Saturday, July 16, 2011

Peach Redux

This is a repost from last summer. Peach cobbler is a summer staple in our house and this recipe is easy and really delicious.
As much as I love to garden, I truly love to bake and every summer I make peach cobbler. I don't grow the peaches and avoid buying them at the grocery store if I can. Our local grocery stores specialize in selling peaches that are hard, green, and smell more like a tennis ball than a peach. A few years ago in my quest for a peach that tasted and smelled like....a peach, I discovered Hollins Farms in Virginia. For a few bucks I could wander the orchards and stuff my bags full of white and yellow peaches, pick berries, tomatoes, etc. I was hooked and on Sunday headed back to the orchard.


Instead of writing about my garden I thought I would share my peach cobbler recipe. It's very easy and features a sweet biscuit topping. If you don't have access to great peaches, use nectarines. They're just bald peaches!
PEACH COBBLER

Peach Filling:
12 very large peaches or 24 small to medium peaches (You can mix white and yellow peaches.)
3/4 - 1 cup sugar (See Note Below)
4 tbs butter
3 tbs cornstarch
cinnamon and ginger to taste

NOTE:

Here's the deal with adding sugar to a fruit desert - fruit releases its own natural sugars as they cook. The more sugar you add, the more liquid they release. While this sounds ideal in theory, if you add too much sugar you'll end up with a very sweet, liquidy syrup that overpowers the flavor of the peaches and doesn't thicken correctly unless you add extra cornstarch. However, if you add too much cornstarch, you'll end up with a cobbler that tastes/looks like it's full of jam instead of peaches. If you are adding berries to the cobbler, add an extra 1/4 cup sugar to offset their natural tartness. This isn't a precise formula, however. You can vary the sugar from 3/4 cup to 1 cup depending on how sweet you like your desserts.

Peel the peaches and cut them into slices. I hold the peaches in one hand, peel them with a knife, and then just slice them up while holding them before plopping them into a large pot. It's messy but efficient. I give the peach peels to my worms.

In a small bowl combine the sugar, cornstarch, and spices. Add it to the pot and mix gently. Fresh ginger is excellent! Just grate it right over the pot of peaches.


This pot is full of white and yellow peaches.

Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the peaches. Cook the peaches on medium until the peach syrup begins to gently boil and changes from a cloudy brown to a clear brown. Don't cook the peaches on high heat or you'll burn them to the bottom of the pan. Trust me on this one!!! As soon as the mixture bubbles, thickens, and looks clearer, the peaches are done!

Turn off the heat and pour them into a 13 x 9 pan or two smaller pans. If you are adding any berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, or raspberries, add them now. Mix them in gently so you don't smash them. By cooking the peaches first, you don't have to worry about the topping cooking before the filling. This method works well for apple filling, too. Avoid using a pan that's too large. You'll end up with a dry cobbler because the filling will have spread out so much that when you cut into it, there's little to no syrup. However, if you use a pan that's too small, the syrup will bubble out of the pan, onto the oven heating element, and potentially set your oven on fire. Yep, trust me on this one!



Cobbler Topping:

This recipe makes A LOT of topping! If you are making one cobbler, you might want to just make a half portion of topping. This recipe isn't written for a stand mixer or food processor, although I'm sure you could use one.

1 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup half and half or milk
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups flour (I use White Lily - See Note Below)
1 tsp salt
1 tbs baking powder (The fresher, the better!)

NOTE:

Not all flour is the same. Well, okay, maybe you already knew that. White Lily is a soft southern flour. What does that mean? It means it's made from a type of wheat that is naturally low in protein. Low protein flours create less gluten in the finished product, which gives you a softer, lighter baked good. A high protein flour will create a chewier baked good. If you don't have White Lily, try King Arthur All Purpose flour. Or just use whatever's in your cupboard!!


In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Add the butter to the bowl and with a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour until it's in pea sized chunks. When the butter cloggs up the pastry blender, just use a knife to clear it off and continue cutting it into the flour. This can be done in a food processor, but since I don't have a processor big enough to make a dough in, I always use a pastry blender.


Pastry blenders are very old school and can be found very cheaply at Walmart, Target, etc. They just continually slice up the butter until it's really tiny and is incorporated into the flour. The weird looking thing with the blue handle is a pastry blender.


Here's what the butter looked like after I sliced it into submission with the pastry blender.

Now add about a third of the milk/half and half. Pour some of the liquid around the edges of the bowl and some into the middle. Using a fork, gently pull the liquid and flour towards the center. Do this all around the perimeter of the bowl until you have a thick blob of biscuit dough in the middle. There will still be flour around the edges and probably under the biscuit blob, so go ahead and continue pouring the liquid and pulling it toward the middle. Resist the urge to take your fork and mix it in circles!!! You'll overwork the dough and end up with tough topping. Ugh! Once you have a incorporated all the liquid into the flour, let it rest for a few minutes.

Using your fingers drop little blobs of topping on to the pan of cooked peaches. Add as much or as little as you like.


When the pan is covered, sprinkle it with sugar and bake at 425. How long you bake it depends on how big the pan is, but check it after about 20 minutes. Cobbler is amazing served warm with vanilla ice cream but is also awesome for breakfast!


Enjoy and let me know if you liked the recipe!!

14 comments:

  1. How lucky you are to have such a place where you can pick fruit and berries! I am still looking for a place to self-pick blueberries, etc. We used to pick apples in orchards in Missouri, but can't find such place here in WA.

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  2. Omg! My mouth is watering already. Thank you so much for the recipe. Something yummy to do with all those peaches I now have in the freezer.

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  3. Oh yum! Looks absolutely delicious! Funny about the peaches...I don't buy peaches at the grocery store either since they like to sell peaches from California and I live in the peach state! I only use White Lily or King Arthur flour too! It is amazing how much we have in common! Thanks for sharing your recipe and the tip on sugar use. I am looking forward to trying this.

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  4. Oh my goodness, that looks yummy! And I'm glad you re-posted because I wasn't a blogger last year. I will have to try that recipe! I love peaches, too, but especially fresh, crisp, cool ones. You're making me thirsty just thinking about them. ;-)

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  5. I agree--store-bought peaches should be avoided! There is nothing as wonderful as a fresh-from-the tree peach. The recipe looks delicious... I love your swallowtail caterpillar photo :)

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  6. I'm definitely going to have to try this. I love peaches, and our little peach tree did very well for us last year. I was so looking forward to more peaches this summer, but alas, the voles have succeeded in almost completely killing the tree. We'll have to replace it this winter. So this summer I'll have to watch out for peaches at the Farmer's market, then I can try your tasty-sounding cobbler!

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  7. It looks so yummy! I have a cobbler recipe that I normally use with fresh fruit, but this looks just as good. I look forward to trying it.

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  8. I love peaches but there's no such thing as a peach tree in this climate. How lucky you are to be able buy them fresh.

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  9. Hi dear,

    THE COBBLER! DIVINE! We'll have to have a cobbler cook off and we can eat all the remains!

    All joys,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

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  10. OMGosh, are you kidding me??!! It's 9:40pm and I have no peaches in the house. I know what I'll be dreaming of tonight!!

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  11. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden
    Gosh that looks delicious!

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  12. I'm so glad you posted this. I looked into Hollin Farms when I wanted to go strawberry picking but went somewhere else instead. I should try Hollins instead, especially for the variety of stuff you can pick yourself. And thank you for the recipe!

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  13. This looks wonderful! can't wait to try it! Thanks for sharing.

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