Preserves can be tedious, frustrating and totally fattening, but if you’re able to consume your compotes quickly, you can feast on fast late-summer peach jam and cream biscuits
By Louise Crosby
There’s one way of making jam that involves sterilizing jars, adding pectin, cooking the daylights out of the fruit and possibly sealing the jars with wax. Thankfully for those of us who aren’t up for all that rigamarole but still like the occasional spread of home-made jam on a biscuit hot from the oven, there’s another, much easier way. Granted, you have to eat it up quick or store it in the freezer, but somehow it tastes fresher, less sweet, more like the fruit itself.
Thanks goes to Mark Bittman for this easy recipe for peach or nectarine jam, as published in the New York Times. He adds just the right amount of ginger to not overpower the fruit, and honey instead of sugar. Since 1 1/2 pounds of peaches equals only four good-sized peaches, and you probably bought more than that considering the abundant crop of Niagara peaches for sale everywhere now, I’m suggesting you make a another batch swapping the ginger for a vanilla bean. Get yourself some cute jars and labels from IKEA, and you’ve got great little late-summer gifts for the important people in your life.
Here is also a recipe for cream biscuits adapted slightly from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham. The addition of whipping cream guarantees a rich, tender biscuit that showcases this jam brilliantly.
Fast Late-Summer Peach Jam
1½ pounds peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon peeled and minced ginger, or 1 vanilla bean
⅓ cup honey, or to taste
If using ginger, combine ingredients in a small-to-medium saucepan. If using vanilla bean, cut bean down the middle lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and add seeds, along with the bean, to other ingredients in the pan. Fruit should be at a depth of a couple of inches. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Adjust heat so mixture bubbles steadily. If it looks too soupy, use a higher heat to reduce it; if there is not much liquid, use lower heat to avoid burning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is liquid but thick, about 40 minutes or more. Remove vanilla bean.
Cool and refrigerate mixture; it will thicken as it cools. Store, refrigerated, for up to a week, or freeze.
Makes about 2 cups of jam
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 to 1½ cups heavy (whipping) cream
⅓ cup butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Use an ungreased baking sheet or line with parchment for easy clean up.
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk the dry ingredients to blend. Slowly add 1 cup of the cream, stirring. Gather the dough together gently; when it holds together and feels tender, it is ready to knead. If the dough seems shaggy and pieces are dry and falling away, slowly add enough additional cream to make the dough hold together.
Place the dough on a lightly floured board and knead for 1 minute. Pat the dough into a square that is about ½ inch thick and cut into 12 squares, or, using a cookie cutter, cut into rounds. Dip each biscuit into the melted butter so all sides are coated. Place the biscuits 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are lightly browned. Serve hot.
Makes 1 dozen biscuits
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