The Greeks carried peaches from China to Europe, and conquistadores carried them from Spain to America. But, growing up, as far as I knew, they were carried in cans to Waldbaum’s by Del Monte. Crayola-gold and Spaldeen-bald, they bobbed in sticky syrup for family dessert several nights a week, alternating with Mr. Del’s fruit cocktail or diced pears.
Did I know peaches were either clingstone or freestone, either white- or yellow-fleshed, the white being sweeter, the yellow having more of an acidic tang? Did I know that they don’t ripen after picking, just soften? That they can be kept for up to a week in the fridge, or that their pits need to be removed before cooking due to a potentially harmful substance? No, I didn’t. Not any of it.
But I know it now, and luxuriate in their sweetness and perfume, their blushing velvet wrap. Pastry Chef Caryn Stabinsky knows it, too. At Loaf (387 Main St, Armonk 914-273-4320: loaf-cafe.com), the bakery/cafe she owns with her husband, Chef Geoffrey Fischer, summer’s essence is distilled in her tarragon-scented peach galette, the fruit first pickled in an elixir of kaffir lime, mustard seed, and rice-wine vinegar. “It’s my version of a fruit tart,” she says, noting that it combines her love of stone fruit, with its play of sweet and tart, with herbs like tarragon and shiso leaf. And then there’s texture, which is crucial, she says, “to the sensory part of eating. I cook fruit as little as possible—the less manipulated, the better.” And so her galette’s shell is crispy, its chiboust pastry cream silky, its pickled fruit, tender-firm. Her husband’s peach crêpe is its savory partner, a swoon of smoked-paprika-laced peaches, piquant arugula, and melting Gruyère.
Indulge at Loaf or at your local greenmarket, where just-picked peaches await your own fruit bowls, tart pans, and compote dishes. Or consider canning—the glass variety; no Del Monte tin.
Peach Crumb Muffins (Courtesy of Caryn Stabinsky of Loaf)
(Yield: 6 muffins)
For crumb topping: 1 cup all-purpose flour 3 oz unsalted butter ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
4 oz unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
4 oz milk
9 oz all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
5 peaches, peeled, in small dice
Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly oil muffin tins or use paper liners. For crumb topping, melt butter and mix in rest of ingredients. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl to incorporate.
With mixer on, add 1 egg, half the milk, then repeat, scraping down sides of bowl in between.
In medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into wet egg mixture and mix until well combined, scraping bottom of bowl to incorporate.
Gently stir diced peaches into batter. Pour into muffin tins. Sprinkle chunks of crumb on top. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until set and crumb is golden.