Monday, August 30, 2010

OLD FASHIONED PEACH COBBLER

THE SWEET TASTE OF SUMMER


I posted a fruit cobbler not too long ago and made a promise to my readers that I would make – and post – my own favorite, reliable, best ever Peach Cobbler recipe before the end of peach season. Well, I never break a promise. Mostly. (And if I ever did admit to lying, and what girl would? then rest assured that a larger-than-life evil lie to harm anyone would never pass these lips, only the rare little white lie to protect the innocent…me). But when it comes to food I spit on the palm of my hand and cross my heart and do as I say. I am a nice person when it comes to food.

We arrived home from brilliantly sunny Florida a mere two weeks ago or so to the beginning of autumn here in France. Leaving the blistering heat behind, we were greeted by the hug of fog and the spatter of rain on our faces as we stepped off of the plane. Several days of gray skies and incessant rain pulled us back to the reality of home and we understood that summer was over and it was time to get back to work. Patience, patience and once we were settled in, the sunshine, that delicate fall sunshine lit up the fluffy white clouds floating lazily through the blue skies. Crunchy golden leaves litter the sidewalks and the air smells crisp and clear. Now summer plays tag with the fall, sunshine and rain dash in and out of the trees each trying to outdo the other as the days go from chilly and damp to warm and spectacular as each tries to claim this month of August as her own. September approaches and we try and grasp onto the last lazy days of summer even as we relish the cooling, glittery first days of autumn.


We drove out to the coast our first weekend back home so JP could take another dip in the ocean. He is still dreaming of Florida’s sweltering heat, feet sinking into scorching dunes, having to jump from foot to foot, keep moving to escape the burning sand, dashing down to the water’s edge towards the welcome lapping of the waves, the cool water swirling up around his ankles. He is imagining the Florida sun, squinting up into the piercing light as it burns into his eyes, stabs at his skin. Remembering, yes, but here in France late summer means the beginning of autumn, and it is already cooler as we step out of the car and shoulder our tote bag of towels and books. No straight line of white, sandy beaches going on and on as far as the eye can see. No, the French coast opens up here and there, offering tiny secluded coves of deep golden sand the color of graham crackers, the waves crashing up against jagged heaps of deep charcoal gray slate, tiny pools of water cradled in the craters in the rocks, shimmering in the hazy late morning light. A cool breeze kisses my skin as the sun warms my back and I settle down with my book as JP dons his swimsuit and gleefully wends his way down to the waves. I bury my nose in my book as JP heads off to take his swim. He comes back quickly, astonished at how chilly the water is! No Florida this! He brings me back treasures, an oyster shell, a plump, angry crab who skitters away the moment his body is placed back on the sand. We soon decide that it is time to head into Pornic and enjoy a seafood platter for lunch as we savor the last days of vacation and the fading summer.


The following weekend, the glimmering light and nip in the air pull us out of our beds and in another direction towards something much more seasonal. We don our walking shoes, hook the leash around Marty’s neck and head out for a long meander through the vineyards, now lush and green at this time of year, our favorite Saturday morning haven. Marty dashes in and out of the vines, breathing in all of the smells of the great outdoors, alert to each and every bug, animal and plant sound and movement (although for some reason he completely misses the three stunning deer who we spy grazing on the leaves and grapes up atop the hill). Arms hugging our bodies to ward off the unexpected chill, we turn our faces up towards the sun and walk, deeper and deeper into the lovely landscape. We have always found this the perfect spot for talking, dreaming of our future, making crazy plans, testing each one as it rolls off of our tongue, laughing at the absurdities of life and the foibles of our fellow man. We clear our heads of the weeks’ worries, brush the stress of the daily grind off of our shoulders where the burden is the greatest, weighing us down, and we leave the vineyards, head back to the car just a tad more content, our step just a little lighter and ready to enjoy the rest of the weekend.

And the autumn chill in the air, the bright, crisp sunshine against azure skies has me dreaming of pumpkin. And pears. Mushrooms pepper my thoughts and sweet potatoes dance before my eyes. Yet as much as I adore all things autumn, I revel in the last of the summer fruit. The market stalls breath summer, peaches and nectarines are piled high, red and yellow, soft golden apricots and plums in yellows and greens, reds and purples, tumble from wooden crates across the faux grass decorating each stall. Cherries are long gone as are the sweetest of the strawberries and the occasional tiny cardboard box of raspberries shamelessly calls my name, luring me like a handful of rubies, but my heart truly belongs to the peaches. I love peaches and we are at the height of the season in France. Plump and ripe, juicy and sweet, sweeter than any peaches we’ve eaten in many a long year. When I was a kid, I preferred my peaches hard and crunchy like the best apple only sweeter, fruitier, the satisfying bite into the flesh a pleasure I could enjoy forever, eating one after another all day, all summer long. But now I find the greatest satisfaction in the ripest of the bunch, at the peak of sweetness. I buy them by the bagful, returning day after day for more. One luscious peach is the perfect ending to any meal, whether an elegant dish of lobster or scallops or a humble sandwich, a peach is the only dessert I need. JP places one, the ripest, on the center of his plate and, using our sharpest paring knife peels the skin off of the fruit and cubes the flesh, stabbing each tender chunk one at a time and slipping it onto his tongue. I, on the other hand, American that I am, carefully, gently wash my peach so as not to bruise the delicate fruit, and bite joyfully into the flesh, the juice running down my arm, dribbling over my chin, enjoying the entire childlike experience, savoring the flavor, the sweetness, the texture.


