Food Friday: August is National Peach Month


August is National Peach Month. I want you to be ready, and armed for every occasion. Here we are, still plodding along happily in July and already I have seen tempting, tumbling piles of local peaches. Golden mounds of them seem to roll toward me at the farmers’ market, and I offer little resistance to their allure. I bag them, and haul them home, and start devising the many ways to eat a peach.

In Baltimore they know what to do with peaches – they bake peach cakes.

I bet you don’t feel like driving over the bridge, do you? Try this at home:

Peach Cake With Raised Sweet Dough Base

(Makes two 9-inch round cakes)
1 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cake compressed yeast (2¼ teaspoons dry yeast)
1 egg
1/4 cup shortening
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups flour

Mix together milk, sugar, salt and crumble into mixture, yeast.
Stir until yeast is dissolved. Stir in egg and shortening. Mix in first with spoon, then with hands, half the flour, then the remainder of the flour.

When the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl, turn it out onto a lightly floured board and knead. Knead dough, then place in greased bowl, turning once to bring greased side up. Cover with damp cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free spot until double in bulk, about 1½ to 2 hours. Punch down, let rise again until almost double in bulk, 30 to 45 minutes. Divide dough in half.

Pat dough into greased 9-inch round pan forming a ridge around the edge. Arrange thinly sliced peaches overlapping one another in a circle around the center. To keep peaches from darkening, sprinkle with lemon, orange or grapefruit juice. Cover and let rise until double, 25 to 35 minutes. Bake 25 to 30 minutes in 400° F oven.

Quick Apricot Glaze:
Add 1 tablespoon hot water to 1/3 cup apricot jam.
Recipes from The Baltimore Evening Sun, 1958

Mr. Friday sliced half a peach onto his bowl of cold twiggy cereal this morning, leaving the other half for me on the cutting board. I ate it over the sink, because the juices dripped furiously and there wasn’t anyone around who would point out that I should have been more ladylike and used a napkin. Don’t neglect any opportunity to just seize the day, and a peach, early, and eat it in your crude plebeian fashion. I understand that the young royals are not allowed to use their fingers to eat fruit – they are supposed to use a knife and fork! Shocking!

Summer is the time of melting ice cream and oozing s’mores and juicy watermelon and dripping peaches. How can you appreciate a peach unless you feel the velvet skin with your own sticky fingers? If you haven’t had peach juice run down the front of your T-shirt, you have not had a satisfactory summer experience.

By the time cocktail hour rolls around you might feel a certain longing for the decadent. I haven’t been to Harry’s Bar in Venice (although I’d like to) and sometimes I want to experience a Charles Ryder moment. Harry’s Bar has brought us the Bellini, the dry Martini, and Carpaggio. I think a Bellini or two will do this evening. It is Friday, after all. And what a thrifty and timely recipe – using some of our glut of peaches instead of the usual pears for a Bellini!

And if you like your peaches pure and unadulterated, now is the perfect time for you to grab a couple of them, mosey out to the hammock, pick up the latest Laura Lippman novel, and while away a summer’s afternoon.

“Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.”
― Alice Walker

Fun facts to know and tell:

About Jean Sanders

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