A peachy afternoon

This weekend I wanted to make use of each and every white fleshed peach perched on my kitchen counter.  For the past week R. and I have been trying our best to make our way through the fruit bowl full of the delicious, juicy and wonderfully sweet stone fruit but they just don’t seem to be disappearing.  So I decided a wonderfully relaxed Saturday afternoon spent at home in the kitchen would solve our stone fruit dilemma.

With lunch time looming and hunger pangs growing R. and I decided to grill wedges of peach to add to a simple yet incredibly delicious salad.  Once the peach wedges were charred and slightly burnished we covered our plate with shaved ribbons of salty prosciutto, topped with handfuls of mixed greens and our charred peach wedges.  I plucked a wonderfully pale, creamy and sharp wodge of goat’s cheese from the fridge and sprinkled chunks all over our almost ready to be devoured salad.  R. finished the salad with a sprinkled of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and drizzled over a simple yet beautifully balanced balsamic vinaigrette. 

R. and I sat on the balcony nibbling on our peach and prosciutto salad, sipping wine and praising the peach god for our oversupply of the beautifully sweet white fleshed peaches.  However it wasn’t long before our minds turned to dessert and thoughts of peach crumble cake were being discussed.  I have had an ever so slight obsession with crumble lately; I adore its sweet nutty flavour and crunchy texture.  I also adore how simple crumble is to prepare, whenever I am faced with slim pickings for dessert I make an effortless pistachio crumble and sprinkle over grilled nectarines and Greek yoghurt, absolute bliss.

This peach crumble cake is divine.  The cake crumb has a beautiful caramel flavour thanks to the deep, dark, molasses like nature of the brown sugar used and the warming cinnamon flavour and aroma of the cake echoes the sugar beautifully.   The sliced peaches were nestled in the cake batter and when baked almost evolved into a peach jam strewn throughout the cake.  I added hazelnut meal to the batter for a nutty flavour and dense texture and decided from there to use hazelnuts in the crumble.  The crumble was a delightful combination of brown sugar, flour, chopped hazelnuts and melted butter which sat atop the cake to form a wonderful crunchy layer of caramelised sugar and nuts.   When just cool enough to handle R. and I cut thin slices, spooned over a little vanilla yoghurt and returned to our favourite spot on the balcony to take in the beautiful blue sky.

Peach and Prosciutto Salad
Adapted from Jamie Oliver

2 peaches, halved, stones removed and sliced into wedges
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 handfuls of salad greens
8 slices of prosciutto
50gm goats cheese, crumbled
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat griddle pan until hot.  In a small bowl toss peach wedges with olive oil, a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Grill the peaches for a minute or two or until charred and caramelised.  In a small jar combine extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, shake to combine.  In a small bowl combine mixed greens, grilled peaches and a tablespoon or two of the dressing, toss to combine.  Drape the prosciutto over serving platter and top with dressed mixed greens and peaches.  Crumble goats cheese over salad and season with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  Serve immediately.    

White Peach Crumble Cake
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller

2 white fleshed peaches, roughly diced
½ cup caster sugar
½ cup brown sugar
160 gm softened butter
2 eggs
220 gm plain flour
40 gm hazelnut meal
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
165 ml buttermilk
To serve: yoghurt
Hazelnut crumble:
80 gm brown sugar
40 gm plain flour
40 gm coarsely chopped hazelnuts
20 gm butter, melted

Preheat oven to 170°C.  For hazelnut topping, combine ingredients in a bowl, then freeze until required (this stops the topping melting into the cake when it’s baked).
Beat butter and remaining sugars in an electric mixer until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes), add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in dry ingredients then buttermilk.  Stir in peaches, spoon into a 24cm-diameter cake tin buttered and lined on the base with baking paper. Scatter over hazelnut topping, bake until a skewer inserted withdraws clean (1¼-1½ hours). Cool in tin for 30 minutes, then on a wire rack to room temperature. Serve with yoghurt.

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