Tuesday, July 17, 2018

In a Slump? Just Add Peaches!


On our first camping trip of the summer, Dave baked perfect blueberry scones in his giant, footed cast iron Dutch oven—I found out it's named "Ol' Dutch" from the masking tape stuck to its carrier—and hash browns and eggs over the open fire on his as-yet-unnamed Lodge griddle.

He also had plans to make a peach slump in yet another, smaller Dutch oven ("Li'l Dutch"?), for which we'd lugged it and the four-and-a-half pounds of Baird Family Orchards fruit on our second trip of the summer. Unfortunately fate intervened when I threw out my back, forcing us to return home a day early.

Adding the dumpling topping.

Undaunted, with peaches ripening rapidly and temperatures soaring into the high nineties, it was untenable to turn on the oven, so he fired up the campstove in the back yard. It was both a great dry run for the recipe, which he borrowed from Corey Schreiber and Julie Richardson's classic Rustic Fruit Desserts, and a chance to find out exactly what a "slump" is. (Though originally we had been perfectly willing to try it out our camp-mates, since we never shy away from experimenting on our friends.)

With peaches oozing out when served, it's divine.

A slump is defined by the authors as a "simple steamed pudding" similar to a cobbler but made on the stovetop rather than in the oven. In the case of this recipe, the fruit is mixed with sugar and cornstarch then cooked briefly to activate the cornstarch and thicken the mixture, then a very wet biscuit dough (resembling a batter) is spooned on top, covered and simmered. The result is a soft, dumpling-like top rather than the drier, browned biscuit-y topping on a cobbler, but this version has a lovely lightness to it that would pair well with cream or crème fraiche.

And yes, you can expect it to appear on some future outdoor excursion. Stay tuned!

Peach Slump
Adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts

For the fruit:
4 1/2 lbs. peaches
3/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

For the topping:
1 c. all-purpose (AP) flour
1/2 c. unsifted cake flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 c. (1 cube) cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2" cubes
1 c. buttermilk or milk

Peel, pit and slice the peaches, making sure to do this over a large mixing bowl so you can collect all the juices. Separately, in a small bowl, mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt, then add to the peaches with the lemon juice. Scrape peach mixture into a 10-12" non-reactive skillet or Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid. Let stand for 15 min.

Over medium-low heat, bring the mixture to a low simmer, gently stirring it occasionally to prevent sticking. Simmer for 2 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cardamom together in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and toss until evenly coated. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it is the size of peas. Add buttermilk or milk and stir until the mixture just comes together (it will be a wet dough).

With a large spoon or ladle, place the dough on top of the fruit in 8 or so portions, distributing it evenly over the fruit. Return to the stovetop and bring to a gentle simmer over low heat. Cover and simmer for another 18 to 20 minutes, or until the dough is puffy and cooked through when tested with a toothpick or bamboo skewer. Remove from heat, uncover and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

If you want to make this on a camping trip, Dave recommends mixing the dry ingredients for the topping together and placing them in a gallon zip-lock bag, then taking the milk, butter, sugar, cornstarch and lemon (or lemon juice) separately, as well as pans, pastry blender, measuring spoons, mixing bowls, etc. As pictured in the photos, it's super easy to make on a two-burner camp stove.

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