I always enjoyed the sight of peaches piled in bowls and paintings. But I never liked to eat them.
I thought there was something wrong with me. Everyone else was in love with peaches.
It’s possible I never got over the watery fruit cocktail in the school cafeteria.
In my mind, those sad little cups cemented peaches as a mushy fruit, and I do not like mushy fruit.
So I grew not to love peaches, and in a nation of juicy peach lovers, I knew this was a great and terrible sin.
Then I became a baker.
And when the older bakers taught me to sprinkle in this and toss with that, I revealed my secret sin. They’ll bake into mush, I said.
They stared at me and laughed, sliding the fruit under buttery doughs and into the oven. Yes, but it will be the finest mush to ever sweeten your tongue.
And it was. The bakers had sweetened the deal by cloaking peaches in cobbler, and every working sunrise that summer, it smelled like heaven cooling on the racks. They proved to me that steaming, drippy magic resides in every peach.
It’s been love ever since.
Peach Cobbler with Blueberry Cream
7 large peaches – peeled, halved, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar – blended with 1 tablespoon cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
finely grated zest of one lemon
2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
4 tablespoons cold solid shortening
1 cup pecan halves, roughly crushed
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, blended with 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Lightly butter an 8-cup ovenproof baking dish that measures about 2 inches deep. Set aside, and preheat oven to 425 F.
In a large bowl, toss the sliced peaches with the sugar-cornstarch-spice blend and set aside for a few minutes. Toss the peach mixture with the lemon zest, then spoon peaches into the buttered baking dish, along with any juices from the bowl.
For the cobbler topping: Sift the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the chunks of butter and shortening. Using 2 butter knives or a pastry blender, “cut” the fat into the flour until it’s reduced to small bits. With your fingertips, further reduce the fat to small flakes by dipping down into the mixture and crumbling it. Toss in 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar and the pecan halves. Pour the cream-vanilla blend over the flour mixture and in a few quick strokes, use a fork to combine into a rough dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times combine. Pat out dough approximately 3/4 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2 – to 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut biscuits from the dough, and place the biscuits on top of the fruit, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons granulated sugar on top of the biscuits.
Bake the cobbler on a rack in the lower third of the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking for 20 minutes longer, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly.
Serve cobbler warm or at room temperature, with ice cream or Blueberry Cream, below.
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 cup blueberries, chopped and smashed to release juices
In a small bowl, stir powdered sugar into sour cream to combine. Fold in smashed blueberries until fully blended. Refrigerate until served. Blueberry Cream will keep, covered and refrigerated, for several days.
cobbler adapted from Fruit Desserts