The esteemed French chef Auguste Escoffier claimed to have invented the Peach Melba in the early 1890s at the Savoy Hotel in London, in honour of the Australian soprano Nellie Melba, who was a guest at the hotel while performing at Covent Garden. Conjuring up images of Abigail’s Party, it’s as cute and kitsch as it is refreshingly yummy.
The method we use to poach peaches in the oven is very simple, and if you want to cut down on prep you can just serve them with fresh raspberries, though the compote is both lovely and traditional. We make the shortbread using our special homemade vegan Coconut Butter, but it can be made with vegan margarine instead, which will result in a slightly softer biscuit.
SERVES 4–6 4–6 perfectly ripe peaches 150ml (5fl oz) water rind of 1 lemon, cut into thin strips, and the juice 80g (3oz) caster sugar pinch of vanilla seeds FOR THE LEMON SHORTBREAD 125g (4 1/2oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting 15g (1/2oz) cornflour 50g (1 3/4oz) caster sugar, plus extra for topping 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes grated zest of 1 lemon 100g (3 1/2oz) Coconut Butter (see below), chilled TO SERVE vegan vanilla ice cream 1 batch of Berry Compote, either version, made with raspberries (see page 18) 75ml (5 tablespoons) peach schnapps (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF), Gas Mark 6. Cut each peach in half along the seam, twist the 2 halves in opposite directions to separate and remove the stone. Place the peaches, cut side down, in an ovenproof dish, cover with the measured water and add the lemon rind and juice, sugar and vanilla seeds. Bake for 15–20 minutes (the exact timing will depend on how ripe the peaches are) until the skins are beginning to wrinkle.
2 Remove from the oven, then transfer the peaches to a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to cool. Once cooled, you should be able to remove the skins easily. Drain the peach halves from the bowl of syrup, reserving any juices that escape when cutting, then return to the bowl of syrup with any of the reserved juices.
3 To make the shortbread, preheat the oven to 240ºC (475ºF), Gas Mark 9.
4 Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl, add the lemon zest and mix together. Grate in the coconut butter using the large-holed side of a box grater. Pinch the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips to achieve a fine crumb. Then gently knead the mixture together to form a ball of dough.
MAKES ABOUT 500G (1LB 2OZ)
200ml (7fl oz) soya milk (or other plant-based milk)
1 tablespoon coconut vinegar (or 2 teaspoons cider vinegar)
250g (9oz) coconut oil, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 tablespoons light oil (such as rapeseed or sunflower)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
pinch of salt
1 Line a plastic food container with baking parchment and place in the refrigerator.
2 Measure out the milk into a glass measuring jug and stir in the vinegar so that it curdles. Set aside.
3 Put the melted cooled coconut oil and light oil in a food processor or blender and run at a medium speed for 2–3 minutes. Then add the xanthan gum and salt and process briefly to mix.
4 With the motor running, pour in the curdled milk in a slow, steady stream and blend for 1 minute.
5 Pour the mixture into the prepared container and chill in the refrigerator or in the freezer until completely solid before using.
6 Store in the refrigerator for 2–3 weeks, or in the freezer longer term.
NO-COOK BERRY COMPOTE
260g (9 1/4oz) berries (about 2 punnets)
50ml (2fl oz) agave syrup (or other syrup)
75ml (5 tablespoons) water
pinch of vanilla powder (optional)
COOKED BERRY COMPOTE
260g (9 1/4oz) berries (about 2 punnets)
100ml (3 1/2fl oz) water
pinch of vanilla powder
squeeze of lemon juice
60g (2 1/4oz) caster sugar
No-cook Berry Compote
1 Blend half the berries with the remaining ingredients in a blender.
2 Strain the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds.
3 Combine with the remaining berries.
Cooked Berry Compote
This cooked version will give you a stronger-coloured compote and one that will keep for longer – store in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3–4 days.
1 Put half the berries with the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring up to a simmer. Cook gently for 10–15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the berries have totally broken down and the liquid is glossy.
2 Take the pan off the heat and leave the compote to cool a little and then blend with a stick blender.
3 Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds, then mix with the remaining berries.
More deliciously vegan recipes in Mildred’s Vegan Cookbook by Dan Acevedo and Sarah Wasserman