Everyone I ask for a quick, no-cook, old-fashioned peach ice-cream recipe gives me the same answer: It's easy, but to get that thick, satiny, fresh texture, you have to cook the custard base first.
So, I conceded and found it really isn't so hard, just a matter of stirring constantly during the thickening stage, which also cooks the egg yolks. The recipes I checked were consistent: Cook the egg, milk (or cream) and sugar mixture on medium-low heat until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Cool it and fold in the pureed peaches. It really is amazing what fresh fruit, local eggs and cream do for the vanilla custard base, bringing out the taste of an orchard in high summer. Recipes are also generally consistent in their ratio of egg yolks to cream or whole milk: one large farm-fresh, free-range yolk per cup of the dairy liquid to a quarter-cup of peach puree. The measures in the recipe that follows are what they are because that's how big a batch my ice cream maker's bowl can handle. Increase or decrease in keeping with the ratios.
This ice cream is excellent served with the cobblers and peach brandy featured in Locavore Cooking last summer. If you have some of the brandy left from last year, pour a tablespoon or two over the ice cream before serving. If you're a cobbler fanatic, dish a scoop alongside.
Peach Ice Cream
3 large egg yolks
4 medium peaches, peeled, pitted and pureed (about 3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar (more to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 cups cream, half-and-half or whole milk, or a combination
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Separate the egg yolks from whites and set aside. In a food processor or blender, puree the peaches, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the lemon juice, and set aside in fridge. Rinse the work bowl of processor or blender to use again.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream, half-and-half or milk to the barely bubbling point and then remove from heat.
Process or blend the egg yolks and remaining sugar until they break and blend. With the machine running, add 1 cup of the hot milk through the feed tube until thoroughly incorporated, less than a minute. Pour the yolk-cream blend into the saucepan with remaining milk and continue to heat mixture on medium-low, stirring constantly. When custard reaches the gently bubbling stage, time it to cook, still stirring, until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, mix in vanilla and allow to cool. Chill at least two hours before stirring into peach puree. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Serves 6 generously; top with fresh fruit for a decorative and extra-peachy touch.