Thursday, July 15, 2010

Peachy Keen

So it's really summer now, and not just in LA. As temperatures rise all across the country, really good fruit starts to show up in the farmers markets and grocery stores around the country. I mean seriously, the blueberries, cherries, plums, apricots, and ohh my god the peaches, are all insane. With all that good fruit it's hard not to eat fruit constantly, and next to impossible not to bake good fruity things.

On a side note, the other day my dad used "OMG" in an e-mail to me. I get that it's a time saver and all but there's something weird about my father typing in text speak. He is neither 16 nor female. Just letting you know, dad

So the other day a friend of mine called. He had some good lookin' peaches, and really needed something to bring to a party. I told him to bring over some peaches and buttermilk and we'd make a killer peach cobbler. Now cobbler means different things to different people, from an almost crumble like crisp, to a more cakelike dough with fruit baked in and everything in between. My variation of cobbler is good, juicy, flavorful fruit under moist biscuit dough. Why biscuit dough? Because I love biscuits . . . they're good any time of day, with anything.

First, I made the peach filling. You can do this with pretty much any fruit or combination of fruits, but peaches are classic for a really good reason. To make this one I used the 5 peaches my friend brought me, plus a 12 oz bag of frozen sliced peaches, since the 5 just wasn't going to be enough. You can do all fresh, especially this time of the year, when fresh peaches are good and plentiful, or all frozen in the dead of the winter. It all works.

To make the filling I peeled my peaches, removed the pits, sliced them into uniform peaches, added the bag of frozen peaches I have (just to round things out, plus frozen peaches have really good texture when baked).

Next, it was time to season the peaches. I used a handful of good cinnamon, A generous splash of almond extract (seen here measured out in a standard shot glass) and about a quarter teaspoon of fresh grated nutmeg. Seriously, don't use the pre-ground stuff. It has more in common with woodchips than spices.

Along with the seasonings, I added sugar (½ cup white sugar (or vanilla sugar in my case) and ½ cup light brown sugar) and ½ cup of cornstarch.

Everything went into a big bowl with the peaches, and I used my hands to toss everything evenly. You can use a spoon or whatever but I like to use my hands and really get in there. I'm a hands-on baker to say the very least. Once everything is coated it'll be a little milky looking from the cornstarch. That's fine. Mix the stuff and set it aside. 

Ok, y'all! Its biscuit time (sorry, my infinitely horrible Paula Deen impression doesn't translate to print). This biscuit recipe makes a really good free form biscuit (too moist to be rolled out). If using it for savory applications, leave out the sugar, spoon it onto a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes. Now on to the recipe

Dry Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teasponn baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

Wet Ingredients

4 tablespoons unsalted butter (or half butter half lard if you're feeling good and pork-y)

1 ½ cups buttermilk


Ok, first, whisk together all the dry ingredients so they're evenly combined. 

Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour until it's evenly combined. Alternately, freeze it solid, grate it, and toss the butter flakes into the dry ingredients. 

Then, add the buttermilk, stirring gently to combine.

You want the mixture to look kinda chunky or uneven, but be moist. Once its combined, that's all folks! Time to assemble the cobbler

Grease up a baking dish. I used this cute ceramic baking dish, but you can use pyrex, foil, or even a cast iron skillet. Actually, the cast iron skillet is pretty sexy and rustic in presentation. But I digress. Butter up your dish, then fill it with your peachy mixture. 

Next, top it with the biscuit mixture. Just spread the stuff over the top evenly, trying to get all the way to the edges. Having some little holes in the covering is fine, but try to get the dough around the edges so the filling doesn't bubble over and burn on the oven floor. That stuff smells. 

Sprinkle the top with sanding sugar, raw sugar, or white sugar, and bake the cobbler at 375 for 30-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and delicious and the filling as thickened from the cornstarch!