I’ve eaten more peaches this summer than probably the last five or six summers combined. I usually give up on peaches in England, because they’re imported rock hard and never ripen properly, tasting sad and woolly and a tragic shadow of what you know they could be. But they’re so cheap and abundant right now that I can’t resist buying a punnet or two in the supermarket, safe in the knowledge that, if all else fails, I can at least rescue them with the application of some sugar and searing oven heat.
I’ve been griddling slices and putting them in bulgur wheat salads with barbecued chicken and cucumber yoghurt, roasting them with a scone-like topping to make a cobbler for breakfast, and skewering them on cocktail sticks with parma ham and basil leaves before drizzling with balsamic syrup to make delicious canapés. This is another excellent use for disappointing punnets of peaches, arising one weekend morning out of a necessity to use up both the peaches and the blackcurrants in my fridge. The rosemary was another accidental inclusion; I spied a sprig from the night before left on the worktop, and figured, why not?
Peaches, when baked into desserts, need something tart to offset their honeyed sweetness. Redcurrants work well, as do raspberries. I think, though, that blackcurrants might have the edge, because they have that wonderful cough-sweet astringent sharpness. Plus, they puddle seductively into deep pools of inky purple juice around the peach slices, inviting you to dive in with your spoon. Here, tender peach pieces and succulent burst blackcurrants mingle with a spiced crust of oats that is gorgeously gooey and juicy underneath and crisp on the top. The rosemary is an inspired addition, considering it was an accident – its herbal note cuts through that sticky-sweet peach juice beautifully.
I’ve made lots of versions of this recipe over the years, and this is probably in the top two, along with a gorgeous pear, gooseberry and elderflower version. I love the drama of the dark purple juice, and the gooey peach chunks with their sweet fragrance. I love the nip of rosemary and the crunch of the oats. More than anything, I love turning summer’s abundance into a beautiful breakfast treat.
Peach, blackcurrant and rosemary breakfast crumble (serves 2, if you're a brunch fiend like me, or maybe 3-4 normal people):
- 4 large peaches, stoned and thinly sliced
- 200g blackcurrants, stalks removed
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- Juice of half a lemon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary needles
- 2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
- 150g jumbo oats
- 40g rye flour
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp water
- 4 tbsp flaked almonds (optional)
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Put the peaches and blackcurrants in a baking dish and toss with the cornflour, lemon juice, ginger, rosemary and muscovado sugar. In a bowl, mix together the oats, flour, mixed spice and salt. In a small jug, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, extract and water, then mix this into the oat mixture until evenly combined. Scatter this over the fruit, toss gently once or twice so that most of it is still on top, then scatter with almonds if using. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the juices are thick and bubbling, and the topping is golden and crunchy. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.