August 27, 2018
This is about...
PEACH COBBLER with a Hot Sugar Crust--YUM!
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        IT’S TOO DARN HOT FOR PIE. But I’ve got a bunch of peaches sitting on my counter at their peak. So, my plan B? -- A COBBLER. BUT NOT JUST ANY COBBLER---ONE WITH A HOT SUGAR CRUST. Never heard of it? Me neither. But since I love to play with my food, and the sauna that is currently my kitchen won’t be an issue, I’m game.
        According to the recipe, peaches are first layered in the bottom, with the batter spread on top. That’s basic enough. But HERE’S THE TWIST. You sprinkle a layer of sugar over the batter, and then pour hot water all over it --definitely counter–intuitive. WHAT YOU END UP WITH IS A YUMMY PEACH LAYER WITH A CRUSTY, CRUNCHY TOP, ALMOST LIKE A CRÈME BRULEE. To get to the sweet, tender peaches, you have to crack through the crust with a spoon. It’s a very novel, but delicious, take on a cobbler.
        But, there is one substantial task that is always part of any peach dessert that I never look forward to--- peeling the peaches. Since I’m hot, and more than a little lazy, I just don’t want to go through the time-consuming process of boiling them to loosen their skins, and then pulling them off. So, I FOUND THIS GENIUS SOLUTION---POKE THE SKINS ALL OVER WITH A FORK! That breaks up the skin, and since you bake the cobbler for over an hour, the skins just melt into the fruit. You pretty much won’t even know they’re there. And best of all, no peeling required!
        I couldn’t help myself. It’s in my DNA to tweak recipes. So, I’ve eliminated some of the sugar in the original recipe, added a sprinkle of cinnamon and some vanilla, all to highlight the peachiness. Now, it’s a total winner in my book.
        YOUR KITCHEN IS GOING TO WARM UP WHILE IT BAKES. But you can sit in front of your A/C, or float in your pool if you have one while you’re waiting. I’ll be doing the A/C option myself.

LESSONS Learned:
1. Get freestone peaches—the kind where the pits easily come out.
2. Make sure that the peaches are fully ripe, blushed with orange and red—no green skins-- and, that they smell fragrant.
3. The batter will spread unevenly over the peaches, with some peaches peeking through the batter, but that’s fine. Just spread it all over the top as best you can.
4. If you like, you can throw in a handful of blueberries or raspberries in with the peaches.

Peach Cobbler with a Hot Sugar Crust
(inspired by Renee Erickson from Seattle’s Boat Street Café)

6-7 medium or 4-5 large, ripe peaches (about 2 ¼-2 1/2 pounds)
1/8 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons hot water
Whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Make the cobbler:
        Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil and set aside.
        To prep the peaches: Poke the peaches all over with a fork. Cut in half and remove the pits. Cut each half into 3 or 4 slices, and each slice into thirds. You should have about 6 cups of 1 inch chunks.
        Butter an 8 x 8 inch square metal or glass baking pan, or any similar sized baking pan or pie dish. Place the peaches in an even layer into the pan. Drizzle the lemon juice over the peaches, evenly dot with the lemon zest, and sprinkle all over with the cinnamon.
        Set a strainer over a medium-size bowl, and sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
        In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer, cream the butter and the ¾ cup of sugar on medium speed until evenly sandy, about 1 minute. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon, and beat on medium speed until all the flour is incorporated, and the mixture is very crumbly, about 30 seconds more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
        With the mixer on low speed, pour in the milk. Increase the speed to medium, beating until the batter is well combined, about 1 minute. Scoop the batter by heaping Tablespoons all over the peaches. With an offset spatula or the back of a big spoon, carefully spread the batter evenly over the fruit as best you can. The peaches will peek through in places.
        Sprinkle the 3 Tablespoons of sugar over the batter, and drizzle the hot water evenly over the sugar, making sure it’s all dampened. Bake the cobbler until the top is golden brown, possibly cracked, and the fruit is bubbling, 65-75 minutes.
        Cool the cobbler for about 30 minutes. It will firm up as it cools. Serve warm. And if desired, top with whipped cream or ice cream. Will keep covered at room temp for 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Makes 6-8 servings.      YUM!
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