Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nancy's Famous Peach Cobbler

Today is my mother's 60th birthday, and I wish that I were in the same country so I could celebrate with her tonight.  My mother is an incredible cook, a true SouthernSpoonBelle.  Growing up there was always a delicious meal laid out each evening at home, so that dinner time was a chance for the family to sit back, dig in, and catch up on the day's activities.  I am so grateful to my mother for creating that memorable space for us each evening, centered around a wholesome, homemade meal.

On special nights there would be dessert.  Oh, can my mother make a good dessert.  Brownies, cookies, cakes, pies, cobblers, homemade ice cream... without fail, they are always delicious. Her peach cobbler, in fact, is proven so: voted best dessert at a Baptist church bake-off a few years ago.  That's high praise.

She started making peach cobbler in the summers, after our family would bring back crates of peaches to the house following our annual peach-picking outing.  She would make a fresh cobbler and homemade vanilla ice cream so that we could enjoy our spoils, then she'd skin and slice the rest of the peaches.  I'd often stand at the kitchen sink to catch the peach skins as they coiled off of her paring knife, not wanting any bit of the fruit to be thrown away!  The fresh peach slices would then be piled into freezer bags, ready to be made into cobbler anytime we felt like it, even in mid-winter.
Southern Spoon blog: peach cobbler
Mom's peach cobbler on the dessert table at my brother's wedding...
 picture courtesy of my talented cousin!
This cobbler is so good that my brother and his wife requested it to grace the dessert table at their Louisiana Southern-plantation-style wedding recently.  They served a selection of their favorite family sweets to guests, and Momma Nancy's Peach Cobbler was a hit.  If I haven't convinced you yet, try it yourself... just make sure to use peaches that are in-season and ripe.  Mother's homemade vanilla ice cream is the best accompaniment, but store-bought vanilla ice cream will do.  Enjoy... and Happy Birthday to Nancy!

Nancy's Famous Peach Cobbler 
Serves about 10

Cobbler Crust: 

3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup crisco
9-10 tblsp. ice water

Cut the salt and crisco into the flour with a pastry cutter or two knives.  Add half of the ice water, sprinkling it over the dough, toss the dough with a fork, then add the other half of the water, cutting with your pastry cutter or knives just until the mixture comes together.

Divide dough in half.  Cover half of dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out the other half of the dough to about a 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut the dough into long strips, about 3 inches by 1 inch.  Place the strips of dough on a cookie sheet and bake at 425F/ 220C for about 7-10 minutes, until barely brown.

Cobbler Filling: 

1/2 cup butter
9 ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tblsp. flour
dash of cinnamon
pinch of salt

Mix the butter, peaches, and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil.  In a separate bowl, blend the dry ingredients, then stir them into the boiling mixture.  Stir until dissolved, about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

Remove the reserved dough from the fridge.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness in a 10x10 inch square.

Grease and flour a 9x9 inch baking pan or glass dish (glass works best).  Place one layer of the cooked crust strips on the bottom of the pan, top with half of the peach mixture.  Place another layer of the cooked crust strips on top of the peach mixture, then top with the remaining peach mixture.  Top the cobbler with the rolled out dough.  Press the dough with your fingers to the edge of the pan to seal.  Cut slits or a decoration in the dough (Mother cuts a seasonal decoration, initials, or a giant peach shape-- get creative!).

Place the pan on top of a larger pan or cookie sheet with a lip to catch any drips.  Bake at 375F/ 190C for 35-40 minutes, until the peach mixture is bubbling and the crust is beginning to brown on top.  Serve immediately with ice cream.  Can be refrigerated up to a week or frozen up to 6 months, sealed snuggly with foil.

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