A Last Taste of Summer

We went peach picking on Sauvie Island last weekend, and signs of summer were everywhere: kids being towed in wagons through the orchard, families picnicking under shaded tables, abundant ripe produce from local farms, and most of all, the sunshine.

These peaches came off the branch with little coaxing--a sign they are ready to eat!

As we walked the rows, hunting for the perfect peach, we noted that there were more peaches on the ground than there were on the trees. The peach-littered ground and the vinegary smell of fermented fruit reminded us that we are in the last days of summer and that this is our last chance to take advantage of the Pacific Northwest’s late summer harvest.

Peach vinegar, anyone?

These peaches were picked ripe, so cooking them seemed like a shame. As delicious as they were whole and unadulterated, we wanted to dress them up. Fresh sliced peaches with a dollop of lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream is hard to beat. Unless that’s sandwiched between two molasses-flecked short cakes. We made these in our Summer Bounty cooking class and they were a success! We love that the cream mixture is unsweetened and lets the sweet, ripe peaches really show off.

For a couple of ingredients in this recipe, I make my own. Unless you have buttermilk around, make your own by mixing 1 cup of reduced fat milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar.  You really just need the buttermilk for its acid content in the shortcakes (it reacts with the baking soda to help them puff up), and the lemon juice or vinegar does the trick. For brown sugar, I follow the theKitchn’s advise, and mix molasses with evaporated cane juice. You can make this as you need it, it never forms hard clumps, and you can control how dark your brown sugar is. Store it in an airtight container for up to 2 months.


(Adapted from eatingwell.com)


Makes 8 shortcakes


5 cups sliced ripe peaches (4-5 peaches)

2 tablespoons (or less, depending on how sweet the peaches are) packed light brown sugar


1 1/4 cups white whole-wheat flour

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbs chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3 Tbs coconut oil

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp water

1 tablespoon raw cane sugar, such as Demerara or turbinado (optional) 


1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup sour cream

½ tsp vanilla extract


  1. To prepare fruit: Toss peaches with 2 tablespoons brown sugar in a medium bowl and set aside, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar.
  2. To prepare shortcakes: Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place white whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter and oil and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Process until the dough comes together.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the dough to a floured surface. Knead several times so the dough comes together. Pat the dough into an approximate 6-by-12-inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out 6 rounds with a 3-inch biscuit cutter (or cookie cutter) dipped in flour; press it straight down without twisting so the shortcakes will rise evenly when baked. Pat the remaining dough back into a 6-by-3-inch oval and cut out 2 more biscuits. Place the shortcakes on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with water and sprinkle with raw sugar (if using).
  5. Bake the shortcakes until the bottoms are golden brown and the tops are beginning to color, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
  6. To prepare topping: Beat cream in a medium bowl with an electric mixer or whisk until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Fold in sour cream until combined.
  7. To serve, split the shortcakes horizontally. Spoon the peaches and juice onto the bottoms, top with the cream mixture and replace the shortcake tops. Serve immediately.

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