When it comes to peaches, I am a cobbler girl all the way.
Sure, I like peach pie, and I would never turn down a crumble or crisp. I also love peaches sliced over my morning yogurt, eaten straight out of hand, baked into bar cookies with a shortbread crust or turned into preserves and spread on hot biscuits.
But, in my book, nothing beats peach cobbler.
The thing about cobbler is that there’s no one definition for it. We Southerners can get pretty passionate about cobbler, but even in the same general region (or, for that matter, even in the same family) two people can have vastly different ideas of just what constitutes this homey dessert.
My dad is a big fan of cobbler made with pie crust, similar to a deep-dish pie, with the possible addition of little scraps of dough tucked into the filling, so that they will bake up like almost dumplings.
This summer my allegiance shifted.
I started coming across cobbler recipes — referred to as “shiny top” or “boiling water” cobbler — that called for smothering the fruit in a thin layer of cake batter, sprinkling the batter with cornstarch and then dousing the whole thing with boiling water. I’d had cake batter cobblers before, but the cornstarch and water thing was new to me and intriguing enough to try, even though I had long thought I had this cobbler thing cracked.
The result was sublime.
The batter bakes up into a tender topping that sits on top of the juicy fruit base rather than subsuming it and the boiling water trick at the end somehow creates a golden and slightly crisp crust.
It is good enough for company, easy enough that my 2-year-old can help put it together and the sort of thing I would honestly be happy to eat every day.
Adapted from the Christian Science Monitor.
Choose a baking dish with a capacity of about 8 cups. An 8"x8"x2" square pan or a 9"x2" round pan is just right.
- 6 cups roughly chopped peaches
- 1 T lemon juice
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 T cornstarch
- 1 cup boiling water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In an 8"x8" or similarly-sized baking dish, lightly toss the peaches with the lemon juice, nutmeg and cornstarch. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and vanilla, mixing until well combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Spoon the batter evenly over the fruit and gently smooth it out a bit. It's ok if some peaches peek out here and there.
Mix together the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, tablespoon cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon salt, making sure the cornstarch is well distributed. Sprinkle this mixture over the batter and then pour the boiling water evenly over the entire dish, and put it straight into the oven. (You may want to put some foil or a sheet pan under the baking dish, in case it bubbles over.)
Bake for 45-55 minutes, until golden, bubbling and a toothpick comes out clean.