When I come home from the farmer’s market, toting a basket of fruit, the inevitable chain of events that follows goes something like this: I place the fruit on the counter, walk over to my recipe binders to grab the blue dessert binder, then go stand in front of my cookbook cabinet, scanning titles, mentally flipping the pages I know so well, grab a few books for inspiration, then plop myself on the couch, preferrably with a cup of coffee in hand, to decide what fate my little fruits will meet.
A perfect piece of fruit sometimes needs no accompaniment at all, but usually I can’t resist an opportunity to pull out the flour and sugar, so that perfect piece of fruit becomes a perfect little dessert. In the world of desserts, there is terrain I’ve yet to explore…treats and goodies that have never emerged from my oven, such as madeleines and canneles. But when it comes to fruit, I always ponder the classic options first – will it be a pie this time, or a tart? A cobbler or a buckle? A crisp or a slump? Or, a cake, with tender pieces of fruit tucked inside?
The answer to these questions depends on what my motivation is that particular day. If I’m baking for the sake of baking, it’s probably a pie, if it’s for my loving husband, he will probably ask for a cobbler, and if it’s just for me, I adore a good crisp, with a big melting scoop of ice cream on top. This time around, the fruit at hand was the noble peach, and the motivation was my sweetie, so peach cobbler it was! The recipe I chose was from the cookbook I’ve mentioned before, Ripe for Dessert, by David Lebovitz. The following recipe is adapted slightly from the original – Nectarine and Blueberry Cobbler with Big Fluffy Biscuits.
Adapted from Ripe for Dessert, by David Lebovitz
For Fruit Filling:
7-9 medium ripe peaches, peeled (about 3 lbs)
4-6 tablespoons sugar, depending on the sweetness of your peaches
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Optional: One 6 ounce basket blueberries, raspberries or blackberries
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground ginger
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon milk
Position your oven rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the peaches in half, remove the pits, then cut into 1/2 inch slices. In a large mixing bowl, toss the peaches with the sugar, lemon juice, flour, vanilla, and berries if using.
Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart baking dish and roast the fruit for 30-40 minutes, turning once during baking, until nicely softened, and the juice have released.
To make the biscuits, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar in a medium bowl. Using the largest holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture. Stir in the buttermilk until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Spoon the biscuit batter over the fruit in roughly 6 equal mounds.
Mix the egg yolk with the milk and brush over the tops of the biscuits, then dust liberally with additional sugar and place the cobbler back in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.
Notes: I loved the method David used here of grating the frozen butter into the biscuit batter – it was so easy, and the biscuits really did turn out big, fluffy, and tender. The original recipe did not call for any spices in the biscuits, but I wouldn’t skip them…that was the one thing everyone commented on, and the biscuits might seem a little bland without them, as they are fairly low in fat. Next time I might even play around with adding a touch more sugar to the biscuits, or something like finely chopped nuts or candied ginger.