Saturday, January 18, 2014

Southern Living's "Mama's way" peach cobbler

Or, peach pie and hubris. Or, ye gods, where does the time go? The recipe is from Southern Living's June 2010 issue. I did not make the cobbler until that October and now here we are, almost a year on from then

Sixteen cups of peaches, three cups of sugar, and four pie crusts seemed an incredible amount of foodstuffs to fit into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish, so I revised this opulently summery recipe before having at it one autumnal Sunday afternoon. The more fool me. Here are the ingredients for the original:

  • 12 to 15 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (about 16 cups)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 3 cups sugar [good grief, how sour are these peaches? Won't half this amount do?]
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 (15 oz.) packages refrigerated pie crusts
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • 5 Tbsp sugar, divided

You'll perceive that the editors at Southern Living opted for fresh peaches -- the June issue, you know -- but store-bought pie crusts. I reversed the plan, making homemade pie crusts but buying (not enough) Libby's plastic-jarred peaches, which were actually very good. They surely did not require sweetening with three cups of sugar. Though I spared them that indignity, I almost think that in my tweaking of the recipe, all I accomplished was in the end to ruin them. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Mama's cobbler is not too difficult in theory. First, you preheat the oven to 475 F. Then you stir together the peaches, flour, nutmeg, and some sugar -- let's try a cup and a half -- in a big pot, bringing it all to a boil over medium heat. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes, and then remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Spoon half the peach mixture into the lightly greased 13 x 9 dish.

Next, unroll two of the store-bought pie crusts, or divide and roll out your own homemade dough. You will need four crusts, so double an ordinary two-crust pastry recipe and create from it the four balls of dough required. Keep two of them refrigerated briefly while you work with the first set. Sprinkle on to one of the rolled crusts half of the pecans (1/4 cup) and half the 5 Tbsp. portion of sugar (2 and 1/2 Tbsp.). Roll out the second crust and lay it on top of the first, making a sort of pie-dough-and-pecan sandwich. Trim the whole thing to fit the baking dish, and drape it carefully over the first helping of peaches in the dish.

Bake at 475 F for 20 to 25 minutes, until it is lightly browned.

But hold! This is a cobbler. (I guess they're different.) So after having half-baked the pie, remove it from the oven and repeat the entire process. Go ahead -- pile all the rest of the peaches right onto it.

Roll out the third and fourth pie crusts. Sprinkle the rest of the pecans and sugar over one, and lay on the other to make a second dough-and-pecan sandwich. Cleverly cut this one into lattice strips. No joke. Well, maybe yes, a joke.

Place the pecan-sandwich lattice strips onto to the second layer of peaches, tuck and pinch them to secure them to the edges of the dish, sprinkle another tablespoon of sugar over all, and return everything to the oven. Bake 15 to 18 more minutes, until all is slightly and beautifully browned.

The picture in the magazine is gorgeous -- you can just see the peaches burst with sunny June flavor, and the cobbler crust flake delicately under the big spoon. You can almost taste the nutmeg. My picture, not so much. It tasted like an awfully big helping of gooey wet dough and not nearly enough peaches in a too-small dish (see hubris and tweaking, above). 

By the way, the little brown bits on top are singed extra pecans, not mouse droppings. I was afraid you'd worry.

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