Today’s #TBT Throwback Thursday Entry is an Homage to Edna Lewis’s Peach Cobbler Recipe
Cobblers are a rather casual affair and can come in a few guises and recipes. Perhaps the most common one that we envision when we think of peach cobbler is a casserole dish filled with sweetened fruit, and topped with biscuits, either drop style or cut out and placed over the fruit filling. Either way, the fruit bakes, concentrates in flavor and color and bubbles up in-between the biscuits and the whole is much more than a sum of its parts. Recently I was reading about peach cobblers and became a bit obsessed with Edna Lewis’ recipe. Edna Lewis was known as the doyenne of southern cooking and her peach cobbler recipe was legendary. She published her version in her classic book, In Pursuit of Flavor, and it is favored by many southerners and northerners alike. Who was I to argue with such acclaim? Her choice was to use a piecrust topping and wove a lattice over the fruit. The crust was beneath as well as above. She also served hers with a nutmeg sauce and I decided to try her approach. Note that there is quite a bit of butter in the filling; it is not a typo! This is a very sweet dessert; I prefer it without the sauce, which makes it even sweeter, but I do like it warm with a drizzle of cold heavy cream.
Adapted from In Pursuit of Flavor, by Edna Lewis. Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.
- 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- Scant teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 4 to 6 tablespoons cold water
- 8 large peaches, peeled
- ¾ to 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 tablespoons brandy or peach brandy
- For the Crust: Position rack in center of over. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick spray; set aside.
- Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Add the butter and cut in, using a pastry blender or two knives, until the fat is cut into approximately ⅛-inch pieces. Sprinkle the smaller amount of water over the flour mixture and toss with fingers or a fork until evenly moistened and the dough just holds together if squeezed. Add additional water only if necessary. Gather the dough into a ball and allow to rest for 15 minutes while you prepare filling.
- For the Peach Filling: Cut the peaches into ½-inch slices directly into a bowl. Add sugar to taste and toss. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
- For Assembly: Roll out half of the dough into a 12-inch circle and fit into prepared pie plate, making sure it comes all the way up the sides. Scrape the peach filling into the crust. Top with thin slices of the butter.
- Roll out remaining dough to a ¼-inch thickness and cut into 1-inch strips. Weave an open lattice on top of the peach filling. Seal the edges by pinching the lattice and the bottom crust together. Don’t worry about being neat; this is meant to be easy and rustic.
- Place in the preheated oven and turn the oven down to 425°F. Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or until pastry is lightly browned and filling is bubbling. Make the sauce while cobbler bakes.
- For the Sauce: Place the sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg and salt in a small saucepan and whisk to combine. Add cold water and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat and bring to a simmer; simmer gently for 10 minutes
- For Serving: Remove from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes before serving with nutmeg sauce or a drizzle of cold heavy cream.
- Grate a whole nutmeg with a microplane grater to measure out the ½-teaspoon. The microplane makes fluffy shavings and this will give you the accurate measurement.
- Most sauces that are cornstarch thickened suggest only boiling for a minute or two with the warning that the thickening properties will lessen. I was nervous to try Edna’s 10-minute technique, but it works beautifully and thickens the sauce considerably.
Image: Dédé Wilson