"Let your guests wait—they will be rewarded"

Another highlight from The Boston Symphony Cookbook: how Andrzej Panufnik liked to cook peaches.

Peaches Panufnik

6 large, perfectly ripe peaches (“must be fresh”), peeled
1½ cups heavy cream or
crème fraîche (or a combination)
½ to ¾ cup soft brown sugar

Slice the peaches into a buttered shallow 10-inch pie plate or baking dish, leaving ½ inch room at the top; the peaches should lie as flat as possible.

Whip the cream until very thick, and smooth it over the peaches.
Place in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours, until the cream is very firm but the peaches are not frozen solid.

Preheat the broiler (or a salamander) about 15 minutes before serving. Let your guests wait—they will be rewarded. Just before serving, sift some of the brown sugar over the semifrozen cream in a layer no more than 18 inch thick, covering the cream completely. Broil quickly until the sugar caramelizes. Add another layer and repeat the process, but work fast. Allow a few moments for the melted sugar to harden, and test the topping with taps of a tablespoon. When the properly percussive sound is achieved, rush it to the table, and serve immediately.

I took Andrzej at his word and used the broiler, but next time, I’ll use the blowtorch—faster, more even, and far more dangerous/fun. The editors of the cookbook reassure the timid that, in spite of his adamant insistence on fresh peaches, canned peaches will do in a pinch. But with all those summer peaches just lying around, you’d be a fool to break out the can opener; just dunk them in boiling water for thirty seconds, then into a bowl of ice water, and the skins slip right off. While you’re at it, you can take a listen to Panufnik’s Piano Trio played by its namesake.

For a true Panufnik experience, stay up all night eating the peaches and drinking cup after cup of strong black coffee while listening to ancient Polish chant, then, in your heart-racing caffienated state, fail your army physical the next morning. (Yes, that is how Andrzej avoided military service.) One of the better desserts I’ve come across in a while. Even critic-at-large Moe was sitting without being told in anticipation of more bits of crunchy topping.


  1. DIRECTIONS Soak in any room-temperature liquid until the scales fall away. Quickly re-apply the scales, being careful to use transparent plastic tape ONLY. Allow to lie flat for at least 5 to 6 hours, then pat dry. Slice, re-heat, spray, cull, rinse, dice, broil. Spray again. Add foreign objects if a more crispy texture is desired. Drain slowly, then discard. Bon appetit!

  2. Actually listening to some of Andrzej’s music or his daughter Roxanna’s music would be great too, although it might not get you out of military service!My other favorite young Panufnik story is that he got into music school as a percussionist, not as a pianist or composer – then switched! (I also think that helped his symphonic music in the timpani part to say the Sinfonia Sacra or the later brilliant Concerto Festivo!)Roxanna Panufnik will be on Composing Thoughts, July 22nd: http://composingthoughts.blogspot.com/Now to go get some peaches…

Leave a Reply