Posts Tagged ‘Raritan Rose’

It’s overcast today, at the tail end of a few alternately windy, thundery/lightningy, rainy days, and the greyness covers every inch of my little place here. But inside my fridge is a plateful of fruit that’s the opposite of grey: pink-and-yellow orbs made entirely of sugar, rainwater and sun, held together by dappled translucent skin. Edible summer.

Every August I put on my old boots, head to an orchard twenty minutes away, and collect as many peaches as I can carry. The day I went last week was sunny and still, and the heat made the air feel drowsy. Even the bees buzzing by seemed half-asleep.

A few varieties were ready for picking. I chose Raritan Rose, a succulent white peach, so ripe they were beginning to drop from their branches. It’s also freestone, meaning the pit comes loose from the flesh easily. (Clingstone, on the other hand, does what its name implies.)

Back at home, I brought out a recipe that must be at least eighty years old, and I hope it never gets lost to humankind. It belonged to my ex’s grandmother, who was raised on a Pennsylvania farm in the 1920s and ’30s. A dessert simply called peach cake, it’s actually more of a custard pie with fruit added.

So many of our oldest and most treasured recipes must come from farms. In the days before anyone had ever heard of triglycerides, when exercise equipment was a plow and a team of horses, thrift and flavor were all that mattered. Extra eggs, cream, butter—they were all there for the taking, and take those farm folks did.

I think you’re going to dig this.

Nana’s peach cake calls for melted butter. That’s hard to work into the dough, which is like pie dough, so I use bits of cold butter and work it in with my fingers to disperse it. I see Nana also eventually embraced prepared foods, as so many housewives and mothers in the 1950s did; a farmer’s daughter’s work never ends, and she would have welcomed the chance to cut a corner or two when she could have. The recipe calls for canned peach halves. Of course you can use those, but this time of year, it’s kind of bats to do that. Use fresh local peaches instead. And if you can get them, use fresh local eggs, or cream, or butter, and you’ll get as close to farm fresh as Nana did. Lucky girl.

1/3 c cold unsalted butter

2 c all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c granulated sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 c heavy cream

2 egg yolks

3 peaches, sliced (if organic, leave the skins on)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Work butter into sifted mixture of flour, baking powder, salt and 2 tbsp sugar until mixture looks like coarse meal. (A lot of recipes, old and new, say this. It’s kind of archaic. It means you want to see lumpy itty-bitty bits of butter throughout.) Pat dough into the bottom of an 8×8 inch pan and press up the sides about 1 “. Arrange the peaches on top and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixed with cinnamon. Bake 15 minutes. Pour over all beaten egg yolks and cream (I love that phrase 🙂 Nana spoke Pennsylvania Dutch, and that’s evidence of that German dialect’s nutty syntax.)  Bake 30 minutes longer. Serve room temperature or cold.


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