Tag Archives: Lee Bailey

Searching for the Perfect Peach Cobbler

Although I bought both ripe and un-ripe peaches on Saturday, those that I didn’t use in the first cobbler were already ripe by Monday given the heat wave we had over the weekend.  Although making another recipe meant a ton of peach cobbler in the house, I didn’t want to waste the fruit (and so far no one has turned me down when I’ve offered them peach cobbler).

I decided to try this recipe from Gourmet (September 1999).  I used huge, gorgeous yellow peaches from Hamada Farms.  I think I might like these yellow peaches even better than the two varieties I bought from Blossom Bluff.  These large yellow peaches had that traditional sweet/tart classic yellow peach taste that immediately transports you to where ever you were, which ever summer it was, when you first experienced a perfect peach.

peaches

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topping

on the way in

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out

I loooved this.  I pains me to admit it, because I’m so sentimentally devoted to Lee Bailey, but I like this cobbler much better than the first.  There are two reasons why.

First, the lemon.  Baking even the best peaches with any amount of sugar creates a heavy sweetness.  Just a small amount of lemon (one tablespoon in this case) is a reliable means of ensuring the acidity of the raw peaches remains a vibrant part of the final product.  Second, the crust.  I really loved Bailey’s crust (I guess that makes me a Crisco lover), but in my opinion this topping (it’s more a topping than a crust) is more authentically cobbler.  It’s ever so slightly cake-y and crumbly, qualities I think any true cobbler should have.

One criticism with a disclaimer.  First the disclaimer: I love sweet things, and I’ve been known to have a sweet tooth.  But, as with the first cobbler, I felt that this was much sweeter than necessary.  Perhaps I’m a purist when it comes to fruit.  Fruit desserts are some of my favorite, and any fruit that has been baked, cut, seasoned, or otherwise assembled by human hand is certainly distinct from fruit straight from the tree.  That said, I appreciate desserts that preserve as much of the fruit’s natural integrity as possible.

The quarter cup of sugar that goes in with the peaches seems appropriate, but I plan on making this again for the final cobbler bake-off (okay, I’m the only participant so far) and next time I will use far less sugar in my topping.  The recipe calls for a 1/2 cup where I’m sure a 1/4 cup would suffice.

More peaches and peach cobbler updates later in August.

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Summertime means Peach Cobbler

There’s nothing like spending a hot day in a hot kitchen to get you in touch with your Southern roots–and today was hot.  But this journey started yesterday–a much milder morning.

Peach season is at its peak, and if you don’t seize the moment it will pass you by.  I had a glorious morning yesterday at the Grand Lake farmers market.  I bought tons of peaches at different levels of ripeness, with the intention of making a series of cobblers over the next few days.  Blossom Bluff Orchard had great, perfectly ripe peaches.  I couldn’t decide between O’Henry (slightly tarter) and Summer Lady (slightly sweeter) so I decided to get four of each for the first cobbler.  And since I was using Lee Bailey’s recipe, which calls for seven large ripe peaches for a 7″x9″ deep dish, and I only have an 8″x10″ deep dish, I figured eight medium-to-large ripe peaches would serve me well.

I got home and started preparing the dough.

flour

I always love the neat cone-shaped mountains of flour sifting produces.

While I was doing that, I decided to heat up a snack in the microwave.  Being at the end of a long line of Southern ladies who typically distrust such kitchen technology as a matter of principal, I made a mistake that only a microwave novice would–I stuck my finger in my food to check if it was hot yet–due to my utter disbelief that it *could* be hot after one minute in this strange contraption.

Well, apparently that specious technology has come a long way.  My food was hot.  So hot that I burned my finger badly.  It hurt so badly I had to keep it on ice for a full two hours.

I feebly refrigerated the dough with my nine remaining digits with the intention of returning to the project the next day.

***

Today went much better.  The burn had settled down, and I had nothing to distract me from my baking other than myself.  So I took my time.

soldiers


peaches

——


peaches2

peaches3

pit

assembled

After some deliberation, I decided to leave the skins on my peaches.  Maybe Bailey would turn in his grave–but I totally missed the line in the ingredients section of the recipe about skinning the peaches.  Anyway I like the skin–the flesh of any stone fruit attached to the skin is always my favorite part because it’s usually where the tart-ness lies, which balances all the sweet.

The hardest part of this truly simple recipe was rolling out the dough.  I just don’t do enough baking to know how to roll out dough very well.  Luckily, the recipe didn’t call for a perfect circle, but the rolling still made me anxious.  After I reverse-rolled (“window-shade style”) and released the dough over the dish, I knew right away I didn’t have enough.  The dough is supposed to spill over the sides while you fill the dish with the fruit, to later be flopped back over on top to cover it.

I didn’t panic, I just decided to make more dough.  This time a double amount (since I’m planning to make more cobbler soon anyway).

doughontop

But before I covered everything with dough, I made a few adjustments.  Bailey’s recipe calls for a full cup of sugar.  It seemed like a lot of sugar.  So instead of a full cup I did two-thirds.  And my oven, purchased in 2007, has never been calibrated.  Bailey recommends forty-five minutes (or until crust is golden brown) at 450.  I set my oven to 450 and checked the cobbler after thirty-five.  It looked good, but could be slightly more golden, so I gave it another five minutes.  Here it is cooling on the porch:

golden

I decided I had to eat it for dinner.  I hadn’t picked up the vanilla ice cream but I just couldn’t wait.

final

The final verdict:

I utterly enjoyed eating this cobbler.  Spooning the first portion was incredibly gratifying–largely because the color that these peaches produced in this recipe is phenomenal.  The deep orange and red is perfect, and the liquid produced by the cooking is this gorgeous pink-wine.  And the crust–the crust is it.  I couldn’t hope for a better one.

Now it’s my first cobbler of the season and I don’t want to speak too soon, but it was a bit on the sweet side for me.  The peaches were perfectly cooked–great balance of firm and soft (and I didn’t think the attached peels detracted), but to be truly critical, the bites with that bit of tart punch which I crave were too few and far between.  The peaches I used were very sweet to begin with, so if I were using similar fruit I might try to reduce the sugar to a minimum–just enough to create a good syrupy interior–without adding too much sweetness.  Perhaps a third of a cup.

I’m sure I’ll continue to enjoy eating this one–and in the mean time I’m ready to try another.

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Monday Morning Links

  • Vena Cava has amassed a comprehensive to-do list for LA.  I’m homesick. (Viva Vena Cava)
  • P.S.: Vena Cava’s Fall 2009 collection just hit stores, see the collection (Style.com) and shop (Barneys)
  • UPDATE: how did I miss this?  Am I the last to know about this or what?  Please advise.  (Amazon)
  • Dylan Fareed makes a video of Santa Monica beach, I’m still homesick. (Dylan Fareed)
  • On a separate note: Thankfully, I’m not the only one who is tortured by the issue of pruning lavender. (Gardenweb)
  • It’s peach season, and this looks really good.  (The Kitchen Sink)
  • But it just makes crave a real old-fashioned cobbler, and there’s no one I can think of I trust more on the subject of peach cobbler than Lee Bailey (NPR)

peach4Image from thekitchensinkrecipes.com

I think I’ll just have to make both.

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