I remember seeing a young mother at a farmer’s market a few years ago talking to her baby in a stroller about the fruits of summer as she plopped a chunk of ripe apricot in the baby’s mouth. The baby was too young to understand her mother’s chatter, but her joy in sharing the wonderful, ripe juiciness of summer stone fruits is an experience we can all cherish. Nothing says summer like fresh ripe nectarines and peaches, plums, berries and cherries.
At the B Street House, I like to serve a fresh-fruit compote for our morning fruit course with an orange-honey yogurt dressing for that special touch. I mix and match whatever fresh fruit is available from the store, but always try to throw in a green kiwi and a few ripe strawberries for color.
I’m keeping my eye on the peach tree in the back yard. Last year our crop provided enough “cooking” peaches for coffee cake, cobbler and even a batch of jam. This year looks good, too, with what proves to be a very reliable crop from the cold-hardy “Reliance” peach tree. Keep this recipe in mind for the peaches on your trees, which should be ripening soon.
Today’s recipe is a classic peach cobbler, kicked up a notch with a pecan-cinnamon scone topping instead of the usual biscuit. Victorian-era cooks created interesting names for their summer fruit creations such as slumps, grunts and crisps, all of which start with a basic deep-dish fruit pie and a topping. Cobblers have biscuit toppings that resemble cobblestones; crisps are topped with a crunchy oatmeal based topping, and grunts were named for the sounds of bubbling fruit cooking on the stove. Using a scone topping gives a flaky, rich cobble topping that can easily be cut with a spoon. The pinwheel filling adds a nutty layer of flavor.
Peach and pecan flavors meld into the perfect example of American cuisine. To me, the Southern pecan with fresh peaches and a hint of lemon peel makes this cobbler a stand-out in flavor as well as looks.
Peach Cobbler with Cinnamon Pecan Scone topping
1 cup flour
1/8 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1/3 cup sour cream
1 large egg slightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch, mixed in 2/3 cup water
6 cups peeled, sliced fresh ripe peaches (about 6 large peaches)
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 cup packed brown sugar
For the cobbler topping, mix the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, soda and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter. Mix together the egg and buttermilk and add to the flour/butter mixture and mix well. Put this dough mixture on a floured cutting board and knead dough together for a few turns, then roll out into a square about a half-inch thick. Spread the dough with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Mix together in a small bowl the chopped pecans, quarter-cup packed brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Spread this pecan mixture over the top of the melted butter on the scone dough. Roll up the dough jelly-roll fashion and cut into six pinwheel circles. Set aside while making peach filling.
To make filling: Place sliced peaches, 1 cup brown sugar and the cornstarch mixed into 2/3 cup water in a large saucepan on the stove. Cook on medium heat until the fruit bubbles, and stir and cook for a minute or two, until the juice starts to thicken. Stir in grated lemon peel. Pour the hot peach filling into a 2-quart baking dish and top with the scone pinwheels. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the scone cobbles are baked through and golden-brown. Serves six. For high elevation, bake 20 minutes and check. Lower elevations take a little more baking time. No other adjustments are needed.
Try this recipe with any other summer fruit you have available. Use a microplane zester to get a very fine lemon peel. Cobblers frequently take a blob of fresh whipped cream for dessert, or warm cobbler over vanilla bean ice cream is always an option. Have I talked you into trying this recipe?
Carolyn Eichin owns B Street House Bed and Breakfast in Virginia City.