Recently Jeffrey Steingarten said on Iron Chef that he "had never had anything made with peaches, that was as good as a perfect peach". Unfortunately it's hard to find a perfect peach, but I know what he means.
In Minnesota the best peaches come from Colorado as our climate prohibits most fruits from growing here. For many years, I didn't buy fresh peaches at all because they never ripened without being mushy.
The best way to judge a fresh peach is to smell it. Peaches that don't have a peachy aroma never become sweet, juicy and tender. When peaches are really hard, place them in a brown paper bag and let then ripen at room temperature for a few days. They should yield slightly to gently pressure.
On a college trip out east, I introduced my daughters to fresh peaches. We bought them at a roadside stand directly from the farmer. They were slightly warm, surrounded with tender skin, perfectly sweet and juicy. After the first mouth-watering bite, we had juice running down our chins.
For dinner with friends recently, I served warm Peach Kuchen with ice cream. Here's the recipe.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, cut up
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 large peaches, peeled, pitted, cut into thick slices
2 egg yolks
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, salt and baking powder in food processor bowl; pulse to mix. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into a 13x9 inch baking pan. Bake 15 minutes.
Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Arrange peach slices over crust. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake 15 minutes.
Combine cream, egg yolks and almond extract. Pour over peaches and continue baking until peaches are tender and juices are thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.