We’ve had such a glut of peaches this year – huge white-fleshed things with a pretty pink shadow around the edges – that the pantry is filling up with bottles of them to see us through the winter and enough peach jam to supply a major supermarket chain. Quite a few of them have gone into this recipe too.
Heat your oven to 200°C.
Wash the peaches, cut them in half, slip them (or, in my case, wrestle them) off the stone and sit them, cut-side up, in a shallow baking dish big enough to hold them all snugly.
Mince the walnuts quite finely and, in a small bowl, mix them with the brown sugar. Now spoon this mix into the stone-hole in the middle of each peach piece.
Mince the piece of vanilla pod as small as you can, then grate the zest off half a good-sized lemon. In another small bowl, whisk this with the juice of the half-lemon and the maple syrup or runny honey. Now pour this mixture carefully into the bottom of the baking dish, taking care not to remove the walnut mix from the peaches.
Cover the dish with foil and bake the peaches for 15 minutes. Now remove the foil and leave them in the oven for a further 15 minutes or so. If all goes well, they will brown slightly on top. Between the lemon mixture and the juice run by the peaches as they cook, the dish shouldn’t dry out while baking. But it doesn’t hurt to check from time to time: if the peaches are looking withered rather than baked, you could baste them with the liquid, taking care not to displace the walnut topping.
Serve the peaches straight from the oven, with a blob of crème fraiche or – even better – a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.
© Anne Hanley, 2012