There's been a chill in the air of late. Autumn is well and truly here and although summer may well be done and dusted, some of it's late harvest has decided to stick around for a farewell party. Yes, stone fruits are something to look forward to come summer, but there's always enough left behind to tide you over till the beginning of autumn. In a last ditch effort to relive summer days, I suggest getting stoned.
Of course I'm not talking about sparking up a doobie and getting fried, but rather enjoying the last that summer has to offer in its stone fruits. I'm having summer weather withdrawals right now, seeing that we never really got to have a proper one on the east coast. So this was my way of sparking up some lost memories of summer.
And really, what's a summer without a peach? The quintessential image of biting into a ripe one, its juice dripping from the corners of your mouth, can make up for all the lucklustre weather we have had for months. They said it was going to last till March and it certainly did, and it looks like we just sailed right into autumn without even the slightest bump. Maybe there was the odd lightning crash and tree falling on one's roof, but other than that, as far as I'm concerned we've been in autumn since December.
So this is my long overdue swan song for the summer we never had- almond cakes topped with roasted peaches. There's only one way to bid her farewell and it's with the best she had to offer. So rosy blushed peaches was an appropriate choice for a goodbye offering.
I actually made this a few weeks back, although never had time to blog about them for a while. I found the peaches at the Entertainment Quarter Farmer's markets going for a song and couldn't pass them up. Then I happened upon a recipe for Almond cakes with roasted apricots on the Australian Gourmet Traveller website, and you know when you see a recipe that you simply must have right now, well that sheer impulse overcame me and I was bent on making this that very same day. I'm sure the droolworthy photograph on the AGT website helped in stoking the urge for them right away.
Seeing as I didn't have apricots but had a heap of cheap peaches lying around, well, you know what I did. When life gives you peaches, you can decide to make a cake.
Peaches, like many other stone fruits, roast very well and there's very little you can do to improve on its flavour. So you might as well stick to the basics, a little sugar and little bit of booze and you have yourself a top notch dessert. It's amazing what wine does to a syrup. The booze of choice for this fare was a Seppelt Rutherglen Tokay that we bought on our last trip to the Hunter Valley- a sweet, honey flavoured dessert wine that was ideal for a fruit based dessert.
I have to say that the almond cakes didn't turn out as dark as they were pictured on the website, so I was a little worried I had made a mistake. But after tasting the cakes, there wasn't anything to worry about. Not sure why there was a lack of colour, but at least it wasn't lacking on taste. Two thumbs up for this recipe and perhaps a better and less illegal way of getting stoned.
Almond cakes with roast Peaches and orange blossom fool
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT: blowtorch (optional)
110g (½ cup) raw caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
8 peaches, halved, stones removed
4 pieces of orange rind, removed with a peeler
80ml (1/3 cup) dessert wine
1 tbsp orange juice
3 tsp orange blossom water
300g crème fraîche
30g brown sugar, sieved
FOR THE ALMOND CAKES
120g (¾ cup) pure icing sugar, sieved
50g almond meal
35g plain all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking powder
2 tbsp finely grated orange rind
2 eggwhites, lightly whisked
90g butter, melted and cooled
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Using a blowtorch, scorch the peach skins until they blister. They should peel off easily.
Combine sugar and vanilla seeds in a bowl and scatter over the base of a roasting pan large enough to hold peaches snugly.
Place peaches, cut-side down, in a single layer in pan, pressing into sugar.
Turn peaches and scatter over orange rind.
Combine wine, orange juice and 2 tsp orange blossom water in a jug and pour around apricots.
Roast for 10 minutes or until just tender and golden.
Set aside to cool, then, using a slotted spoon, remove 4 peach halves from syrup and process using a food processor until smooth. Set aside.
MAKING ALMOND CAKES
For almond cakes, reduce oven to 170ºC.
Combine dry ingredients and rind in a bowl, add eggwhite and fold through until just combined.
Add butter, stir to combine, then divide among six shallow pie moulds, smooth tops and bake for 15 minutes or until golden and centre springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.
Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack placed over a tray.
Spoon a little apricot syrup over cakes and cool completely.
Combine crème fraîche, brown sugar and remaining orange blossom water in a bowl and whisk until thick and smooth. Fold through apricot purée to form a ripple effect. Top each cake with 2 apricot halves and a generous dollop of fool. Serve with syrup to the side.