Shortcakes are on my short list (no pun intended) of go-to desserts when there is little time or equipment available (read – dinner at my dad’s house for a big family gathering.) Normally I opt for a strawberry or mixed berry variety, but this peach version has been taunting me since last summer and it was time to give it a go. I’ve been doing my very best to take advantage of peach season before it is gone and this seemed the perfect fit. Shortcakes are also great for entertaining large groups because almost everything can be made in advance and then simply assembled when it’s time for dessert. The biscuits are just barely sweet, an ideal counterbalance to the sweet, juicy fruit topping and the airy whipped cream. Such a perfect ending to a summer get together, don’t you think?
For the fruit:
2 lbs. firm, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced ¼-inch thick, divided
6 tbsp. sugar, divided
2 tbsp. peach schnapps*
For the biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
½ tsp. salt
2/3 cup cold buttermilk
1 large egg
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
For the whipped cream:
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
To prepare the fruit, combine about three quarters of the peach slices in a large bowl with 4 tablespoons of the sugar. Toss to combine and let stand 30 minutes. Combine the remaining peaches, remaining sugar, and peach schnapps in a medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high until the peaches are bubbling, about 60-90 seconds, stirring once or twice during cooking. Crush the peaches into a coarse pulp with a potato masher. Let stand 30 minutes.
To make the biscuits, preheat the oven to 475˚ F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a medium bowl, then whisk in the melted butter, stirring until the butter forms small clumps. Add the liquid ingredients to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until a dough comes together and no dry ingredients remain. Using a greased 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop a mound of dough and drop it onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough spacing the biscuits about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle extra sugar over the top of the dough mounds. Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool at least 15 minutes before assembling.
When you are ready to serve the shortcakes, add the heavy cream and sugar to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form, being careful not to over-beat. Blend in the vanilla.
Split each biscuit and place the bottom half on a serving plate. Spoon a few tablespoons of the crushed peach mixture over the biscuit, then top with some of the peach slices and a dollop of whipped cream. Replace the top half of each biscuit and serve.
*You can sub orange liqueur or freshly squeezed orange juice