Peach Shortcake with Candied Ginger

Dead ripe, fragrant peaches taste wonderful with candied ginger in shortcake.

It feels like Georgia here in North Islesboro, what with all the peaches and tomatoes ripening. Of course, it is nearly Labor Day, and elsewhere in the country, these summer treats have been ripe, or even well past ripe, for a long time now. For about three weeks, I have been doing hand-to-hand combat with the tomato hornworms, which have even attacked the potatoes, and I really thought I was ahead of them until just yesterday I found a few the size of housecats. Well, I exaggerate. Boy, they can eat a lot. Thank goodness there is no peach hornworm.

The peaches are beautiful. On a warm day, I can stand in the midst of the tree, and smell them. Stick your nose in a pile of so-called peaches at the grocery store, inhale, and what do you get?

However, three peach trees all shedding peaches is a bit of a challenge. Jam, chutney, purees for sorbet this winter, canned peaches, peach pie, cobbler, all in their turn. Peach shortcake! This year, I decided I wanted to jazz the shortcake a bit, and stood looking at my pantry shelves trying to think of what to do. I usually keep candied ginger on hand all the time. A little goes a long way, and because I prefer a biscuit-type short cake over the sponge cake types, thinking about shortcake reminded me of some good scones I ate once that had chopped up candied ginger in them. I loved biting down on a gingery bit. I decided ginger and peaches would be good together.

In fact, peach shortcake is good with a little additional chopped ginger sprinkled on top of the peaches, either under or over the whipped cream. I recommend about three tablespoons of chopped ginger in the dough, but if you want to can ginger up the shortcake with a couple teaspoons of dried ginger, and less candied ginger, or add more candied ginger. Suit your own taste.

Ginger Short Cake with Peaches

2 ¼ cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons of sugar

2 teaspoons of powdered ginger (optional)

½ cup (one stick) of butter

3 tablespoons chopped candied ginger

1 cup milk or cream, more if needed

1 to 2 peaches per person, cut up

Sugar to taste

Whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and ginger. Cut in the butter until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the chopped ginger and stir around until the ginger pieces separate and are coated in flour. Add the milk or cream gradually, tossing until a loose ball forms. Knead a couple of times to bring the dough together, then roll or pat out on a floured board to about a half to three-quarters inch thick-. Cut short cakes in size and shape you desire. Bake on a greased baking sheet for fifteen to twenty minutes, until golden brown.

Mix the peaches and sugar together, and let sit until juice forms. Split the shortcakes in half, and spoon peaches over the cakes, add whipped cream. Serve.

Makes four to eight shortcakes depending on size.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.