By Barbara Beltrami
You know it’s really summer when the pyramids of peaches instead of apples greet you at the supermarket. You know it’s summer when you bite into a peach and the juice runs down your chin and forearm and you don’t even care. It’s when dessert is peach dumplings or peach crisp that you’ve baked early in the morning before the kitchen got too hot or you decided you’d really rather just lie in the shade or by the pool and read and nap. So get up with the birds this week, get those peachy desserts in the oven and stay tuned for next week’s column, Peachy Peaches Part II.
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
Pastry for two-crust pie
6 just ripe medium freestone peaches
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
DIRECTIONS: Make pie pastry, form into a ball, seal in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Meanwhile, pare peaches and be careful to keep peaches as whole as possible. With the tip of a small sharp knife, cut down from stem end of peach into peach and cut around pit to remove it. Fill each cavity left by pit with one tablespoon sugar and one tablespoon butter. Remove pastry from refrigerator and on a lightly floured surface, roll the ball into a 10-inch by 15-inch rectangle, about one-eighth-inch thick. Cut into 6 equal squares. Place a peach on each square; mold pastry around it until peach is completely covered. Place pastry-covered peaches in a deep baking dish and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 F. In saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar with half a cup of water and, stirring constantly, cook 5 minutes. Spoon syrup over each dumpling. Bake 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F and, basting with syrup 2 or 3 times, bake 30 to 40 minutes more, until crust is light golden and a sharp knife inserted into peach meets no resistance. Serve at room temperature or warm with whipped cream, vanilla or peach ice cream.
YIELD: Makes 6 servings
2½ pounds ripe peaches
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick soft unsalted butter
DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease an 8- by 8- by 2-inch baking dish. Wash peaches; pare, if desired; remove pits. Slice peaches into prepared baking dish. Sift flour with sugar, salt, and cinnamon into medium bowl. With pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle evenly over peaches. Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until topping is crisp and golden and peaches are bubbly and tender. Serve with heavy cream or vanilla ice cream.