I’ve been going slightly peach-mad lately. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such an incredible peach season before, and it’s simply glorious.
Apart from guzzling them up fresh, biting into them whole, juices running down my chin and leaving sticky trails down my forearm, I’ve been slicing them over yoghurt and granola for breakfast, making them into golden jam that looks like the summer sun setting, baking them into simple lemony, buttery cakes, and now this new revelation: turning them into cobbler.
I’d never made cobbler before, but the idea appealed to me immensely…I mean, sweet, juicy fruit bubbling away under a buttery layer of crumbly pastry, filling my house with the warm smell of vanilla and stone fruit wafting from the oven…what’s not to love?
I adore simple desserts like this, and I have a thing for stewed/roasted fruits in general…so, with the abundance of gorgeous peaches filling up my fridge drawer, it just made perfect sense to conjure up this beautiful cobbler for a slow weekend breakfast…although it would make an equally lovely dessert with a large pot of earl grey tea after a light dinner.
I kind of winged it with the pastry topping, and am thrilled with the results. Think of it as a mash-up of a scone, a biscuit and cake; flaky, crumbly, buttery, with a crisp golden crust, and thankfully, a breeze to put together using a food processor. Just the kind of pastry my foggy brain can handle in the morning, which trust me, is not when I’m functioning at my finest.
For the fruit mixture, I kept things simple to focus on the sensational flavour of these sweet, ripe peaches. A little hint of vanilla because I am hopelessly addicted to it, a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten things up a bit, a tiny amount of sugar or honey (the fruit was sweet enough and hardly needed any help), and just a touch of cornstarch to thicken it ever so slightly. I peeled my peaches using the boiling water method I talked about in my last post, although you could easily skip this step and slice the peaches with the skin on…I think it would be perfectly delicious either way.
To tell you the truth, I hardly ever need any accompaniments to my baked goods; I am a bit of a purist, I’ve discovered. I usually prefer to have my cake/crumble/cobbler/brownie etc. plain, just on its own. Ice cream never has a place on top of my other sweets; to me it is a dessert in and of itself. Other toppings like whipped cream or sour cream (pictured here) rarely feel necessary either, and I ended up skipping it entirely…I just find that usually, whatever I am eating is perfect just as it is, and not in need of improvements or embellishments…but that’s just me! So by all means, feel free to ignore me completely and top yours with whatever your heart desires!
This cobbler was so incredibly good, I believe it was totally worth the nasty burn I acquired while making it, by forgetting that the cast iron skillet was hellishly hot and grabbing the handle with my bare palm…it was a moment of sheer stupidity and too much excitement over the food, which happens to me much more often than I would care to admit. I no longer have many fingerprints, but it didn’t stop me from photographing the dish, albeit with one hand only and a wonderfully helpful #InstagramHusband assisting with the weight of the camera. I have zero regrets.
- FOR THE FRUIT:
- • 1kg ripe but firm peaches (about 6 large ones)
- • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- • seeds from ½ vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- • 45g (1/4 cup) brown sugar, OR 2-3 tbsp. honey, or to taste
- • 1 tbsp. cornstarch (also know as corn flour)
- FOR THE PASTRY:
- • 225g plain flour
- • 50g sugar
- • ½ tsp. salt
- • 2 tsp. baking powder
- • 85g butter, cut into small cubes, very cold
- • 60ml (1/4 cup) milk
- • a little extra sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 210 C (410 F)
- To peel the peaches (optional): bring a large pot of water to the boil. Make a shallow X in the bottom of each peach with a sharp knife. Drop the peaches into the boiling water and leave them for just 30-40 seconds, then remove them from the water and immerse them into a bowl of cold water. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, use your fingers to pull the skin off; it should peel right off very easily! Slice the peaches into 8ths and discard the pit (it can be a bit tricky to get rid of the pit, as it is usually really stuck to the flesh. What I do is cut off the cheeks of the peach like you would do a mango, then cut off the 2 parts on either side of the pit and discard it). Otherwise, just slice the peaches with the skin on.
- Place the sliced peaches, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar/honey & cornstarch into a 24cm cast iron skillet or similarly sized baking dish. Give them a good mix together, then place the skillet/dish into the oven for 10 minutes, while you prepare the topping.
- To make the pastry topping: in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt & baking powder and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the cubed butter (make sure to keep the butter in the fridge until just before using it!) and pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with bits of pea-sized butter still visible. Pour in the milk with the motor running on medium then switch off the motor right away. You don’t want it to be smooth and form a uniform dough, it should be crumbly and have differently sized clumps.
- Take the fruit filling out of the oven (carefully! it will be super hot!) and sprinkle the pastry onto the surface, spreading out the clumps loosely without compacting them, without covering the fruit completely. I like to keep a few centimetres of the fruit around the edge exposed, so that the fruit can bubble away comfortably and give off steam. Don’t worry about making the top neat and smooth, you want it to look messy and clumpy! (refer to photos). Sprinkle a little extra sugar on top for an extra crispy crust.
- Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry has risen and formed a lovely deep golden crust, and the fruit is bubbling vigorously. Serve warm as it is, or top with a dollop of cream/sour cream/yoghurt or even ice cream if you please. Leftovers can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 3 days, and can be reheated in a warm oven with very good results.