Baking Week: Farmer’s market inspires a Fresh Peach Shortcake recipe

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The recipe also works with blueberries which are just coming to the end of their season here in the Florida panhandle. When I make a blueberry shortcake I add some fine lemon zest to the whipped cream. Cherries are also good right now, but are definitely not local. They are also fussier to deal with because of their pits.

To find a farmer's market near you checkout Local Harvest.

Peach Shortcakes:

2 1/2 to 3 lbs ripe peaches, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

8 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into cubes (keep the butter cold until ready to use)

1 cup sour cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the peaches in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Cover and refrigerate. This can be done several hours early.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet. I use an 11 x 17 pan lined with a Silpat. Alternatively, grease the baking sheet.

Combine the flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter cubes into the mixture. You can do this using a pastry cutter, a pair of knives, or by hand. If you are doing it by hand (which is what I usually do) make sure your hands are as cool as possible. The cold butter will form layers that keep the shortcakes light. As the butter warms it will be absorbed by the flour, and can make your shortcake heavy and tough. I quickly rub the butter and flour between my fingers until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

Add the sour cream and stir until just blended. The mixture will be very sticky.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Pat into a rough circle, and cut into six wedges. With your hands lightly floured, roll each wedge into a ball, place on the baking sheet and gently press the top to flatten. The cakes should now be about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick. They should be at least an inch apart on the baking sheet.

On the middle rack of the oven bake until golden brown, about 15-minutes. Turn sheet around in the oven after 8-minutes so they bake evenly. The shortcakes can be baked several hours early. If you start early be sure to store the cakes in an airtight container or wrap so they don't dry out.

Just before you are ready to assemble the shortcakes, whip the cream until very soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and mix on low speed until just blended.

To assemble:

- slice each cake horizontally

- drizzle some of the peach juice onto the bottom half of the shortcakes

- top with about 2/3 of the peach slices

- place a generous dollop of whipped cream on the peach slices

- cover with the top half of the shortcakes

- add another generous dollop of whipped cream to the top of the cakes, and place the remaining peach slices and any collected juice over the cream. 

I let the assembled cakes sit for 5 to10 minutes to allow all the elements to come together nicely.

To read what and where Colleen is eating and drinking, follow her on Twitter @colleensachs.

My Saturday habit is to start the day at a farmer's market. Instead of going with a menu and specific ingredients in mind, I choose what looks best and design my menu around what I buy. This week the stars of the show were the peaches. They are in season within 100 miles of my home, getting from the farm to my table quickly. This means they are picked at their peak, and I get to enjoy a peach that is dripping with juice, has a heady aroma, and tastes.... like a peach.One of the best ways to enjoy peaches like this is sliced, chilled and topped with a drizzle of good quality heavy cream. But this Saturday I was having company for dinner and wanted something more. One of my dinner guests was my mom, who doesn't eat much in the way of sweets.

This peach shortcake recipe was pretty, homey and very tasty. The base is a faintly sweet biscuit that gets a flavor and moisture boost from sour cream. The peaches have just a bit of sugar added to help coax out juices to drizzle on the cake. Whipping cream has a touch of vanilla to add a sweet quality without adding more sugar.

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