I look forward to that first perfect peach every summer.
You know the one I mean, right? That firm-fleshed peach that yields to the teeth, the one that is not entirely soft but not as hard as a toddler’s head either. The peach that is so bursting with juice that you have to stand over the sink to eat it, and let the juice run down your wrist to your elbow.
I haven’t had one yet.
Oh, I’ve had some decent peaches. We have a farmstand here on the island that buys fruit and veg directly from about 20 farmers in Eastern Washington. This couple is in their 70s (I think), yet they are so dedicated to bringing great produce to the island that he drives over the mountains every Thursday to pick up the zucchini, peppers, corn, and nectarines. Last year, they had fantastic peaches. This year, not so much.
It has been a lousy summer, weather wise. (Life wise? Far sunnier than the skies.) It was the coldest, rainiest spring in Seattle history. June was grey and dripping. We’ve had only 2 several-day bursts of truly hot weather the entire summer. Sigh. These are not the best peach-growing conditions.
(Our cherry tree? No cherries. We saw some green cherries, in the continual process of spring — bare black branch to dark cherries — but none of them ripened. None. All our neighbors said the same. It has been a lousy year for the garden.)
The farmers in Eastern Washington must be wanting to smack the weather guy. No good weather means lousy year for their crops means horrible financial situation. So the fact that I haven’t had my platonic ideal of a peach yet? I’m not suffering that much.
Still. It’s one of the benchmarks of my year. Walking through a pile of leaves and trying to resist the urge to kick. The first time I hear Christmas carols and feel like singing along (that’s never as early as the stores want me to sing). The first green vegetables appearing at the farmers’ market in spring. And that peach.
(Okay, I should admit that our friend Jon Rowley brought us a box of peaches from Frog Hollow Farm, the legendary farm in California. We were so grateful. They were a couple of days away from Jon’s recommended ripeness, so we let them sit. And then life grew busy. We remembered them a couple of days past perfect ripeness, which is why you see that touch of brown up there. Still. Those peaches are astonishing. They just aren’t from here.)
It hasn’t truly felt like summer around here.
Oh well. That’s okay. Just more stone fruits that need to be baked in a buckle.
How You Can Join in Summer Fest:
So now it’s your turn: Have a recipe or tip that fits any of our weekly themes? Starting with our posts of Wednesday, July 28, for five Wednesdays, you can contribute in various ways, big or small.
Contribute a whole post, or a comment—whatever you wish. It’s meant to be fun, viral, fluid. No pressure, just delicious. The possibilities:
Simply leave your tip or recipe or favorite links in the comments below a Summer Fest post on my blog, and then go visit my collaborators and do the same.
The cross-blog event idea works best when you leave your recipe or favorite links (whether to your own blog or someone else’s) at all the host blogs. Yes, copy and paste them everywhere! That way, they are likely to be seen by the widest audience. Everyone benefits, and some pretty great dialog starts simmering.
Or think bigger: Publish entire posts of your own, if you wish, and grab the juicy Summer Fest 2010 tomato badge (illustrated by Matt of Mattbites.com).
Next week: tomatoes!
This Week’s Stone Fruit Links
- Marilyn at Simmer Till Done: Cherry Apricot Pie with Ginger-Almond Crunch.
- Sara at Cooking Channel: Savory Stone Fruit recipes.
- Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple: Riesling Poached Pluots.
- Caroline at The Wright Recipes: Ginger and Vanilla Poached Peaches.
- The FN Dish: Paula’s Perfect Peach Cobbler.
- Alison at Food2: Peachy Party Foods.
- Kelly at Just a Taste: Peaches & Cream Cupcakes.
- Liz on Healthy Eats: Puttin’ Up Peach Pickles, Compote and More.
- Food Network UK: How to Poach a Peach.
- Judy of Divina Cucina: Chocolate Amaretti Baked Apricots.
- The Gilded Fork: dossier & recipes featuring peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, cherries, almonds, coconuts.
- Cate at Sweetnicks: Blueberry Peach Smoothies.
- Tara at Tea & Cookies: Making Peach Jam.
