It’s that time of year again – the time for stone fruits. Not only are plums and nectarines on the supermarket shelves, but so are peaches. When my peach tree directly under my bedroom patio is heavy with fruit ripening in the sun, the beautiful peachy perfume that the fruit gives off fills my bedroom and all I want to do is rub myself in that wonderful aroma.
When the desire takes me I take great pleasure in plucking the fruit from the branches and sinking my teeth deep into the juicy, warm fragrant flesh. They are so filled with juice it runs down my chin and wrists. Other than eating the peaches fresh from the tree I like to make chutneys and purees for fresh peach ice-cream and they are superb grilled and eaten in salads. During the season I am not allowed to get away with not baking a cheese cake topped with grilled, buttery honeyed peaches. It’s a firm favourite in my household.
Something you might like to know is that peaches freeze quiet well to use later on to make ice-cream. This luscious stone fruit originated in China and has been cultivated at least since 1000 B.C.E. The peach tree is actually considered to be the tree of life and peaches are symbols of immortality and unity. Peach blossoms are carried by Chinese brides. In fact if you look at a lot of Chinese fabrics and paintings you will see the peach blossom in them. To this day I’m told that China remains the largest world producer of peaches, with Italy second. Talking about the Italian peach…with its downy skin lightly flushed with red colouring and hanging on a tree in the hot Italian sun, just waiting to be plucked and eaten… And eaten it was, I can tell you. I never tasted anything quite so exquisite in my life.
A few little peachy tips: once sliced peaches tend to go brown. Splash them with fresh lime, or lemon juice to stop this happening. If your peaches are too firm and unripe, just pop them into a brown paper bag for a day or two. This normally helps them to ripen. Don’t be tempted to split open a peach pip and eat the nut inside – the peach pit contains hydrocyanic acid, which is a poisonous substance.
Cheese cake topped with Grilled Honey Buttered Peaches
Ingredients for the cheese cake:
- 200g ginger biscuits, crumbed
- 100g salted butter, melted
- 5 large eggs
- 275g caster sugar
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbls lemon juice
- 750g cream cheese softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1tbls cake flour
- 250ml double thick cream lightly beaten
Pre-heat oven to 170˚C.
Before you get started with the baking, line the base of a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin with baking paper.
Now place the biscuit crumbs into a bowl and add the melted butter, mix together well and then press onto the base of the prepared cake, smooth down with th back of a spoon. Chill till you need it.
Place the eggs and caster sugar in the bowl of your food processor and whisk till light and fluffy, add the remaining ingredients except the cream and mix together well, fold in the cream, and before pouring the mixture into the prepared cake tin, make a collar by cutting a strip of baking paper long enough to go all the way around the cake tin. Cut the strip of baking paper about 3cm higher than the top of the baking tin. Roll it into a cigar and unravel it and place it around the inside of the baking tin, secure the ends together with a paper clip, gently spoon the mixture into the baking tin.
Place the cheese cake into the oven and bake for 80-90 minutes, the cheese cake should have a tiny wobbly spot in the centre, as the cake cools the centre will firm up. Store the cheese covered in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.
Arrange peaches over the top and dust lightly with icing sugar before bringing it to the table.
Ingredients for the Grilled Honey Buttered Peaches:
- 6 large peaches halved and pitted
- 100g softened Butter
- 2 tbls runny honey
- Seeds from 1 Vanilla Pod
- 1 tbls brown sugar
Place the peaches onto a baking tray
Cream together the butter, honey and vanilla seeds, spoon onto the peaches , sprinkle with a little brown sugar and grill in a hot oven until the peaches start to bubble and turn golden brown.
© Jenny Morris 2014