There are hundreds of different varieties of peach grown in Australia, though mostly the only distinction you will see is between yellow peaches and their aristocratic white cousins. Peaches are available from early summer through to autumn and you should try to buy them ripe and as close as possible to when you plan to use them. They will soften if kept at room temperature but not increase in sweetness.

Selection, storage and preparation: Choose peaches that are blemish free and give slightly when squeezed gently but, most importantly, go by smell; a properly ripe peach has a heady fragrance that has few equals. Store peaches in the fridge for a couple of days but do try to eat them as close as possible to buying them. The world divides on whether or not you should eat the furry skin. A vegetable peeler or paring knife will do the job quite efficiently if you belong to the group of people who wince at the thought of eating peaches skin and all. To cut in half, run a knife down the indent that occurs around the fruit’s equator and twist gently to separate.

Peaches go with: Cream, ice-cream, vanilla, almonds and amaretto, Champagne, dessert wine, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, raspberries, ham, prosciutto and mint. Peach recipes

 Peaches and Cinnamon Cream Cake

Serves 6–8

This recipe has been adapted from Mary Barry’s Peaches and Cream Cake. Mary submitted her recipe to the Afternoon Tea with Royal Doulton competition in a 2007 issue of Australian Country Collections.

1½ cups self-raising flour
¾ cup caster sugar
¾ cup pouring cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped

Cinnamon topping

Icing sugar, for dusting
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup pouring cream
1 ripe peach, stone removed, thinly sliced, to serve
Toasted almond flakes, to serve

Preheat oven 180°C. Grease and line a 23cm springform cake tin. Sift flour into a large bowl and create a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, beat the sugar, cream, eggs and vanilla until mixed to a smooth batter. Pour half of the batter into cake tin. Gently fold peaches into remaining batter and spread on top. Bake for 50–55 minutes. Cool in cake tin before turning out. To serve, prepare topping. Sift icing sugar over the cooled cake. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, set aside. Whip cream to soft peaks and fold through the cinnamon sugar. Spread the cinnamon cream over the cake. Arrange peach slices on top and sprinkle with toasted almond flakes. Peach recipes

 Icy Peach Daiquiri

Makes approximately 1 litre

3 large fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
⅓ cup caster sugar or more, to taste
½ cup white rum
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 cups crushed or shaved ice
1 lime, thinly sliced, to garnish

Place the peaches, sugar, rum and lime juice into a blender and process at high speed until smooth. Add ice and process until just combined. Serve daiquiris in chilled glasses and garnish with lime slices. Peach recipe

 Peach Sorbet

Serves 6–8

1½ cups water
1 cup caster sugar
3 large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
Sprigs of mint, to garnish

Place water and sugar into a saucepan and heat, stirring over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and cool. Puree the chopped peaches with lemon juice in a food processor until smooth. Stir in the cooled syrup. Pour into a shallow freezer-proof container and freeze until just set around the edges. Process in a food processor until smooth. Return to container and refreeze. Repeat this step and add the lightly beaten egg whites while beating. Return to container and cover with a large freezer bag. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. After 4 hours, you may transfer sorbet to suitable container with lid and freeze until required. Let sorbet stand at room temperature for 5 minutes to soften, before serving. Peach recipeThis story was originally published in the December / January 2014  issue of Australian Country. Order the back issue here.

Click here for more recipes.

Recipes and styling Sue Stadler

Props Mrs Ernest’s Emporium

Photography Ken Brass

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