It was a busy week at the bakery.
By the time I made it to the end of my work week, I was exhausted…but not too exhausted to make concord-orange zest jam with the grapes I harvested with my dearest, oldest friend over the course of the week. At her recommendation, I followed Rachel Saunders’ recipe from her book dedicated to preserves, titled “Blue Chair.” It’s quickly risen to the top of my wishlist of cookbooks to own someday.
Since I am newly obsessed with serrano peppers thanks to this phenomenal recipe, I partitioned off a smaller pot to experiment with, and added a few thin slices of the green pepper, and its seeds. The results were pretty amazing: sweet, complex jam, with a hint of peppery spice right at the finish. Worth going back for more grapes, and going through the painstaking labor of stemming 4 lbs and squeezing each grape from its skin.
But by the time Sunday rolled around, I was ready to cook some more…one day of rest after a week of 10+ hour workdays is enough right? (Right??) I rose from bed, donned my enormous sweater, cute pants, and shoes NOT caked in flour and syrup, and went to the farmer’s market.
For around $30, I got a large bag full of Italian Empress plums, six relatively local peaches, and a whole chicken from this awesome farm. Plum preserve is next on the list, followed by Alison Roman’s chicken and dumplings.
But these peaches! Lord! Is there anything like that scent? A scent which screams to be paired with vanilla, almond, whiskey, cream…and berries! (Wild blackberries are my favorite pairing with peach, but they’re few and far between this late in the season–they’ve had an odd year.)
I got into the kitchen and started scheming. I’ve already made a peach cake this year using peach puree in the batter (with blackberry quick jam in between layers with marscapone buttercream frosting), and several peach galette. But y’know what I haven’t had in a millennia? A good, old-fashioned cobbler.
Of course I had to go to Smitten Kitchen for this one when I saw the cornmeal biscuits on top. I followed her simple recipe almost exactly, only added a little less brown sugar than hers, and my cobbler was mostly peaches with just a HINT of blueberries. And dang, was I pleased with the results.
Aside from being utterly delicious, this recipe is dead simple, and there’s a wonderful interplay of textures between the cooked fruit and biscuits. I made my biscuits with a coarser grind of cornmeal for added texture. At first I thought, “Oh boy, I’ve gone too far with this one!” because my biscuits came out of the oven damned GRITTY. But as the cobbler sat in my fridge over the next 8 hours (yes, I had cobbler for lunch–don’t judge me!) the cornmeal did what cornmeal does best–absorbed that beautiful, beautiful liquid.
Now I’m from the rain and never ate a single biscuit, to my knowledge, before the age of 25 when I started working as a barista for a roaster in Portland and was around morning pastries every day (I’m looking at you, bacon cheddar biscuit). So to say these fluffy creations aren’t exactly in my intuition base would be an understatement. They seem deceptively simple, but if you’ve ever had a lifeless, or tacky, or painfully chewy biscuit, you begin to understand there is more than meets the eye, here. Cornmeal seems an unlikely addition at first, but the two have a relationship I’m eager to continue to explore.
I didn’t have regular milk for the buttermilk so I used almond, but the acid from the lemon I used to make it did what acid does with baking powder: caused floof to happen. (Yay, floof!) I spooned these pillowy-yet-hearty beauties over my fruit with mounting anticipation. Thank goodness this whole thing only takes about 30 minutes to make.
Because I’m freaky like that, I brushed the exposed fruit with warm salted honey/apricot jam glaze, just for a little extra zhush. I’m telling you, I could not stop eating this cobbler.
Go get you some peaches (if you haven’t already!) and make yourself dessert. Don’t neglect the cornmeal! Take pride in your gritty biscuit!! It’s a welcome counterpart to cooked peach, believe me.
Peach-Blueberry Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuit Topping
Adapted from smittenkitchen.com
1 ½ lbs (about 4 cups) pounds peaches, pitted and cut into chunks of various sizes
1 pint (about 2 cups) blueberries, rinsed and dried
1/3 cup-2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar (to taste)
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (3 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal (choose your own adventure with grit! 😉
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk, or about 2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar in any kind of milk, adding up to ½ cup
Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss peaches and blueberries in sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt in a 2-quart casserole dish.
Mix together the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into the dry mixture with a pastry blender or your fingers, then incorporate buttermilk with a rubber spatula until a wet, tacky dough forms.
Dollop heaping spoonfuls of the biscuit dough over the coated fruit, leaving gaps in between spoonfuls. Bake until the fruit is tender and the biscuit tops are browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. If you are so inclined, heat up 2 Tbs of honey or light-colored jam with a pinch of salt and brush the tops of the exposed fruit. Enjoy with your favorite creamy sidekick (ice cream, yogurt, crème fraiche, honeyed whipped cream…etc)!