Its Summer! And we are back in America for the whole glorious thing.
Berries and stone fruits are around every corner, every farmstand, gleaming in the sunlight like precious gems, calling out to me with handwritten signs that say “$1.99 a pound.” And I’ve got all the feels because just a few weeks ago in Thailand I paid $4 USD for ONE peach imported from Australia because I was desperate to experience the novelty of that first sweet, drippy peach of the season along with everyone else. So now that I'm in America in peak peach season, I went a little cray cray and bought up all the peaches because I can actually afford to now. So after eating quite a few on their own, or in salads heavy on the burrata or halloumi, now I want to make a dessert.
Except my husband doesn’t like cooked, warm fruit.
No cooked fruit peoples! So peach cobbler, pie, crumble, galettes, crisps, clafoutis…. they’re are all out unless I want to be eating a 13 x 9 tray by myself. Which actually, I would enjoy but maybe not the best idea.
So this is the best solution! It involves both a baked good and summer fruit, but the peaches are raw: in their sweetest, juiciest, best form. Everyone wins. Not to mention bourbon is involved. Also not a bad thing.
So for this recipe, imagine instead of making a dozen smaller shortcake biscuits, you just made two massive ones, sliced them in half and piled the layers high with fresh peaches that you spiked with a splash of bourbon & brown sugar as well as soft, pillowy bourbon whipped cream.
What you now have on your hands is a boozy shortcake layer cake that will leave you wondering how it's never crossed your mind to do this before, because it is both delicious and very easy. Not to mention easy on the eyes.
A few notes: feel free to adjust the sugar or booze in this recipe according to your needs or liking. If you don’t already have bourbon on hand, as for some reason I didn’t, (???) I suggest buying a small airplane size. You only need a few tablespoons for this recipe, so that way you don’t have to invest in a big bottle you may not need.
Also, as I typed out this recipe, I realized I used four different types of sugar making this: white in the biscuit, turbinado/raw sprinkled on top of the biscuit for crunch, powdered sugar in the whipped cream because it dissolves most easily, and then a splash of brown sugar in with the peaches because they were on the tart side and I wanted to bring out their sweetness. If you don’t have all these types of sugars on hand, please don’t go out and buy them special for this or feel you can’t make this recipe without them. Just use what you have and taste/adjust as you go.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
FOR THE BISCUIT
3 cups flour
1.5 tsp kosher salt
1.5 tsp baking soda
3 tsp baking powder
2 Tbs sugar
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, very cold
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs + 1 extra for egg wash
1 Tbs heavy cream
1 Tbs turbinado (raw) sugar, for sprinkling
FOR THE PEACHES
4 medium-large ripe peaches
1 Tbs brown sugar
1/2 Tbs bourbon, or to taste
pinch of salt
FOR THE CREAM
1 Pint/ 2 cups heavy cream (minus 1 Tbs used above)
1.5–2 Tbs bourbon
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbs powdered sugar, or to taste
WHAT YOU’LL DO
FOR THE BISCUITS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. If you don’t have cake pans, you can also do this on a large, parchment-lined baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, mix your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Take your cold butter out of the fridge and grate it on a box grater, or cut it into very small cubes. Dump the shredded butter on top of your dry mix and transfer the whole bowl to the freezer to chill while you prep your wet ingredients.
In a small bowl, Whisk two eggs with the buttermilk and vanilla extract until combined.
Remove the bowl from the freezer, and toss the flour butter mixture by hand quickly until the butter is evenly distributed throughout and coated in flour. Pour the buttermilk mixture in and mix until just combined. Lightly flour your countertop or a large cutting board and dump the dough out onto it. Knead the biscuit dough just a few times until it comes together but visible chunks/shreds of butter still remain throughout the dough.
Divide the dough in half and transfer each half to a cake pan. Press it down and out until it almost reaches the edge. (Mine were more like 7-inches in diameter).
If you’re doing it without cake pans, transfer each half of the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet, and do your best to free-form them into circles with smooth edges and the same size.
For the egg wash: whisk together the remaining egg and 1 Tbs whipping cream and brush the tops of the biscuits with it. Sprinkle the brushed surface of each biscuit with 1/2 Tbs raw/turbinado sugar.
Transfer to the oven to bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
Remove and allow to cool in the pan for 5 mins before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool to room temp.
FOR THE PEACHES
While your biscuits cool, prep your peaches. Slice 3 1/2 of your peaches and cut them into bite sized pieces. Put in a bowl with the brown sugar, bourbon, and pinch of salt and toss to coat. Set aside and let the mixture macerate.
With the remaining 1/2 of your last peach, cut those into longer, prettier slices, and set them aside. You will use those to decorate the top of your cake at the very end!
FOR THE CREAM
Pour the 2 cups (minus the 1 Tbs you stole for your egg wash) into the bowl of a stand mixer or a high-sided mixing bowl if using electric beaters. On low speed, mix in your powdered sugar, vanilla and bourbon. Then up your speed to medium and whip your cream until soft peaks form. Put the bowl in the fridge to stay cool while you prep your biscuits for layering.
FOR THE ASSEMBLY
Using a serrated knife, slice the two biscuits in half evenly along the midline as best you can. You are essentially butterflying them, so be as gentle as possible. Use a flat metal spatula to lift the top layer off the biscuit once it’s cut through, if necessary. Place the first bottom layer on a large plate or cake stand. Add 1/3 of your chopped peaches, with their juices, in as even a layer as possible. Then top with 1/4 of your whipped cream in an even layer over the peaches, reaching to the edge of the biscuits. Repeat with the top portion of your next biscuit, then the bottom half of the second biscuit and so on. Top your finished cake with your remaining whipped cream and those pretty peach slices you reserved.
Slice it up as best you can and serve! It might be messy, but is so much better enjoyed immediately*. Serves 6-8.
*We ate some of this cake the next day after refrigerating it overnight, and it sliced beautifully, but the flavor and texture was nowhere near as amazing as it was the same afternoon I made it, soon after assembling it.
Inspired by this big-biscuit strawberry shortcake version by A Cozy Kitchen