Some things in life are not to be messed with, period. My Grammy’s shortcake recipe and fresh peaches are two of them. This is Peach Shortcake exactly as shortcake—and peaches—were meant to be.
With millions of new recipe ideas a short Pinterest click away, it’s easy to feel the pressure to bake and cook only the things we’ve never tried before. I get caught up in the pretty colors, the crazy flavor combinations, the buzz words I don’t really understand. (Am I the last person who still can’t define paelo?) I feel I shouldn’t bother giving you a killer caramel brownie recipe, because someone else already stuffed that same caramel brownie with Reeses and sprinkles and Oreos and Nutella…and really, that person should mail me one, but my point is: Do simple, classic, un-messed-around-with recipes have a place anymore?
I think they do. I think we need recipes like my Grammy’s shortcake, and we need to cover that shortcake with fresh fruit and real whipped cream.
I am all for flavor innovation. Heck, I turned roasted scallions into salad dressing and poured it all over a quinoa salad. Some foods, however, deserve to be left at their most traditional, because they are already perfect. My Grammy’s old-fashioned Peach Shortcake is one of them.
When I called my Grammy for her shortcake recipe, I almost started laughing it is so simple. No need to roll, chill, or stamp out the dough. No secret spices. We simply work cold butter into flour, a little sugar, and baking powder. We pour it into a pan, and we bake for 20 minutes.
Out of the oven comes the most warm, wonderful shortcake. It touches every part of me, comforts my soul, and makes me feel as if there is nothing else more I need in life except for a slice of this shortcake, juicy summer fruit, and a dollop of whipped cream.
And OK, Grammy did have one secret ingredient.
Mix with melted butter and slather your Peach Shortcake generously. This recipe may be a classic, but Grammy still knows best.
Try this Peach Shortcake with any (or all) of your favorite summer fruits. It’s wonderful with a mix of strawberries and blueberries, plums and raspberries, or apricots and cherries.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (scant)
- 1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces (1 stick)
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/3 cup cold milk of choice (I used skim, but I’m sure Grammy uses whole)
- 4 ripe peaches (feel free to sub strawberries or any mix of your favorite fruits)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tablespoons dark rum
- Whipped cream
- Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch pan and set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade or a large mixing bowl, sift flour with sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add butter and lightly pulse (or cut in butter by hand), until the butter is the size of small peas (you should still be able to see the pieces of butter.) Add well-beaten egg and milk, just until incorporated.
- Quickly press the batter into the prepared pan, touching it as little as possible with your fingers to keep the butter cold. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top is lightly golden. Cut into squares.
- To quickly peel peaches: Cut a small “X” on the bottom of each. Slip into a large pot of boiling water. Boil for about 30 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and submerge immediately in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Slip off the skins with your fingers, then slice peaches.
- In a small bowl, combine the slices peaches and 2 teaspoons granulated sugar. Set aside. In a separate small bowl, combine the melted butter and rum.
- To serve: While still warm, split each shortcake square in half horizontally. Brush the cut sides generously with rum butter. Place 1 buttered later on the plate, cover with peaches and whipped cream, top with the second shortcake layer, then cover with additional fruit and whipped cream.
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