It was lunch at the excellent Compasses at Pattiswick that brought this about. Not that I didn’t like or hadn’t tried roasted peaches before, but it reminded me what a glorious way to use fresh seasonal fruit this is – all the more since I have some excellent vanilla pods with which to cook the peaches.
This will not be exactly the same recipe as used at the Compasses, since I’m pretty sure they used a blowtorch to caramelise the sugar on their peaches, but it’s still damn good. In fact, there are lots of ways you can do the dish, one of which would be to make caramel with sugar and water (and salt if you fancy salted caramel), or indeed just water and/or alcohol, sugar and lemon juice to make a syrupy mixture and juicier peaches. The way I’ve described gives deliciously tender roasted peaches ready to be served with ice cream, crème fraîche or any other accompaniment you fancy.
Note that I’ve chosen to skin the peaches, but this is not essential. The skins can be tough, but go with what feels right to you. It is much better to choose ripe peaches for this dish, or to ripen them yourself in a warm location for a few hours.
However, don’t stint on proper vanilla pods – despite a good friend on mine insisting on an expensive and good quality vanilla extract. If you’re going to do that regardless, note that vanilla extract is made from pods, where vanilla essence is a chemical flavouring and not at all the same thing.
As for sugar, the best to use is light demerera sugar, but in this case I used golden caster sugar. This has the benefits of being light and crunchy, while melting or dissolving easily. In this case, I made vanilla sugar by putting a few pods in with the sugar in a sealed container for a few days beforehand.
- Ripe peaches (1 per person), skinned and halved
- Light demerera sugar/vanilla sugar
- Softened butter
- Lemon juice
- 1 vanilla pod per two peaches
- Cream or ice cream to serve
- Choose a shallow ovenproof dish and turn your oven to moderate but not excessive heat. In my case I started the peaches off at the bottom of the roasting oven of the Aga, then put them in the warming oven to cook through gently without burning.
- Split the vanilla pods and extract the seeds. Mix with butter, lemon juice and sugar, then coat the peaches with it in the dish. Ideally cut side should be down, but you will see I chose to do it the other way up.
- Put the vanilla pods back in the dish and sprinkle over more sugar.
- Cook for c15-20 mins until tender.