For the rest of the country, summer means sticky heat waves and swimming pools, lightning bugs and sunburn cream. We San Franciscans have a slightly different way of looking at summer, bundled up against our “June gloom” as the marine layer seeps in through the Golden Gate and hugs the city like a blanket. We don’t have many sundresses in our closets, no need for bug repellent or air conditioning.
What we do have is stonefruit. We have cherries and plums and peaches, so fat and heavy with juice that you have to lean over the sink to take a bite. We have Frog Hollow‘s Crimson Ladies and Suncrests, K & J Orchards‘ Bings and Rainiers. We have ethereal (and elusive) Blenheim apricots and sunshine-sweet pluots. Such beautiful fruit is really best eaten out of hand, but I love the simplicity of an old-fashioned cobbler, the fruit baked to a yielding, slurpy softness, a flaky biscuit topping soaking up the thick juices, a little scoop of vanilla ice cream. I like this particular recipe as the pastry has a proud, sturdy quality and it’s not very sweet, letting the natural flavors of the peaches and blackberries really shine. Even in the fog, we have summer, too.
Peach & Blackberry Cobbler
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson, 2009
for the fruit:
- 4 large peaches, pitted and sliced (about 2 lbs prepped)
- 1 pint blackberries
- 1 large lemon
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
for the cobbler topping:
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 10 tablespoons (5 oz) unsalted butter, cold and diced into cubes
- 2/3 C + 1 tablespoon cold buttermilk, divided
- sanding or turbinado sugar, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, gently toss the peaches, blackberries, 1/2 cup sugar and the juice from one lemon. Let the fruit sit for about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prep the ingredients for the cobbler topping. Strain the juice from the fruit into a small saucepan and heat until reduced by half. Sift the cornstarch over the fruit and toss with the reduced juice. Transfer to a deep dish pie pan or other baking dish.
In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Add the cold butter and pulse until the pieces break down to the size of large peas. Transfer to a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in the buttermilk and use a fork to toss the mixture together until it’s moistened but still a bit crumbly, with little hunks of butter still visible. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and pat into a flat disc. Use a biscuit cutter (or a juice glass dipped in a bit of flour) to cut out rounds of dough. Place on top of the fruit. Brush the tops with a little bit of buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar.
Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet (to catch any overflowing juices) and bake for 30 minutes on a lower rack. Turn down the heat to 350 degrees for 20 more minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the juices are thick and bubbly. Let cool for about 20-30 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Note: if you roll out this biscuit dough to make one large pie crust-like topping, you now have a “pandowdy” rather than cobbler. I made this with the roasted pork I wrote about recently; put the cobbler in with the pork at 425 and let it go for about 30-40 minutes once you’ve turned the heat down. (If the pastry takes on too much color while it’s baking, cover loosely with a bit of foil.) Once the pork’s finished, turn the temperature down to 200 (or your “warm” setting) and put the cobbler back in until it’s time for dessert. Keep any leftovers wrapped at room temperature.