Poaching the peaches with skin-on citrus fruit gives the light syrup a welcome hint of bitterness and weighs down the slices to make an extra seal when it is barely simmering. It is a striking dessert, with dreamy colours, for the peach skins stain the cooking juice, and best served very chilled in the highest, grandest glass bowl you can find. You could have langues de chat or other thin crispy biscuits with it, but the peaches take on that slightly grainy, suckable texture that tinned pears also have and don’t really benefit much from sidekicks.
25 minutes cooking
4 to 5 hours chilling
4 ripe but not overripe peaches, (I prefer white ones for the colour)
1 vanilla pod
500ml sweet white wine
Water to top up
1 large untreated oranges
3or 4 tablespoons sugar (optional)
Fit the peaches snugly into a medium sized saucepan. Pour the wine in an top up until just covered, with water.
Split the vanilla pod and add to the saucepan.
Slice the orange and lemon and lay the slices over the tops of the peaches.
Bring to the boil then reduce the heat immediately to a very low simmer. Put the lid on the pan and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes, until the peaches are poached but still slightly firm.
Take the pan off the heat and let it cool down completely before putting it in the fridge for at least 3 or 4 hours – overnight is even better.
The next day, drain the poaching liquid from the fruit, remove the vanilla and bring the juice back to the boil to reduce volume and intensify the flavour. Add sugar if you feel it needs some. Leave to cool and then chill again, this time with the peeled peaches, their skin will slide off easily.
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