Peachy Keen

Summer is at its peak, and so are stone fruits. Peach crisp is calling your name.

By Kristin Belz August 1, 2013 Published in the August 2013 issue of Portland Monthly

Nectarines: peaches without the fuzz.

Image: Kristin Belz

It seems that every week something different from the garden is at its peak this time of year. Or, make that five or six things. This week, it’s stone fruits. Those are the tender, slow to ripen fruits that harbor a big gnarly pit at their core – namely, peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots.

Here in Oregon, late July and early August is their time to shine – or rather, to ooze drippy delicious juices from tender, sometimes fuzzy-skinned flesh. Peaches, so sensuously plump and naturally syrupy when ripe, are especially ideal for an easy baked dessert.

Cobblers and crisps, pandowdies, betties and buckles (don’t forget slumps) are all possibilities when you’ve got a few cups of fresh, molten-ripe stone fruit (or berries) on your hands. Read more about them in our review of Rustic Fruit Desserts, the 2009 book written by two Portland food stars, chef Cory Schreiber (of Wildwood fame) and baker Julie Richardson (of Baker & Spice).

Or head right into the kitchen and put together something tried, true and easy: a peach crisp. Even though pie may be the ground zero of baked fruit desserts (the one we all know how to define) and is, according to the cliché, EASY – truth is, crisps are easier. They require no crust; a crumbly topping of sugar, oats, and flour does the job. 

From Simply in Season, we've adapted a recipe for peach crisp. Other combinations of stone fruits and/or berries can be substituted. (Frozen or canned fruits will do, but who even thinks about them  this time of year?) Though a typical crisp is baked in a large, deep dish, you could bake individual portions in small ramekins.

Peach Crisp

For the filling:
6 cups of chopped peaches

Place the peach chunks into a 10-inch deep dish pie pan and set aside while you make the topping. (Alternatively, you can pre-cook and thicken the fruit, mixing it with about 1/4 cup water, 1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruit), and 2 tablespoons cornstarch, warming it on the stovetop to break down the juices some.  

For the topping:
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
Mix topping ingredients until crumbly. Evenly sprinkle topping over the fruit in the deep dish pie pan. Bake in preheated oven at 375F, until fruit bubbles and top is golden brown, about 30 minlutes. (Frozen fruit may take longer.)  Enjoy hot or at room temperature, with optional ice cream, whipped cream or fresh cream.
On the other hand: maybe it's not fair to give desserts all the attention when it comes to stone fruits. Try slicing peaches with basil chiffonade and tossing in a vinaigrette, perhaps adding a few chunks of soft goat's milk cheese. Here are some savory peach recipes from our archives:
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