Let autumn come, stunningly bright, marvelously cold, her brilliant sun splashing across the white of the buildings and in through my windows, yet keep these tantalizing beauties for just a while longer, these lovely peaches of red and purple and gold, their velvety softness and sweet perfume luring me, beguiling me with the promise of eternal summer.


PEACH COBBLER
Old fashioned and just about perfect

4 generous cups (6 – 8 depending on the size) peeled, thickly sliced ripe peaches
½ cup* (100 g) + 3 Tbs (45 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (200 g) flour
1 Tbs baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup (75 g) sweet butter, chilled
1 egg lightly beaten
¼ cup (65 ml) milk


Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Butter a 2-quart (2-liter) glass or ceramic baking dish.

Arrange the peeled, thickly sliced peaches in the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with the ½ cup sugar, the lemon zest and juice, the vanilla and toss. Bake for 20 minutes until the peaches are tender, glazed and the juices are bubbling.

Before...

... after

While the peaches are baking, make the cobbler dough by sifting the flour, baking powder and salt together into a large mixing bowl and then tossing with 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Feel free to stir in a dash of ground cinnamon if you like. Cube the butter and toss in the flour then rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal or damp sand. Whisk the egg into the milk then pour onto the flour mixture. Stir with a fork until well combined and has become a thick batter.


Remove the cooked peaches from the oven and, working quickly, drop the dough by very large even spoonfuls onto the peaches. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of the sugar evenly over the dough and return the dish to the oven to bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the dough is puffed up, firm and golden brown.


Serve warm – not hot hot as fresh-from-the-oven fruit juices may burn! – with freshly whipped, slightly sweetened cream or a scoop of your favorite ice cream.


Now, I must explain why I love this Peach Cobbler so, why it is our favorite. The fruit it perfectly sweetened, perfectly cooked. And don’t be afraid to toss a handful of raspberries or blackberries in with the peaches. Yum! But the cake part of the cobbler is tender, dense and just moist enough that it isn’t dry in the mouth (like other cobblers may be), the perfect texture, barely sweet like a simple drop biscuit or muffin, the ideal foil for the sweet, sweet fruit and perfect to sop up the juices with. Even after one or two days in the refrigerator, the “cobbles” are still tender and delicious, becoming neither hard nor dry in the cold. A fabulously easy, stunningly delicious Peach Cobbler.


37 comments:

Barbara said...

So looking forward to our summer so I can try this. Yummy.

Julie M. said...

I really really love peach cobbler. Your version looks spectacular! We've had a bumper crop of peaches this year in the south, so I have no shortage to whip this little beauty up. Thanks for sharing and enjoy your last days of summer!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A marvelous cobbler! I love old-fashioned desserts.

Cheers,

Rosa

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Wow, you hit a home run with this delicious, comfort-food peach cobbler.

Nanette said...

Me too Barbara!

Hanging out for summer and this gorgeous cobbler!

elra said...

Most of the time, I find the old fashion recipe is the best.

SMITH BITES said...

This post reminds me once again, that those old-fashioned standards are just that for a reason. I haven't made a good cobbler yet this season but I have fresh peaches on my table this very minute. And a good peach cobbler always reminds me of summertime w/family.

Bonnie said...

Sometimes Old fashioned homey desserts are just what we need for the transition into fall. I love peach cobbler and the peaches on my kitchen counter may have found a home.

Mary said...

Jamie, your words are so mesmerising I almost forgot to read the recipe you shared with us today. My bad! Your cobbler is gorgeous. Have a great day, my friend. Blessings...Mary

Asha @ FSK said...

yummm!!!!! me making cobbler soon!!

cmorgenstern said...

This recipe looks like something I have eaten at a friend's house years ago and never got around asking her for the recipe - now you submitted it, thanks a lot. Will try it but unfortunately it is too cold here for growing peaches so I will try it with raspberries. I am sure it will work too.
Greetings from Germany
Christa

Jennifurla said...

I am so a cobbler girl, this looks quite yummy

Cristie said...

