Few earthly delights are better than a ripe peach. Its season is brief, and even when there’s a bounty, there’s no guarantee that the one you pick will be sweet and juicy, so there’s a temptation to bake them into pies and cobblers.
Make peach Melba shortcakes with vanilla cream and fresh raspberries
Active time:25 mins
Total time:1 hour
Still, even a less-than-perfect peach can shine with some dressing up. A shortcake, with its buttery, biscuit-like base and soft cream surrounding fresh, juicy fruit is a fair compromise. The peaches retain their meatiness in a cradle of buttery pastry, which offsets their texture and captures any excess juice.
This variation takes its cues from the classic dessert known as a peach Melba. Traditionally, it’s made with gently poached peaches, raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. Here, those flavors are remixed: Fresh, sliced peaches and whole raspberries are tossed with a touch of honey, which draws out their juices. Shortcakes based on a buttery biscuit dough are baked, split and stuffed with the juicy fruit and vanilla-scented whipped cream.
The shortcakes in this recipe are partially inspired by pastry chef Nancy Silverton’s biscuit recipe, which calls for frozen butter that gets grated into the flour mixture. I added a fair amount of sugar and an egg, in addition to buttermilk to help tenderize the dough, so that the finished shortcakes aren’t too crisp and can be eaten entirely with a spoon.
Though I call for whipped cream here, it’s easy enough to swap in vanilla ice cream for a somewhat sweeter — and more traditional — Melba in shortcake form.
Peach Melba Shortcakes
Look for ripe, juicy peaches and then slice them carefully to avoid bruising their flesh. If you can’t find ripe ones, consider nectarines, plums or another stone fruit. Alternately, simmer slices of firmer peaches in a splash of water and drizzle of honey until they soften. Cool, and use in place of the fresh peaches in these shortcakes.
If you can’t find good raspberries, skip them, or use another berry.
To make these biscuits gluten-free, use a gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour.
Want to save this recipe? Click the bookmark icon below the serving size at the top of this page, then go to My Reading List in your washingtonpost.com user profile.
For the shortcakes
- 1 3/4 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (30 grams) cornstarch, see headnote
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 stick (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, frozen
- 2/3 cup (180 milliliters) well-shaken, whole cultured buttermilk, cold
- 1 large egg, cold
For the fruit
- 6 medium (1 3/4 pounds/794 grams) fresh peaches, pitted and sliced
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 pint (80 grams) fresh raspberries
For the whipped cream
- 1 cup (240 milliliters) heavy cream, very cold
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
Make the shortcakes: Lightly grease a large, rimmed baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using the holes of a large grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients. Use your fingers to gently toss the butter with the dry ingredients until clumps the size of small peas form. This should take no more than 30 seconds. Once mixed, if your kitchen is warm, place the bowl in the freezer while you prepare the liquid ingredients.
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk and egg until well combined. Reserve 2 tablespoons of this mixture for brushing on top of the shortcakes. Stir the remainder into the butter-flour mixture, mixing gently with your hands just until a soft dough forms.
Lightly flour a cool work surface and turn the dough out onto it. Press the dough into a rough 1-inch-thick rectangle. Starting on a short end and using a pastry cutter to help you, fold it into thirds, like a letter. Rotate the dough so the long side is facing you and gently press it into a rough, 3/4-inch thick rectangle about 9-by-6-inches. Using a floured 2 1/2- or 3-inch diameter cutter or thin glass, cut 6 rounds out of the dough. Gently place them, evenly spaced, on the prepared baking sheet. (You can press and reroll the dough to get 2 more shortcakes, but these will be somewhat less tender.) Brush just the tops with the reserved egg-buttermilk mixture, and place them in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, while you preheat your oven.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
Prepare the fruit: While the oven preheats, in a large bowl, combine the peaches with the honey and raspberries and gently stir. Set aside at room temperature to allow the fruit juices to start to run.
Bake the shortcakes for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 10 minutes, or until they’re tall and light gold brown. Cool for at least 15 minutes, or until barely warm to the touch.
Make the vanilla whipped cream: In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a bowl and a hand mixer or whisk, combine the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla. Whip on medium-high speed until soft-but-stable peaks form.
To serve, using a small serrated knife, split each shortcake in half through its equator and place the bottom half on a plate. Top it with about 4 slices of the saucy peaches and raspberries. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of the whipped cream. Cap it with the top of the shortcake. Repeat with the remaining shortcakes and fruit, and serve, with any extra fruit and cream on the side.
Per serving (1 filled shortcake)
Calories: 574; Total Fat: 32 g; Saturated Fat: 19 g; Cholesterol: 134 mg; Sodium: 379 mg; Carbohydrates: 65 g; Dietary Fiber: 5 g; Sugar: 17 g; Protein: 8 g
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
From staff writer G. Daniela Galarza.
Tested by Debi Suchman; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you make this recipe? Take a photo and tag us on Instagram with #eatvoraciously.