Summer is not an easy season for a food writer. You’d think that having choices is good, but in reality the abundance of colorful fruit at my grocery shop drives me nuts. I just can’t make up my mind what to cook or bake first, ending up – each and every time – with way too much stone fruits and berries. Every. Single. Time.
We are eating fresh strawberries, apricots and peaches every other day, and yet I fear summer’s bounty might end without notice, leaving me high and dry. Ridiculous, I know. Maybe that’s what freezing winters and lousy springs do to you.
Perfectly ripe stone fruits, eaten with your hands, that is a pleasure hard to beat. But sometimes apricots can be a tad mealy and sour, peaches refuse to turn soft and plums are already past their best day. Then poaching & roasting can do magic!
Of course, you can use perfectly ripe and sweet stone fruits as well – it’s just that this whole poaching-roasting part brings out the best in them, so it doesn’t really matter, if the fruits lack any tenderness or sweetness. Either way, the result is the essence of what I love about summer, and a fixed staple in our fridge. Yesterday morning we had it on Greek yogurt – the amount of fruits may have easily surpassed the dairy – today on David Lebovitz’ walnut ice cream with crazy good wet walnuts. Last week at least three times with vanilla custard. If no kids are involved, I highly recommend using a mix of fruit juice and rosé wine or port for the liquid part (the Gilli Malvasia I used for our latest batch was perfect, thx Hande!) . The reduced boozy syrup takes it from being a sweet treat to complete indulgence. And while you can add a hint of spice (cinnamon, ginger or cardamom come to mind), the poached-roasted fruits usually don’t need that kind of enhancement – the preparation intensifies their flavor to the max.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (~390°F). Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and rub them into the sugar using your fingers (they will smell heavenly afterwards ;) I like to use preserving sugar (1:1), because it helps thicken the syrup, but regular caster sugar is fine, too.
Wash, pad dry and prepare the fruits. Depending on their size either half (cherries), quarter (apricots, plums) or slice (peaches, nectarines) and discard their stones. Add to a roasting pan, distribute evenly and sprinkle with the vanilla sugar (you can add the bean, too) and other spices – if using. Mix well, let marinate for a couple of minutes, then pour the juice and/or wine over the fruits and poach-roast in the oven (middle level) for 15 minutes. Take out, stir carefully and ladle some syrup over dry fruit parts, then bake another 10 to 15 minutes until the fruits are really tender and the syrup has thickened a little (it will thicken further, once cooled).
Take out, either serve while still hot – especially good with ice cream – or fill into a large jar and keep in the fridge once cooled down. The fruits keep well for at least a couple of days, but it takes great restraint not to eat them straight from the jar.
Poached, roasted & drunk stone fruits
Recipe source: own creation
Active time: ~15 minutes, baking time: ~1/2 hour
Ingredients (for 1 large jar):
1 vanilla bean
~3-4 EL preserving sugar 1:1 (caster sugar is fine, too)
~1 kg stone fruits (cherries, plums, apricots, peaches,...)
150-200 ml fresh orange juice/port wine/red or rosé wine (mix to your liking)
optional: spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom
serve with jogurt, ice cream, porridge, rice pudding, custard,...