What do you bring to the Labor Day Picnic? Well, Northern Peaches are in season!
Our local peaches are beautiful and abundant, and it is time for a special dessert. This dish makes plenty to share at a picnic or potluck. It’s best to use a mix of sweet ripe fruit, and a few that are still just a tad hard. The fruit that is slightly under ripe has more pectin and that will help in the setting of the juices. You can also add a few raspberries if you have them on hand to add another element of flavor and color. I use all-purpose flour in this but you can also use the same amount of cornstarch. This looks like a lot of ingredients, but it goes together really quickly, one bowl, one pan, messy fingers.
Preheat your oven 400 degrees. In a buttered 8 ½” X 13” baking dish, mix together:
For the Filling:
- 9 cups or so of peeled and sliced local yellow peaches
- 3/4 cup sugar
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ginger
- Few grates of nutmeg
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
Choose ripe peaches at their peak of sweetness. Taste them! You will want the best fruit you can find. Peel them and cut into slices. Place them in the baking dish and add sugar, flour, spices, vanilla, and lemon zest. Toss everything until evenly coated and give a hefty squeeze of lemon juice over all.
No runny juice please!
Bake this for 10 minutes or so to precook the peaches. This starts the thickening of the flour and the pectin on the sauce. Remove from oven and if you have a few raspberries, toss them in too for a little extra color, but don’t add too many. Dot with a couple of tablespoons of butter.
The topping is a simple, loose dropped biscuit dough that will be clumped on top of the precooked fruit. You can put this together easily while the fruit cooks.
For the topping:
In a large bowl, whisk together:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tbsp. double acting baking powder, non-aluminum
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- A pinch of salt
Once blended, add:
- 1 stick very cold butter, cut into small cubes
Blend together with a pastry blender, or your fingers (my preference). You will want this to still have lumpy texture, about the size of peas as they always say.
A little at a time, add:
- 1 cup half-and-half or milk
Using a light touch, gently toss with a wooden spoon, or your fingers, just until combined. You might not need all the liquid depending on the humidity of the day and the flour you use. The topping should be looser than a traditional biscuit dough, but not too wet.
Drop by dollops onto the top of the peaches. The peaches will poke out in spots. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar if you have it on hand.
Place the baking dish on a baking sheet (spillover insurance, trust me, you will need it) and place on the middle rack of the oven. Turn the heat down immediately to 375, and bake for about 40 minutes – you want the cobbler to be beautifully browned, and the fruit cooked and bubbling through the crust.
Let set for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or crème fraîche, which adds a little tang