Thursday, August 15, 2013

Peach Cobbler

Summer weather in New England is hard to describe.  The weather patterns can be extremely inconsistent: some years the weather is unbearably hot and humid, some years it rains practically all the time, and occasionally some years there is tons of lovely perfect summer weather.  Oh wait, did I say years? What I meant to say is hours. We seriously can go from a breezy 70 degrees, to pouring, to extreme humidity all in one afternoon.  Fortunately, this summer has proven to be quite comfortable overall. Other than a few patches of, I don't think it is possible to breathe because the air is so thick and hot, this summer has had many clear, warm days and crisp, cool nights.  The wonderful weather has led to an abundance of fresh local produce.  We are lucky to live in an area with a large number of local orchards, farm stands, and weekly farmer's markets.  I love going to the farmer's markets and seeing the new produce as it comes into season.  Plus there is usually a variety of excellent baked goods, breads, local meat, honey and syrups too. A few weeks ago, K and I picked up the most delicious sweet cherries and mixed raspberries that we have ever eaten!  When peach season rolled around, I knew that I wanted to try out some new peach recipes.  I love peach flavor but am not a fan of eating a whole peach. The fuzzy skin is not for me!  Last summer I made a pretty good peach crisp, but I wasn't sold, and so this year I decided to try cobbler instead.  I also made peach melba; poached peach over vanilla ice cream with raspberry sauce. So good! I will share that recipe down the road, but for now, let me show you how to make this great cobbler.

I find that the easiest way to peel peaches is to use a vegetable peeler. You want to make sure that the peaches are still a little bit firm and not too ripe or using the peeler will just squish the fruit. Also, hopefully you are able to buy free stone peaches so that when you run your knife around the peach, the fruit will easily separate from the pit.  You can probably use frozen peaches in place of the fresh, but you might need to adjust the cooking time slightly.  Once you have the fruit sliced, melt the 1/4 cup of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large saucepan until thick and bubbly (should take less than 5 minutes).  Stir in the peaches and cook for about 5 minutes. The peaches will let off some liquid and combing with the sugar to become nice and syrupy.   

Melt the 1/2 cup butter and pour into the 9x13 baking dish.  This should result in a fairly thin even layer of butter on the bottom of the dish.  Mix together all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl to form the cobbler batter. The batter will resemble pancake batter. 

Pour the batter directly on top of the melted butter and then evenly distribute the peach mixture on top of the batter.  Do not stir at all!! Some kind of awesome food science thing happens while the cobbler is in the oven. The batter combines itself with the butter and bubbles up and bakes over the peaches. 

You will know the cobbler is done when the top is golden brown. You can also insert a toothpick and it should come out clean when fully baked.  This cobbler is great served warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cobbler keeps very well in the fridge for a few days and can be reheated. I made a full size recipe of this cobbler mid week for my dad to take to a party over the weekend, but of course, I also had to make up a few single serving size cobblers for K and I to taste test.  You could make the whole recipe in individual servings. You would just need a bunch of ramekins and reduce the cooking time to 25-30 minutes. 

 Here is a picture of the full size cobbler that I sent off with my dad. You can see how the batter rises right up over the peaches and forms a lovely golden brown crispy edged crust.  There are a few peaches poking through and some sugary syrup spots that are super delicious! This is a very cake like cobbler versus the more crumbly topped cross between a crisp and cobbler version. The cake is light and fluffy except right around the edges gets that crispy butter texture, which is my favorite part.  The peaches are so sweet and have a bit of caramel flavor from the brown sugar syrup.  This is a really wonderful dessert and a great way to enjoy the beautiful summertime fruit!  As always with a crisp or cobbler, this is excellent topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. 

Peach Cobbler
Inspired by  Laura in the Kitchen

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups sliced fresh peaches
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Peel and slice 4 cups of peaches (around 6-7 peaches).  Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan and heat until sugar has dissolved into the butter and is bubbling slightly.  Add the peaches and cook for about 5 minutes.  Melt the 1/2 cup butter and pour into the bottom of a 9x13 pan.  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, egg, milk, and vanilla until well combined.  Pour the batter over the butter, but do not stir!  Pour all of the peaches and syrup over the batter as evenly as possible.  Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving, or can be cooled completely and served at room temperature.  If making ahead of time, can be reheated at 350°F for about 10 minutes.


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