Thursday, June 24, 2004

Sofiya wanted my cobbler recipe, so this is for her.

My second year of grad school, I was a little obsessed with pie. Ok, totally obsessed. I'm not really the kind of person who can limit her obsessions. I was stressed out, I needed distraction, I hadn't discovered blogging yet, and so I made pie. For a couple of months, I made a pie at least every other day and sometimes more often. There was no way my roommate and I could consume that much pie, so I unloaded homemade pie onto anyone I could find: friends, neighbors, friends of friends and neighbors, you name it. I met most of my closest friends during this period. It turns out that you can buy affection with pie.

Anyway, at some point the weather got warmer and my pie crust stopped working. The secret to perfect pie crust is to make sure your butter, shortening, or other fat doesn't melt. (Actually, the secret to pie crust is to limit the amount of liquid that comes anywhere near your flour, and melted butter counts as liquid.) Suddenly, my stress-relief mechanism had become stressful. It may be possible to make pie crust in an un-air-conditioned kitchen in 90-degree weather, but I haven't yet reached that level of pie-crust expertise.

That's when I discovered cobbler. There's a reason that cobbler is popular in the South: it works no matter how steamy the weather is. Actually, cobbler is extremely difficult to screw up, and it's pretty wonderful. Peach pie is one of the best things in the world, but sadly peach season overlaps with too-hot-for-pie-crust season. Peach cobbler runs a close second and works regardless of the temperature. Here's the recipe I use:

4 cups peeled and sliced peaches. You can also use a combination of peaches and raspberries

2 cups sugar, or less to taste

1 stick butter

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Stick the sliced peaches in a bowl with one cup of the sugar. Set them aside.

Stick the butter in 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Put the pan in the oven until the butter has melted. Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside.

Combine the flour, the remaining 1 cup sugar (or less, if you like your cobbler relatively unsweet) and the baking powder. Slowly stir in the milk and mix until the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the pan on top of the melted butter. Spoon the peaches and their juices over the top of the batter. Bake the cobbler for 50 to 60 minutes, until light brown and bubbling. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Woo-hoo!! Thank you! Now I know what I'm making for dessert tonight. It's a funny thing, but I'd always supposed that the batter went on top of the peaches, not the peaches on top of the batter. I guess I've only had peach cobbler in restaurants and it came out sideways so I didn't know what was on top of what. Now I know better :)
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