Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Marion Davies’ Peach Shortcake Tampa

Ready for another taste test of a vintage celebrity recipe? Here we go! This time around, we’re trying a breakfast/brunch dish from Marion Davies. As you may recall, we tried her recipe for cheese patties a while back. (You can catch up on all my past taste tests here.) This recipe is from a 1933 souvenir booklet.

Since we already covered Davies and her career in the cheese patty taste test, let’s get right on to the cooking!

You may notice that this recipe for shortcake contains no shortcake. It’s actually an eggless French toast. I used a good, firm sandwich bread. (Oroweat, to be precise. The same bread is sold as Arnold and Brownberry in other parts of the country.) Use whatever bread you like but I recommend using one with some heft as you don’t want your little bread rounds disintegrating in the milk. Challa would be great, if you have some.

Using a 2.5-3″ biscuit cutter should work.

First confession: I love canned peaches. With cottage cheese. There! I said it! This is terribly mid-century of me but I don’t care. It’s a great snack and I will fight anyone who says otherwise.

Second confession: I didn’t feel like using my oven so I just nuked the peaches for a minute in the microwave.

Next, the old dip and fry that is so familiar to French toast eaters.

If you make this, be generous with the butter and get it as hot as you dare because your bread rounds WILL stick otherwise. (I learned this the hard way.) If I make this again, I think I will just use my usual French toast method as the egg prevents things from getting too stuck on the pan.

As for trimmings, I used fresh whipped cream and walnuts. Just about any nut would be nice but I think sliced almonds would be particularly tasty. For dates, I implore you to seek out whole fruits and slice them yourself. Those pre-sliced dates you get at the supermarket are terrible and don’t let you experience the creamy texture of a proper date. I had fresh Deglet Noor dates on hand so I sliced them up.

And here it is! Is it an egg? Is it a peach? We won’t know until we try it!

Score: 3 out of 5. This recipe tasted fine but I really didn’t see the point. I could have just as easily had French toast with a peach compote. Or toast with canned peaches on the side. The presentation is basically a gimmick and while it’s just as adorable as can be, it isn’t the easiest thing to eat. Canned peaches are slippery devils!

This dish is rather sweet (I recommend not sweetening your whipped cream or using whipped butter), especially when you add the dates to the mix. I think something a bit tangier, like slices of orange or tangerine, would have made this a zippier dish.

On the plus side, this is a cute gimmick for kids. (Kids LOVE food fakeouts if they don’t involve baking pureed kale into brownies or some such nonsense. Rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t sneak it into your boss’s food, don’t sneak it into your kid’s snacks.) It looks like an egg… but it’s a peach! I think little me would have enjoyed that.

Also, this recipe can easily be made dairy-free/vegan by using your favorite non-dairy milk and butter. I can see almond milk being lovely here but coconut milk would also be nice and you can whip up the coconut cream to top the dish.

Oh, and just what makes this recipe so very Tampa? Are peaches and dates a favorite local combo?

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8 Replies to “Cooking with the (Silent) Stars: Marion Davies’ Peach Shortcake Tampa”

  1. You could always double-fake out the kids out by tucking a sunny side up egg yolk under that peach. Eww. As you can guess, I have no kids as they’d probably try sneaking into my room at night with an extra pillow for daddy’s face for feeding them peaches and eggs like that.

    1. Well, the hidden yolk still isn’t as bad as that bizarre trend about ten years ago involving hiding veggie purees in everything from brownies to mac and cheese. I really would have been angry if my parents had tried that. (They didn’t. They just got us interested in healthy eating by helping us grow radishes, carrots, tomatoes and sunflowers.)

  2. Now if you grilled that peach half, or as you suggested, use something citrusy like rindless tangerine or pineapple (why not grill that, too), this dish would perk right up, imo. Grilled peach half with unsweetened soft-whipped cream on the side, a shake or two of cardamom on top…yes, indeedy…

    Absolutely love dates and nuts together- a great choice! šŸ™‚

    1. Great ideas! Yes, it just needs that bit of oomph and given that it’s named after a place in Florida, it seems that something a little more tropical is called for. Yes to the cardamom!

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