For some of us, ripe orchard fruit is our favorite part of the season of bounty, and this classic recipe is a luscious way to use it. If you canít find fresh plums, you can use peaches, nectarines, or apricots instead. Plums, though, give a beautiful purple-golden color to the dish, and a subtle sweet flavor.
Any way you serve these meltingly tender shortcakes stuffed with fruit, they taste like the essence of summer.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup organic unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup buttermilk
2 3/4 pounds plums
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup organic granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons kirsch
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kirsch
1 tablespoon confectionersí sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together into a bowl. Add butter and rub into flour mixture with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir buttermilk in gradually, using a fork, until mixture just holds together. Form dough into a ball and roll out on a well-floured surface with a rolling pin into a 1/2 inch thick round. Fold in half and roll out to 1/2 thickness again. Do this once more.
2. Use a 3-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out 6 rounds, then gather the scraps, roll out again, and cut 2 more rounds. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes, until tops are golden. Cool shortcakes on a rack.
3. Pit and halve 3/4 pound of the plums and place in a blender, processing on high until smooth. Strain into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding skins that remain in the sieve.
4. Combine water and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over high heat and stir about 30 seconds, until slightly thickened. Add this sugar syrup, along with the kirsch, to the plum puree in the bowl.
5. Pit and halve the remaining 2 pounds of plums, cutting into 1/2-inch wedges. Add to puree and toss to combine.
6. In a medium bowl, whisk or beat the cream until just thickened. Add kirsch and confectionersí sugar and continue to beat until mixture forms soft peaks.
7. To serve: Cut each shortcake in half horizontally. On individual serving plates, place the bottom half of a shortcake, cut side up, and spoon some of the plum mixture on top. Add a dollop of whipped cream and cover with a shortcake top.
Serves 6 to 8.
Inspired by Summer, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).