A very long time ago, my little sis gave me a Williams-Sonoma New Healthy Kitchen cookbook called Starters. At the time, I lived in an apartment and wasn't doing much entertaining. And I didn't normally whip up "starters" for myself. But as it turned out, the book has an awesome guide to seasonal fruits and veggies (grouped by color for us visual learners) that I was able to start using right away.
Check out the pinks and reds section - so pretty! Makes me want to run out and buy some radishes.
Obviously most fruits are available in more than one season, but Starters provides suggestions as to which fruits might be best in any given season. As you can see, peaches are best in summer. And I totally agree. If I'm going to eat a peach as a handheld fruit, I like it to be really sweet and juicy, which is what you find in the summer. But wait! Peaches have a life beyond the summer!
According to the food gospel of Katie, peaches are good for use as long as they feel ripe. I have no interest in hard peaches; I don't like them one bit. But a soft peach, even if it is super-tart, can make a great addition to winter breads, muffins and tarts.
The tartness of the peaches is so perfect with the sweetness of the muffin. It's much harder to plan for tart peaches in summer, so make these now! The recipe contains cornmeal and is naturally a bit crumbly, but the crumbly muffin meshes perfectly with the big chunks of moist peaches. I reduced the sugar from 3/4 cup suggested in the inspiration recipe to 1/2 cup, but feel free to stick with 3/4 cup if you want a sweeter muffin. Whatever you do, don't skip the peach slices on top. If you're making these muffins for guests, it gives them a classy touch, but more importantly, it adds more fresh, tangy fruit to each muffin. Mmm, mmmm, mmmm.
Tangy Peach & Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 15 muffins
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or unbleached all-purpose)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup light brown sugar (or 3/4 cups, depending on taste)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 peach, diced into chunks, plus 1 peach for slicing
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tin(s) by greasing the cups or using muffin cups. Cut your two peaches - one should be cut into chunks, the other halved and then cut into thin slices (for the slices, be sure to cut out the part of the flesh that was closest to the pit; it is usually very dry).
Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together and then blend by hand into dry ingredients. Fold in peach chunks. Fill greased or lined muffin tin 2/3 full with batter. Place 2 to 3 peach slices on top of each muffin as shown in pictures above.
Bake muffins at 350 for 18-20 minutes.
Let muffins cool on a baking rack. Warning: the smell of these muffins baking will make you want to eat the entire pan straight out of the oven. Please let them cool at least a bit so you don't burn the lining of your mouth off. This tip is with love, from me to you.