Published July 1, 2008.
Ripe farm stand peaches lead to shortcakes drenched in sweet juice. But what if you're stuck with hard, mealy supermarket peaches?
Making peach shortcake with typical supermarket peaches often produces a flavorless filling over a dry, crumbly biscuit.
We wanted to develop a foolproof recipe for peach shortcake that would work with any peach, regardless of quality.
Most recipes for peach shortcake simply call for replacing the berries with peaches. But supermarket peaches don't work as well as strawberries. The difference is due to the fruits' adaptation to maceration (soaking the fruit in sugar). Maceration not only extracts juice from the fruit but also sweetens it; the more juice the sugar extracts, the moister and more flavorful the shortcake. Strawberries release more liquid than peaches during maceration since their cell walls are weaker and more permeable and their nubby exterior creates more surface area than found on a smooth peach. To even the playing field, we first sliced the peaches very thin (maximizing their surface). We microwaved a few of the peaches with peach schnapps until completely tender, mashing these cooked peaches to create a peach jam to be added to the rest of the (uncooked) peaches. And orange juice added further moistness insurance, contributing a sweet, fruity background without being over assertive. Finally, while we liked a classic buttermilk biscuit for the shortcake, we needed to add an egg and mechanically develop more gluten (by vigorous stirring) to make a cake dense enough to hold up the heavy fruit.list of recipes