I love being gluten-free. I’m healthier than ever, & the entire community is so wonderful & supportive. But here’s my confession: every once in a while, I realize that a special, seasonal food is now off-limits. I’m not talking possible 80/20 indulgences like picked-that-day locally-grown from the farm-down-the-road corn on the cob smothered in butter (totally enjoyed that earlier in the month; which is the only time you can enjoy it in Ohio). I’m talking the great big NO – things that require all-purpose wheat flour.
Growing up, late summer in Ohio meant my mom would make peach kuchen, one of those wonderfully tasty things you can only make when the peaches are perfectly in season. Most summers, we’d only get one batch of it. Even after I left home, I made sure to get home during this very small window to make sure I could get at least a bit of it. What can I say? Food has always been very important in my family.
One phone call back home in late July, my dad wondered when we’d be by to visit. He mentioned in passing, “if you stop by this weekend, you might even get some kuchen.”
That was when my heart sank. I can ignore some things, indulging in a 5 Guys fries or eating sushi, but I simply cannot feed my body anything related to wheat. Even if I left this lifestyle behind, I’ll always be have to be gluten-free. Most of the time, that’s fine. But August passing without the delicious sweet & tangy taste of kuchen – I just don’t think I can handle that.
And so I set about to make a peach kuchen I can eat. Last time I was home, I asked my mom to take me through the process of making kuchen – something I’ve helped her do as a child, but I’ve never really learned the ins & outs of the dish. &, to be honest, I think she was curious to learn about the infamous “oopsie” crust. Initially, I didn’t think it worked, but after the dish sat overnight, allowing the peaches, cinnamon, & sour cream to do their magic, yeah. We hit the flavor jackpot.
Three very important things about this recipe:
01) You MUST use free-stone peaches. Redhaven peaches are the most popular free-stone variety, but BE SURE TO ASK. If the person you ask doesn’t know, don’t buy them. Using any other sort of peach with result in a mushy disaster when you try to slice them, which is never fun.
02) I hesitate to call this recipe primal or paleo because the sugar content is much higher than what is optimal, & in addition to the six ounces of cream cheese used to make the crust, nearly an entire pint of sour cream smothers that crust. It’s definitely gluten-free, but I’m not sure the amount of sugar & dairy used quite qualifies this as primal. This a definite once-a-year indugence!
03) This is not a quick recipe. It’s not complicated, but don’t expect to be done in twenty minutes. Luckily, using the oopsie crust makes it much faster than the traditional yeast bread recipe, but still. Make this ahead of time – this really needs to chill overnight to reach perfection.
Now – onto the recipe! As a word of warning, we’ll be using the entire kitchen to make this. Give your sink a good cleaning & make sure you have plenty of room on your counters!
As mentioned, we’ll begin with a basic “oopsie crust” recipe, & build from there.
6 ounces unsoftened cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (the regular stuff works fine, too!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pint sour cream (none of that low-fat stuff!)
brown sugar & cinnamon for dusting
8 medium to large sized in-season local free-stone peaches
01) Preheat oven to 300° & begin the “oopsie” crust! If you’re unfamiliar with the process, begin by separating the eggs, then add cream of tartar to the whites. Beat the whites until they form stiff peaks.
02) Mix the rest of the crust ingredients together: yolks, cream cheese, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt.
03) Now, gently fold the yolk mixture into your beautifully fluffy egg whites, being careful not to beat down the whites. We want the mixture to stay fluffy!
04) Spread the mixture onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake @ 300° for about 20 minutes. When you throw it in, set a big pot of water to boil.
Now we’ll move on to preparing the peaches.
05) Give your peaches a good rinse. Once the water is boiling, add half of your peaches & allow to boil for four minutes (this is blanching!). Fill your sink (or a very large pot/bowl) with ice cold water, & once that four minutes is up, throw the peaches in the cold water.
You don’t want to work with hot peaches. Trust me.
Repeat with your remaining peaches.
06) After allowing to cool completely (5-10 minutes), begin peeling & slicing! First, peel the skin off slowly – thanks to the blanching process, this is quite easy to do. Then, slice the peach all the way ’round the pit – you’ll want to feel the knife hit that little stone. When you make the next slice, sorta push the knife against the stone to make a perfect slice. My mom demonstrates below…
07) Tired yet? We’re almost through, I promise! Once all the peaches are peeled & sliced, slather the crust with sour cream.
08) Now, add your sliced peaches…
09) Finally, sprinkle on some brown sugar & cinnamon. You certainly don’t need as much as you see here, but this is an indulgence, after all.
10) Bake at 350° until the peaches are just cooked. We did it in 15 minute intervals for about 40 minutes. It’ll be VERY juicy, so let it sit out for a bit until the juices sink into the crust.
Once all those juices have sunk in, you can serve it, but it’s best to stick it in the fridge & let it chill overnight. Then eat it for breakfast, lunch, dessert – whenever you want it. It’ll be gone far too quick!
Until next summer, when the peaches are ripe, I’ll just stare at these pictures. If you make it (& hurry up if you do! The peaches are almost all gone!), do let me know how it turns out!