- Alana at Eating From the Ground Up: Stone fruit slump.
- Caron of San Diego Foodstuff: grilled peach parfait and coconut peach gazpacho.
- Paige at The Sister Project: A Summer Fruit Whatchamacallit (not a pie, not a crisp, but delicious).
- Tigress in a Jam: nectarine preserve with summer savory and white pepper.
When I saw the nectarine buckle recipe that Deb at Smitten Kitchen had left this out of her upcoming cookbook, I knew two things: 1) now I want that cookbook even more than I did before, and 2) I have to adapt this to be gluten-free. Today.
I must admit that this summer is the first time I have ever baked a buckle. Crumbles? Crisps? Pies? Dozens of times in one season. But a buckle? What is a buckle? And is it very different than a slump? (It turns out that a slump is different as a buckle, but it is the same as a grunt.)
I’ll tell you what a buckle is: so wonderfully good that I don’t care what you call it. (One of my friends always tells this tired old joke: “I don’t care what you call me, as long as you don’t call me late for dinner.” I still laugh.) But if you must know, a buckle is a soft cake — think sort of sponge cake, sort of angel food cake — with a layer of fresh fruit and a streusel topping.
Danny agrees. This nectarine-blueberry brown butter buckle makes an incredible summer treat, soft and sweet, cake and streusel topping, and the perfect chance to make use of those stone fruits that are less than impeccable. He has been making this as one of the desserts at his restaurant for the last couple of weeks. They don’t sell it as a gluten-free dessert. It’s simply one of the desserts of the day. It always sells out.
Do you have some not-perfect peaches or nectarines lying around? How about blueberries? Read this recipe for nectarine-blueberry brown butter buckle, then start moving toward the kitchen.
170 grams (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
40 grams superfine brown rice flour
40 grams amaranth flour
55 grams potato starch
55 grams sweet rice flour
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
9 grams (2 teaspoons) baking powder
4 grams (3/4 teaspoon) fine sea salt
6 grams (1 teaspoon) powdered ginger
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
150 grams (2/3 cup) milk (we used soy milk here)
about 4 cups nectarines (pitted and sliced thick) and blueberries combined
1 teaspoon lemon juice
for the streusel topping
brown butter leftover from the cake
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
32 grams superfine brown rice flour
32 grams sweet rice flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
Browning the butter. This takes patience. In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Don’t touch it. It will start to foam and bubble. Don’t touch it. Suddenly it will turn clear, and you’ll think you are there. Don’t touch it. When the butter turns brown and smells wonderful, touch it. At this stage, the butter can burn quickly. Take the pan off the heat and set aside the butter to cool.
Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch cast-iron skillet with a circle of parchment paper, buttered on both sides. (Michael Ruhlman just put up a useful sort of post about how to cut a circle of parchment paper.)
Making the buckle batter. Guess what? You won’t need a stand mixer for this. Whisk the superfine brown rice flour, amaranth flour, potato starch, and sweet rice flour together, along with the guar gum and xanthan gum. Add the baking powder, salt, and ginger to the bowl. In a separate bowl, stir 1/2 cup of the brown butter and sugar together. Plop in one egg at a time, stirring in between. Stir in the soy milk. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients, then stir until just combined.
Pour the batter into the pan.
Toss the nectarines and blueberries together with the lemon juice. Arrange them loosely over the top of the cake batter. (If you want to be precise about the arranging, you’ll have a beautiful buckle. Me? I wanted to get this cake into the oven. So I’m calling it rustic.)
Making the streusel. Combine the remaining brown butter, sugar, brown rice flour, sweet rice flour, cinnamon and salt. Stir them until the mixture looks like large, damp crumbs. Spread this mixture evenly over the top of the buckle.
Baking the buckle. Slide the cast-iron skillet into the oven. Allow the buckle to bake until the top is golden brown and the cake part is firm. (If you put a toothpick in, you’re going to hit wet fruit, as Deb said. Listen to her — don’t overbake this.)
Allow the buckle to cool for 15 minutes, then slice it up.