Monday, July 12, 2010

Grandma's Peach Cobbler.... sort of

I was blessed to have grown up with a southern Grandma. She was, as is required by South Carolina's state law, an amazing cook. Biscuits and gravy, fried okra, and oh sweet lord - Peach Cobbler.* The peaches she could get were as big as my head, perfectly ripe, soft and so flavorful, they were just heavenly. My mom also made a mean peach cobbler, but living in NJ, then CA meant we never quite got the same flavor as grandma did. Nevertheless, this peach cobbler beats anything you'll find in a restaurant hands down!

When I moved out on my own, this was one recipe I made sure to write down. In fact I wrote it down in this cutesy little journal my mom had given me that ended up being the repository for all my family recipes and little bits of advice to myself as I negotiated the challenges of living on my own. I even pasted a picture of my 'dream home' in the back. It was that kind of journal.

Anyway this is one of the things that counted as a precious possessions when I left for Thailand and I was sure to save it. Unfortunately I didn't write down specifically where I packed it and haven't been able to locate it. =(Never fear! My sister is also a fan of grandma's peach cobbler and had written down a copy of the recipe and sent it to me in a care package at some point. So when a friend brought over a box of peaches the other day, I knew what I had to do.

The problem was... my sister had taken a few liberties with the recipe (replacing the batter with a bisquick batter & cutting down the butter a bit) and while I noticed it was different... I couldn't remember the exact recipe I'd gotten from my mom. Anyway... regardless of the specific measurements, the secret is in the method of preparation.

You start with three bowls, the fruit the batter and the BUTTAH!
The fruit: 3 cups of peaches (the better your peaches, the better this will be) & 1/2 cup of sugar mix them up by hand. I squirted a tiny bit of lemon juice on the, only because these peaches are good, but not superior and I wanted to bump up the flavor a bit.

The batter: my sister calls for a cup of bisquick 1/2 cup of sugar and "enough milk to make it the right consistency." I was chatting with her** while baking & she described it as "thinner than a biscuit dough, but thicker than pancake batter... about like waffle batter". I didn't have bisquick, so I used a cup of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder & about 3/4 cup of milk.

The butter: Again... a difference between her recipe and grandma's... she said 1/2 a stick of butter, but I am SURE my grandma's recipe called for a full stick of butter to be melted in the casserole dish as the oven preheats (350F). I compromised and used about 2/3 of a stick.

Now what you do is wait until the butter gets all melty and bubbly and wonderful, then you POUR THE BATTER INTO THE BUTTER, and *then* you pour the fruit into the batter. DO.NOT. STIR. This is the critical part. I have seen cobblers where they put the fruit in the bottom, then put little rounds of biscuits on top. It makes me want to cry. That's not cobbler!! WTF?Because what happens is you put it in the oven for about 45 mins, and the batter will bubble up through the fruit and get all fruity & wonderful on the inside, and fry up in the butter on the outside and get all crispy brown and coated with awesomeness. When you take it out of the oven, it will be all kinds of bubbly and juicy... spoon some of the juices/butter up over the doughy parts while it's still warm.

I swear to you, having cobbler this way will change your life! Ok... or maybe it will just make you make a lot of intense yummy noises.

You can eat this pure (it's best a little warm, but good cooled off too), but naturally adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream or fresh whip cream will just take it over the top. I have had this peach cobbler for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and am pretty sure this is what heaven tastes like.

This cobbler also has magical powers. Or perhaps it was Grandma looking down on me and giving me a helping hand. But while the cobbler was in the oven I hunted through my boxes of books and on my second time through one of the boxes I *finally* found the book with all my recipes in it. =) So here is the actual recipe from my grandma... and the explanation for why my sister wrote it down 'wrong'... she was halving the recipe.

6 cups sliced peaches
1 1/2 cups sugar (in a bowl, set aside)

1 1/2 sticks of butter (melt in a casserole dish)

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
pinch salt
1 1/2 cups milk

Put the batter in the butter, put the fruit in the batter, do not stir. Bake at 350 for 45 min.

*In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably tell you that she died of a heart attack, but the way I see it, life without peach cobbler wouldn't be much a life I'd want to live anyway. =P

**castigating her vehemently for taking liberties with Grandma's recipe.