Baked peaches (or plums, or apricots) are my faithful standby, my I-can’t-be-bothered-to-measure-or-time-anything pudding. With just a couple of ingredients and a tub of something creamy you have a sweet, syrupy, fruity hit which gives the false impression that you’ve made any effort at all. They make a delicious breakie the next day covered in yoghurt and sprinkled with oats, so make more than you need.
1-2 peaches per person
Brown sugar (but not dark brown sugar)
Mascarpone, cream, or yoghurt
Caramel (see below) or honey
Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees. Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Lay them cut side up in a baking dish, and put a small nugget of butter on each peach half, around the size of a 20p piece. Sprinkle with a little sugar – the riper and sweeter the peach, the less you need – no more than a couple of teaspoons. Bake uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes, before flipping each peach and cooking for a further 15. Done! Serve warm from the oven, drizzled with a little honey or caramel and a big dollop of something really bad for you.
A few notes on caramel sauce
You can probably find better instruction out there, but this is how I do it. I think my biggest tip is hold your nerve. Actually my biggest tip is do not lick liquid sugar straight from the spoon, but other than that show no fear ‘cos the caramel will smell it.
Into a small, heavy-based saucepan, put a tbsp of butter and about 8 tbsp caster sugar – you want way more sugar than butter. Place over a very gentle heat and leave until it starts to caramelise – do not stir at this point. Once the sugar starts to melt, turn up the heat and shake the pan to bring it together; you’re looking for a relatively cohesive liquid. Here’s the bit where you think it’s all gone wrong; add 100ml of double cream, and stir like crazy. It will fizz up, and there will be lumps but don’t worry; keep at it. Turn the temperature back down, and let it bubble away to a smooth consistency, before adding another 200ml cream and doing the same thing again if necessary – shouldn’t take so long this time. You should have caramel by now….add some salt, and some brandy too if you’re feeling cheeky.