July 15, 2010

Peach Cobbler. Nuf said.

People have many different interpretations of cobbler. Some people think cobbler has a crumbled topping, when in fact, that's a crisp. Others like to make a cobbler with a few scattered biscuits on top, allowing the hot filling to bubble through (so good!). However, according to Alex, it's not a cobbler unless it's got a solid biscuit top, like a pie. Now that it's summertime, peaches are overflowing in the markets, so it seemed only natural to make my hardworking guy the cobbler of his dreams.

I would like to take a second and emphasize the "hardworking" part. Alex either works 7-4 or 11-8, on his feet most of the day, helping his patients. Then he comes home to an overly excited dog who wants nothing more than to jump all over him, and a sometimes cranky and tearful pregnant wife who is on the couch, too drained from work to move. Once in a while he'll come home to a happy me...the one who is happy that she had enough energy to walk the dog, go to the gym, run errands, make dinner and bake a delicious homemade dessert. That's happened 3 times in 4.5 months. Sigh. I love that man. He deals with all of this, and hasn't complained at all. Did I mention that he rubs my feet, too?

So, how could I not make him a peach cobbler? I used the topping from Dorie's Mixed Berry Cobbler recipe and improvised the peach filling, based on a few online recipes. Cobbler filling, no matter what the fruit, is pretty simple. Fruit, some sugar, maybe a spice or two, maybe some butter. Done. This cobbler was perfect! Not too sweet, with a really thick and buttery biscuit topping. Served warm with vanilla ice cream, it made my guy so happy. And that makes me so happy.

Peach Cobbler

Topping Ingredients:
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into little bits
3/4 cup cold heavy cream

Filling Ingredients:
6-8 fresh peaches, peeled (explained below) and sliced
1/2-3/4 cup sugar (I used white and brown)
cinnamon, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 and butter a 9-inch pie dish.

TO MAKE THE TOPPING: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces in between — and that's just right.

Pour the cream over the dry ingredients and toss and gently turn the ingredients with a fork until you've got a very soft dough. When the dough comes together, you'll probably still have dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl — just use a spatula or your hands to mix and knead the dough until it's evenly blended.

Don't overdo it; it's better to have a few dry spots than an overworked dough. Even with all the flour mixed in, the dough will be soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap, cover with another sheet of paper or plastic and gently press or roll the dough into a circle that is a scant 9 inches in diameter. Don't worry about getting the size exact or about seeing that the edges are even — this is a very homey dessert, and a rough-around the-edges biscuit adds to its charm. Set the dough aside while you prepare the fruit. (If it's more convenient, you can refrigerate the dough on a baking sheet for up to 6 hours before baking it — just make sure it's well covered.)

In order to peel the fresh peaches, you'll have to blanch them. Sounds complicated, but it's very easy. Set a large pot of water to boil, and set aside a bowl filled with ice water. Lightly score an "X" on the bottom of each peach, and place gently into the boiling water. Allow the peaches to boil for 1 minute or so, and then scoop out and place immediately into the ice water. Once they are cool enough to handle, you can peel off the skin. Start with the "X", and the skin will pop right off. Careful, they'll be slippery!

Toss together the sliced peaches, sugar and any spices you're using and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Carefully pour the mixture into the buttered pie dish and cover with the dough circle. Gently push and pat the dough into place, making sure to seal the edges well.

Carefully score 6 lines into the dough, allowing for steam to escape. I also cut a small circle in the middle, to prevent more bubbling and steam build-up. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for 60-75 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling is hot and bubbly.

Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!