It has been a long, hot, sweaty summer. We’ve enjoyed the sunshine stretching out lazily into the evening, pink twilights spent drinking frosty beers on crowded restaurant patios, and eating farmers’ market seasonal produce like garnet red cherries and bright yellow squash blossoms. But, despite the summer fun and sun, we do admit to ogling boutique mannequins as they unblushingly strip out of flowy sundresses and slip into leather pants and boyfriend sweaters. It’s time to turn the page, but, not before we squeeze in one last recipe that hip-hip-hoorays the bounty of the warmest months.
Cobblers are the perfect dessert to highlight and celebrate fresh produce: quickly cooked and lightly flavored with little other than a bit of butter and sugar, the fruit, as it rightfully should, remains the main attraction. This version begins on the stovetop, where butter is cooked until nutty in aroma and color. Next, slices of marigold yellow-and-crimson peaches are sautéed briefly with a touch of sugar and a splash of smoky Bourbon just to get their juices flowing.
This is where you should pay special attention: we’ve had many cobblers that are topped with biscuits. A lovely concept in that biscuits are light and tender and will imbibe all the gooey runoff from the cobbler, but in practice, often a disappointment. The biscuit topping becomes mired in the fruit and the point of contact between the dough and the filling never cooks through properly, resulting in a soggy-bottomed—and often raw—mess.
To avoid this problem, the biscuit topping here is frugal and scattered in small pieces over the topping. These will bake along with the fruit in under 15 minutes, and the result will be properly cooked, crisp, textured mini-biscuits that contrast the supple peach filling. Oh, and, there’s fresh thyme in the topping that adds the subtle herbal scent of a late summer garden.
Gather ye peaches while you may — and, also, happy Labor Day weekend!
SWEET & SAVORY PEACH-THYME COBBLER
Serves 4 to 6
Fresh thyme leaves in the biscuit crumble topping of this cobbler add a savory hint to this classic summer dessert.
For the Thyme Biscuit Topping
¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus additional for garnish
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into slices and chilled
5 tablespoons buttermilk, chilled
For the Peaches
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
4 ripe but firm peaches, pitted and sliced into 8 wedges
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice1 tablespoon Bourbon (optional)
⅛ teaspoon salt
For the Thyme Biscuit Topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, lemon zest, thyme, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Add butter slices to flour mixture and toss to coat. Working quickly, press slices of butter between thumb and forefinger, tossing in between presses, until butter is evenly distributed.
With a rubber spatula, stir in buttermilk, working dough just until combined. Quickly gather dough into ball and refrigerate while you make the peach base.
For the Peaches: Melt butter in 10-inch shallow skillet over medium heat until it begins to foam and brown flecks begin to be visible, 3 to 4 minutes. Add peaches, brown sugar, lemon juice, optional Bourbon, and salt, and cook, stirring gently and occasionally, until peaches begin to soften and release juices, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Pinch off ¼-inch pieces of biscuit dough and scatter over peaches. Bake cobbler until biscuit topping is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer skillet to cooling rack and allow to cool 5 minutes prior. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and serve.