Earlier this summer, I witnessed the unholy mutilation of buckets of beautiful Georgia peaches. Succulent orbs were mutilated and mashed in order to produce nauseatingly acidic peach gazpacho and impossibly acrid and soggy mustard peach crumble . . . yes, mustard crumble.

Since that sad day in July, I have been loath to make anything that could conceivably distort the natural goodness of fresh produce. However, when our sweet neighbor brought over a bushel of peaches from her tree, I began to reconsider my self-inflicted moratorium on cooking/baking with peaches. I knew that--if left uncooked--the peaches would sit in our kitchen, inevitably maturing to the point where no one would deign to sink their teeth into the sweet, decaying flesh. These peaches would die a meaningless death! They would rot because I was too much of a coward to concoct an appropriate pyre.

The expectation of this pathetic demise was more than I could bear. So, after much consternation, I decided on a recipe. A recipe that would not only honor the peaches that neighbor brought us, but pay homage to the souls of those lost in the produce debacle of July—and all fruit that has ever died in vain!

For all those pining to properly commemorate the last peaches of summer, may I present:

Ginger Peach Crostata
Prep: 30 min Bake: 35 min Oven: 375°F

For the Crust:

1¼ cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup shortening or butter
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

In a medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients. With your mixer on low, cut in butter or shortening. Once combined, add water--one tablespoon at a time--until dough becomes easily malleable. Line cookie sheet with either parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle sheet with flour. Roll out dough on cookie sheet until a large circle is formed (use a knife to clean up edges).

For the Filling:

¼ cup sugar
4 teaspoons flour
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
3 cups sliced peaches
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped almonds
1 tablespoon sliced crystallized ginger
Milk (for brushing edges of crust)
Whipped Cream (for serving)

In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, nutmeg, ground ginger, cinnamon and crystallized ginger. Add peaches and lemon juice; toss until coated. Mound peach mixture in the center of the pastry dough, leaving about 2 inches on every side for folding. Using your fingers, fold the pastry dough up and over the peaches, pleating dough as necessary to lie flat against the peaches. Sprinkle center with almonds and sliced crystallized ginger. Brush edges of pastry with milk. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes (or until edges are golden brown) at 375°F. Serve warm (or cold) with a dollop of whipped cream.