Not to brag, but I’m pretty sure I got the last few peaches of the season from my local farm stand.
I showed up looking for the last of summer’s beautiful stone fruits, not quite ready to say goodbye to the sun just yet…I browsed the boxes of produce laid out under their red and white striped tent, snatching up some beautiful Italian plums and passing up the apples and pears. (There will be many weeks of apples and pears to come. Julia Child’s pear tart is on my mind, but that won’t feel right until mid-to-late November, at the soonest. For now, let me cling to summer like I’m clinging to my 20s.)
Thinking Yakima’s peaches were a thing of the past, I made my way to the checkout counter with my plums.
“You don’t happen to have any peaches, do you?”
The friendly young cowboy in the cream-colored hat and tight t-shirt shook his head no. I thought not, I confirmed in my head, Summer must really be over…
But peaches (and maybe summer, too) hadn’t given up on me yet! Another associate from the farm who was stocking pickled veggies of various assortments chimed in–
“We have about four or five left in that far box over there!”
It was true: tucked into the low corners of these deep boxes were a few perfectly imperfect seasonal stragglers.
Containing a whoop and a holler, I snatched up these sweet rays of sunshine and paid for my flavored fructose. Now, what to do with these oddballs…
After recently making a dang delicious plum pie, I decided pie should be out of the picture. I’d already made peach cobbler this season, so that didn’t quite feel appropriate either. Then, I remembered the about-to-mold bread I’d stuffed in the freezer last week. Bread pudding it is, I thought.
When I think peaches, I think cream, honey, vanilla, almond, and whiskey. Why not add a few friends to the bread pudding party?
I made ginger simple syrup, the whiskey custard, cut my beautiful peaches, and tore my thawed bread into chunks.
I soaked the bread and peach mixture in milky custard and applied some “secret surprise creme fraiche” to the middle of the pudding.
Baked, brushed with simple syrup for a little sheen, then baked some more:
Obviously I had to eat this with some less-than-secret creme fraiche too.
Whiskey Peach Bread Pudding
Note: In the past, I have made this pudding using sourdough bread with excellent results. Whole wheat or rye would also be delicious, but the simpler the bread, the more your peaches will stand out. I have also subbed oat milk for regular milk which worked beautifully. The orange zest and ginger syrup are optional, but they both contribute to the desired complexity of this dish. I enjoy cutting my peach chunks into a variety of shapes and sizes, but if you prefer a more uniform dish, feel free to cut them as close to identical as you like.
- 1 c water
- 1 c sugar
- 1” or 0.5 oz peeled ginger, cut into matchsticks
- 2 Tbs whiskey
- Butter for baking dish
- 2 c whole milk or alternative milk
- ½ c sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split down the middle with seeds scraped out, 1 tsp vanilla bean paste, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Grated zest of 1 large orange (optional)
- 4 Tbs whiskey
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 6 c bread, torn into ragged chunks
- 2-3 c peaches (about 2 large peaches), skin on, cut into 1-2 inch chunks or slices
- ¼ c creme fraiche
Generously butter a bread pan and set aside.
Bring water, first measurement of sugar, and ginger matchsticks to a gentle boil. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until syrup has gained viscosity and ginger flavor. Stick a teaspoon into the syrup after 3 minutes; it should appear thicker than water and coat the spoon nicely. Keep boiling until syrup is of a similar consistency to maple syrup, but no more than 10 minutes. When syrup is of desired consistency, remove from heat and stir in first measurement of whiskey. Strain mixture into a jar or bowl using a fine sieve, chinois, or cheesecloth placed over a colander and let cool.
Place milk, sugar, and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan over medium heat until it is at a bare simmer. Remove from heat and add optional orange zest, and salt. Set aside for 10 minutes, or until you can place your hands on the walls of the sauce pot without burning yourself. Add 4 Tbs whiskey and stir. When the mixture is tepid (or room temperature) to the touch, whisk in blended eggs.
Heat oven to 350°F. Place bread and peach chunks and slices into a large bowl. Pour milk mixture over the top and let soak 15-20 minutes, gently stirring after 10 minutes with a wooden spoon or your hands.
Spoon half of the bread and peach mixture into the prepared bread pan. Dab the surface of the mixture with creme fraiche in teaspoon-sized spoonfuls. Pour the rest of the bread over the top and bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and brush the top with whisky-ginger syrup until the entire pudding is covered in glaze. Bake 10-20 minutes more, or until bread has started to take on a golden color and peaches on the surface of the pudding begin to blacken.
Let sit at least 30 minutes to cool before cutting and serving. Best with a dollop of yogurt, creme fraiche, or vanilla ice cream.