredients in a small deep bowl and whip until stiff. 

Just before serving, slice shortcake into two layers. Spread cream on bottom layers, saving a little for top garnish. layer most of the fruit on top of cream. Carefully place the top layer of shortcake over fruit. Garnish with remaining cream, fruit and the little cutout. Cut into 8 wedges to savour the fine tastes of summer!

 

 

 

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