Blog Peach Shortcakes
Here are two things you may not know about peaches: They are closely related to almonds, and they can be grown in Vermont. I'm especially thankful for that second fact, because no matter how good Southern peaches may be, by the time they reach supermarkets near me, more often than not they're mealy and flavorless. Yes, they're pretty to look at, but where are the peaches with the ambrosial scent, tart-sweet flavor, and juicy texture that all but requires they be eaten standing over the sink? For me, the answer is just a short drive to Putney, Dummerston, Springfield, or Newfane, where Vermont farmers have planted peach orchards (some of them pick-your-own), that right now are full of honest-to-goodness ripe, juicy peaches for cobblers, pies, ice cream, and just snacking. (See the list of farms below the recipe.) About half a dozen peach varieties will grow and bear fruit in Vermont, notably "Reliance," which was developed by the University of New Hampshire in the 1960s to tolerate temperatures as low as –25 degrees. (Yes, that's a minus sign!)
Now, here's something you may not know about the Ann Clark Linzer cookie cutter set—the smaller cutter is just the right size for making shortcakes. Can you guess where I'm headed with this? Aside from just eating a peach plain, you can't beat peach shortcake for simplicity; all you need is a tender, buttery biscuit to soak up the sweet juices and a generous dollop of snowy whipped cream, subtly scented with almond extract, to dress the top. Best of all, since the peaches are served raw, you get the very essence of peach flavor in each bite. Have I convinced you to try it yet? Get yourself some ripe peaches (local ones, if you can) and enjoy.
Peaches and Whipped Cream
Beat 1 cup heavy cream in a chilled bowl until slightly thickened, then add 1 teaspoon almond extract and 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar, and continue to beat until cream holds soft peaks (do not overbeat).
Peel and slice fresh peaches, figuring on one peach for each shortcake. Taste the peaches and add a couple drops of lemon juice and a little sugar if desired—although if the peaches are ripe and you're serving them immediately, there's no need for either.
Split each biscuit, spoon peaches and cream onto the bottom half and set the biscuit top on the cream.
Dutton Berry Farm and Farm Stand
Newfane, Manchester, and Brattleboro, Vermont
Dwight Miller Orchards
Green Mountain Orchards
Scott Farm Orchards