Peaches, belles are sweet and sassy

Published 12:12 am Saturday, July 23, 2011

Alabama has bragging rights when it comes to peaches. There are 4,500 to 5000 acres dedicated to growing peaches, and production is valued at $10-$15 million. The Chilton County Peach Jam Jubilee was held on June 24. The Peach Jam was started in 2005 by the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce, and this event is part of the Chilton County Peach Festival, which has been celebrated for more than 50 years. Its mission is to provide a safe and friendly environment for the central Alabama community. You can enjoy music, food, art and crafts and the best thing is that it is absolutely free.

I always stop at Durban Farms when I am in Chilton County. They have the most delicious varieties of peaches and those peach pies are not bad. It is right off the interstate and is always busy in the summer. I think the peach ice cream brings in the customers.

Good peaches are seasonal and need to be used at their peak. These recipes are for you to do now. So, go buy some good peaches, bring them home and cook a good pie or cake or just enjoy them by themselves and let the juice run down you face.

Peach Crumble Pie

(From Everyday Food July/August 2011)

Serves 8

For the Crust:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling

¼ teaspoon fine salt

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the filling:

3 pounds peaches, halved, pitted and cut into ½ -inch slices (8 cups)

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the Crumble:

1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

6 tablespoons (3/4-stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Make crust in a food processor, pulse flour, salt and granulated sugar until combined. Add butter, pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time); do not over mix. Form dough into a disk, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour (or up to overnight).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly flour a rolling pin and work surface and roll out dough to a 12-inch round. Place in a 9-inch pie plate, fold overhang under, and crimp edges. Make filling in a large bowl, toss together peaches, brown sugar, and flour until combined. Make crumble: in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour and oats, using your hands, work in butter until large clumps form.

Transfer peach filling to pie shell, then sprinkle crumble evenly over top. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until juices are bubbling and topping is golden, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack 1½ hours before serving. (Store covered, at room temperature, up to two days.)

Fresh Peach Cake

(From Food Network Magazine June 2011)

Serves 8

¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 ½ cups sugar

2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced

½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for three to five minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup sugar and the cinnamon.

Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans.

Bake the cake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I love this quote from Courtney Walker, the 2011 Miss Georgia Peach winner. “To me, there’s nothing better than a hot summer day with peaches and ice cream, sweet and smooth with a bit of tart – like a lot of Southern women, come to think of it! Sweet with a little sassiness.”