My great grandmother Mimi, one of the relatives I was very close to, most drawn to because of her cooking and baking skills. She had this knack of baking with grace, ease and wonderment--all the while chatting away, explaining to me the smallest details of everything from pie crusts to getting all the air out of the freshly canned bread & butter pickles. She lived in the lower part of Washington state. In a small, very rural town. How rural? Well, there was no mail delivery, only a post office. The local pharmacist still served soda jerks on the marble bar. The soda fountain stools were bright red and they rotated; I always chose the broken stool as it would still turn, but turn unevenly--giving the best ride. Most of the roads in town were not yet paved and some even had tumbleweeds!
I would visit Mimi almost every summer. She was one of those people who made you cookies, cleaned and ironed fresh sheets for your bed AND sewed you brand new clothes all before you came for a visit. Then during the visit she would spend all of her time with you reading, baking, showing you how to chop wood, explaining various insects to you and telling you the best way to plants tomatoes. She wanted to teach me everything. I did my best to listen and absorb, but gardening was not my thing. I paid attention to baking though.
Mimi was an avid baker. What impresses me most about her was the fact that she didn't have a stove stove. She had a fire burning antique stove; those old fashioned kinds. I didn't think anything of it as a kid, but looking back I think how hard it must have been to bake cookies? Getting the right temp even for cakes?
Every morning she'd be up by 5am, taking from her pile of chopped wood out back, stuffing them into the four burners along with sticks and paper, lighting it, getting a good fire going, stoking it with some more wood, then placing the metal covers back on. From there she'd heat up her water for coffee and heat up the giant old cast iron pans for bacon and eggs. Amazing.
The summers up by her would be hot, desert like hot, and on those days we would gather up the picnic baskets, filled with meats, cheeses, and just from the oven peanut butter cookies--head up to the local river to swim and eat. On our way home we'd stop for fresh peaches, as well as aplets and cotlets
The peaches. Man, I remember those peaches, they were like candy, so sweet, so juicy and what I remember most, they were HUGE. Sure I was a kid and everything is bigger as a kid, but even watching my Mimi eating a peach, it looked giant in her hands. We'd take home peaches for shortcake. Her shortcake biscuits were so good. They always fell apart in your hands because they were so light and airy. Her biscuits were made with lard and a touch of bacon grease. I remember watching her use buttermilk too, thinking how gross it was because it was so thick and chunky. Always asking her why is she using sour milk? She always reply with "it makes the biscuit tasty!" And when she said that I knew to pay the chunky, sour milk no mind, to just wait for the finished biscuit--it'll be fine.
The real show stealer of this recipe is the white chocolate infused whipped cream. Frankly my husband said that you could just serve the whipped cream on its own and call it dessert. He's right. This is a super tasty treat-- Decadent for sure. We indulge in this a couple times during the summer. Would go wonderfully with strawberry shortcake, blueberry, cherry...oh the possibilities are endless.
peach shortcake with white chocolate-whipped cream
for the buttermilk biscuits:
Use whatever recipe you like best.
I love this one from pinchmysalt.com
for the peaches:
6 large peaches, ripe
3-5 TB sugar (use as much sugar as you like; I used about 4 TB)
½ ts vanilla extract (optional)
juice of one lemon
white chocolate sauce:
¾ cup white chocolate chips
2 TB heavy cream
white chocolate-whipped cream:
½ cup heavy cream
1 TB crème fraiche, room temp
1 TB confectioners sugar
the melted white chocolate sauce from above
Place the bowl and beaters you will use for the whipped cream in the freezer.
Once your white chocolate sauce is melted and done, you will have to work fast to get the whipped cream done, as we don’t want the white chocolate sauce to harden.
for the peaches:
peel the skin off the peaches and do a rough chop. Place in small saucepan with the juice of one lemon, the sugar and the vanilla. Cook over low-medium heat until peaches are nice and soft (about 15-20 minutes). Stirring constantly.
Remove from heat, taste test and see if it’s sweet enough for you. Set aside.
For the white chocolate sauce:
In a small saucepan, over LOW heat, melt the white chocolate chips with the heavy cream. Stirring constantly. Do not walk away, just keep stirring. White chocolate chips have a tendency to melt then harden fast; just keep stirring, scraping the bottom of the saucepan. You will end up with a nice thick white chocolate ganache.
For the white chocolate-whipped cream:
Now working fast, take your bowl and beaters out of the freezer. Pour in the heavy cream, add in the confectioners sugar and the crème fraiche. Beat until “just” whipped. Then slowly, with beaters running, add in the white chocolate sauce in drizzles, not one lump sum, but drizzle the white chocolate sauce while the beaters are running. Stop when you have “almost” stiff peaks. Don’t overbeat.
This will not be a light airy whipped cream because of the heavy melted chocolate. If you want to be fancy, pipe the finished whipped cream in a pastry bag and pipe over the shortcakes.