For close to 20 years, my grandmother’s fruit cobbler recipe has rested on my kitchen shelf between the pages of an old cookbook that also belonged to Grandma. It’s the simplest of recipes, easy to remember, easy to make, and easy to adapt to whatever fruit is available.
Grandma’s handwritten Peach Cobbler recipe calls for a can of cling peaches, which is fine in the dead of winter but a poor substitute for the gloriously complex flavors of peach cobbler made with fresh, tree-ripened local peaches.
We have a few young peach trees here at the farm, but they’re not particularly happy with their location and look a bit sickly. Fortunately, not far from the farm is a peach orchard planted with hundreds of healthy trees of various varieties. I’ve been feeding my summer peach obsession there. I started with a box of small early peaches in June, purchased on the first day the orchard store opened. Most weeks I go back for more because summer days without fresh, tree-ripened peaches are days only half-lived. Peaches for breakfast, plain or chopped with yogurt or oatmeal. Peaches on the side for lunch. A ripe peach snack on the way out the door for a walk, eaten whole with juice dripping down my chin until I’m so messy I must stop at the barn to wash up with the garden hose.
Best of all — Grandma’s Peach Cobbler.
To make it, start with a single stick of butter. Place it in a 9 x 13 pan or one of similar proportions. I particularly like my French White CorningWare for cobbler and usually use my largest oval dish. Turn the oven to 350 degrees F, and put the baking pan in the oven so the butter can melt while the oven’s heating.
In the meantime, mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. You’ll need one cup flour, 1/2 to 1 cup sugar (adjusted for taste), 1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Grandma used plain grocery store sugar, whatever was on sale, and she had a bit of a sweet tooth and preferred to use that full cup of sugar. I only use half a cup because I like my cobbler less sweet. I also like to use an organic cane sugar from the co-op with a warmer color and a more interesting flavor — that’s the organic sugar on the right side of the bowl.
Stir in one cup of milk.
Carefully remove the pan of melted butter from the oven. Pour the batter in with the melted butter — I get the best results when the butter is sizzling hot and just beginning to brown a tiny bit.
Add 6-8 cups of chopped peaches. Experiment a bit with the fruit quantities on this because some people like a higher fruit proportion. Some like less. After several batches, you’ll know which way works best for you. I used Redhavens in this batch, and I just washed them well but left the skins on because I like the flavor that the skins add to the cobbler.
Spread the chopped peaches on top of the batter. If you dawdle, the batter will begin to cook in that hot butter and start bubbling up around the peaches before you finish arranging them. It’s an interesting effect and one that can change the final product just a bit if you dawdle too long. Normally, the fruit all sinks down under the batter, which forms a crust on top. If there’s too much bubbling in the batter before you get the dish back into the oven, the fruit won’t all sink. The cobbler will still be yummy, but it’ll look different, and the center crust will be softer.
Usually this happens when I forget to cut up the peaches ahead of time or when I think I’m so fast and smart that I can mix the batter and get all the fruit cut before the butter melts. Maybe you’re that fast, but my oven usually wins that race.
Bake about 30 minutes, until the batter has risen to the top and browned slightly.
Note that the peaches didn’t sink so well in this batch, thanks to all that bubbling that occurred while I was dawdling . . . err, slicing and dicing.
Serve warm with whipped cream. Or cottage cheese, if that floats your boat.
Or warm with ice cream. Or cold, with or without ice cream. Heck, just steal a bite straight from the pan every time you walk through the kitchen. You’ll be glad you did.
The recipe:1 stick butter 1 cup flour 1/2 to 1 cup sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 cup milk 6-8 cups cut peaches Set oven temperature at 350 degrees F. Place butter in 9 x 13-inch baking dish, and place in oven to melt while oven heats. Mix together dry ingredients. Stir in milk. Pour batter over melted butter. Spread fruit over the batter. Bake 30 minutes or until the crust has risen and browned nicely. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or plain.