Peach cobbler is the very description of late summer for me. Your last paragraph of why this is your favorite recipe sold me-- I'm going to give this a try. I love my cobbler just the way your decribed it. Thanks for the post.

RamblingTart said...

I'm so glad you had such an amazing time, Jamie. :-) I'm longing for hot, sandy beaches myself. Maybe next year. :-) Beautiful cobbler! A perfect way to welcome Autumn. :-)

5 Star Foodie said...

I'm going to make it right now! Thanks!

Jayne said...

This helps ease the pain of summers end.

Fern said...

Peaches are awesome! Love this treat, my mom always made it around this time of year.

prospera11 said...

magic time of childhood when i uses to watch my mother baking peaches picked up in our garden curious of each step in the preparation of something similar to that peach cobbler whose delicious smell was filling our home and we could not wait to taste the first bite.
thank you for that taste of a loving home again margot desmarais

Ellen said...

I'm SO ready for fall. (I'm in Texas, so we still have a few months to go.) The good part is that we still have plenty of peaches, and this cobbler looks amazing!

Also - thank you so much for visiting our blog and for your sweet comment on the lemon tart. Hope it turns out well!

Marcellina said...

I have never made a cobbler as in Australia we do more fruit crumbles. This cobbler looks really good. I must try it. BTW, I just love your story!

The Duo Dishes said...

Oh, that crust. It looks so crunchy and sweet. We had a friend bring fresh peaches and cobbler topping to the beach where he baked it in a Dutch oven over fire. It looked just like yours. Fabulous!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

What a beautiful iconic dessert! I remember when I first heard about peach cobbler and I was fascinated by it and it was years and years until I got to try it! :D

Nuts about food said...

What a simple, yet perfect recipe...just my kind! And lovely pics. Thanks for visiting my site, enjoyed reading yours and will be sure to be back.

bellini valli said...

Peaches seem to be out in full force. This is such a comforting dish Jamie!

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

Mmm, peaches! Now this looks like the cobbler that I imagined when I made my apple cobbler earlier this summer - only as it turned out that was a different form of cobbler! This looks divine.. I might try adding some cardamom - not traditional I know, but oh so delicious!

UrMomCooks said...

Hello peaches! Please help us keep summer alive for a few more days! Peach cobbler one more time is definitely on the menu at our house! I am going to give ur special recipe a try!!!

Heavenly Housewife said...

That just looks so warming and comforting. I could totally get into that!
*kisses* HH

Muneeba said...

Gawd, I love summer peaches .. the sweet juices running down your chin as you bite into it. And I can't resist a good 'ol cobbler, any day of the year!

Fresh Local and Best said...

This does look like quite a cobbler! I used to love crunchy peaches too when I was growing up. Like you my palette has progressed to flavoring sugary tree-ripened fruits.

I like the way you described your technique vs your husband's way of eating a peach. I'm afraid I am too American to use a fork and knife for this wonderful fruit.

asiangrrl said...

What a joyful post and what a gorgeous cobbler.

Julia @Mélanger said...

Jamie, I had to check out this peach cobbler. AMAZING! As I tweeted, so looking forward to peaches coming back in season again here soon. They'd have to be my most favourite fruit, ever. Can you believe I've never made cobbler? I will have to book mark this for the summer! Thanks for sharing. :)

Claudia said...

Oh how summer special. Definitely doing this while the peaches are in season.Keep posting peach recipes...

theUngourmet said...

This is our peach season as well. I loved it when you wrote "Now summer plays tag with the fall..." This is just exactly the way it felt here today. Your peach cobbler is as beautiful as your post!

Lisa said...

Oh yummy, yummy, yummy! I have a ton of peaches I need to use (just been eating them out of hand) and I've seen several bloggers doing peach cobbler..almost a last grasp at Summer fruit bounties, so I'm joining in :) Your peach cobbler looks insanely amazing!

As always, loved reading your post - the imagery of cool, crisp weather and leaves of Fall made me crave it. Fall is my fav season, and frankly, as usual come the mid to end of every August, I'm sick of Summer lol

Lisa said...

Oh yummy, yummy, yummy! I have a ton of peaches I need to use (just been eating them out of hand) and I've seen several bloggers doing peach cobbler..almost a last grasp at Summer fruit bounties, so I'm joining in :) Your peach cobbler looks insanely amazing!

As always, loved reading your post - the imagery of cool, crisp weather and leaves of Fall made me crave it. Fall is my fav season, and frankly, as usual come the mid to end of every August, I'm sick of Summer lol

Cristie said...

Jamie, I just made this wonderful cobbler and you are completely right--- this is delicious and I can see why it is your favorite recipe. It's going into my fav's as well.

Dinetonite said...

I love peaches!!!!!!!

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