Late in the summers of my teenage years, my mom would proudly and excited arrive home with a box of fresh-off-the-tree peaches from the peach tree my pop-pop nurtured outside my grandparent’s house. I honestly don’t know how the tree survived the conditions it grew in: the sandiest of soils, 200 yards from the Great South Bay, bogged down with a near constant salty sea breeze, and an occasional tidal surge that lapped at the base of the trunk. And every year it was a race to pick the peaches before the deer, raccoons, and random number of incredibly dishonest people found the perfectly ripened peaches first. (In some years, Pop-Pop didn’t win that race.)
The tree no longer stands outside the house (my grandmother had it hastily cut down the year after my grandfather passed away) but my memories of his love and pure joy for those peaches will never fade. And neither will my memory of making my first cobbler with some of his peaches when I was 16. It was my first true from-scratch baking project (aside from chocolate chip cookies) and I was so nervous.
I shooed the fruit flies away from the nearly past-peak peaches, followed the recipe from my mom’s Women’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery books (which I now have my own antiqued set of) and stumbled through every single step; my biggest fear being that the cobbler would be too watery. Also, there was this other thing: I had never even eaten peach cobbler before so I made it completely blindly, not knowing what to expect at all. And in the end, it turned out pretty great, a summer dessert my 16-year-old self was beamingly proud of.
This peach cobbler recipe isn’t that first recipe that I made all those years ago – I actually had forgotten that I still had that recipe until I sat down to write this post! But this one is pretty darn spectacular, elevating gorgeous summer peaches to another level by stirring in a little sugar and topping them with a fluffy and beautifully browned biscuit topping. If you’ve chosen the right peaches, they won’t need a lot of sugar to shine through and you’ll find that the biscuit topping doesn’t need to be overly sweet either. Basically, the topping is there to complement the peaches, not take them over. It’s an insanely simple recipe to throw together (I didn’t even bother to peel the peaches) and one that I can see myself making again and again. And hopefully, if we’re able to get our own peach tree to grow and produce here in the coming years, there will be lots more peach cobbler to reminisce over.
- 10 ripe peaches, halved, pitted, and each half sliced into 8 slices (about 2 quarts)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2 tbsp dark-brown sugar
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp course or sparkling sugar
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Set a 2-quart baking dish aside.
- To make the peach filling: Place the peaches, cornstarch, both sugars, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss until well combined and set the bowl aside, stirring every so often while you make the biscuit topping.
- To make the biscuit topping: In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together until well-combined. Gently toss in the butter pieces and coat them with the flour mixture. Rub the butter in with your fingers (use your thumbs and first two fingers) until the mixture becomes a little crumbly and the butter forms small clumps (coarse meal with the flour) – you’ll need to use a little pressure to get the cold butter to break up so don’t be afraid to “get dirty”.
- Whisk the egg and cream together in a liquid-measuring cup. Slowly add this mixture to dry ingredients, mixing with a fork until the dough just comes together - it will be wet and sticky.
- Pour the peach filling into the baking dish. Using a large ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup drop clumps of biscuit dough (about 1/2 cup each) over the top of the peaches, gently flattening them out slightly with your fingertips. Sprinkle the biscuit dough with the coarse sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack and let cool slightly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
source: adapted from Martha Stewart