Peach Cobbler: what's it to you?

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Peach cobbler.

What do those words mean to you?

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From my strictly anecdotal research – gleaned from the assortment of treasured regional cookbooks behind my desk – I conclude that your mental image of peach cobbler will be quite different if you live in Boston compared to, say, Baton Rouge.

There are exceptions to every rule – even this one, which I’m making up on the spot. (And I’m sure you’ll let me know about those exceptions.)

But here’s my conclusion – cobbler

Up North, cobbler is fruit baked under a baking powder biscuit crust.

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Down South, that same fruit is covered with sweetened batter, yielding a very moist yellow cake heavily laden with fruit: bottom, middle, and top.

And in between those geographic bounds – and I mean everywhere in between, from Maryland to Montana – there are regional variations on the theme.

Some of you like a rolled-out biscuit crust topping your cobbler, much like a pie’s top crust. Some prefer sweet yellow cake batter; others, barely sweetened batter falling somewhere between cake and biscuit, taste-wise.

And me? I REALLY REALLY REALLY like a version sent to us long ago by Joanne Sawyer of Newburgh, Indiana. Not Northern; not Southern; neither biscuit nor cake. Instead, wonderfully tender, sweet peaches bubble away under a crust of…

Well, we’ll get to that in a bit. For now, let’s look at our Northern and Southern cobblers.

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From up North: Classic Peach Cobbler, vanilla-scented sliced peaches baked under a baking powder biscuit crust. Classic accompaniment: vanilla ice cream.

★★★★★ “Oh my good golly gosh, this cobbler is delicious. I used brown sugar for the filling and it turned out perfectly. Nothing is quite so satisfying as the juxtaposition between the sweet, soft, slippery peach slices and the flaky, creamy biscuits on top. Wonderful!” – Samantha Reckford – KAF Community

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From down South: Southern-Style Peach Cobbler. Start with batter in the bottom of the pan, and fruit on top. The layers switch places during baking, and the finished product resembles nothing so much as a moist, fruity cake on top of luscious fruit filling. Classic accompaniment: whipped cream.

★★★★★ Will this become a 5-star recipe? It’s just been published to our site, and no one’s reviewed it yet. We look forward to hearing what you think.

And now, for something completely different –

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Warm, tender peaches under a crust of… cubed bread?

Make that bread drizzled with buttery brown sugar syrup, the whole baked until crisp and crunchy on top, creamy-smooth and tender underneath…  Let’s let Joanne from Indiana, the source of this recipe, speak to her Just Too Easy Peach Cobbler

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“This tasty, quick-to-make-at-the-last-minute summer dessert uses bread! Peaches are the called-for fruit, but I’ve made it with nectarines and apples. Now if I could only send you the peaches from our local peach orchard! They’re available about July, and my mouth is already watering for them.”

★★★★★ “As the only male in our office, there was a little skepticism when I sat this down in the break room. The next thing I heard (from an experienced baker) was, ‘That was the best peach cobbler I have ever eaten. I don’t think I took a breath until it was gone!’ I printed a stack of recipe copies, and those disappeared just as quickly as the cobbler.” – dwulfman – KAF Community

So: North, South, East or West – yummy peach cobbler, who makes the best?

The answer might very well be Indiana…

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Brenda

    I grew up in the south and still live in the south and until recently, never had peach cobbler with anything other than a pie pastry bottom and top crust. What is it with these biscuits? Maybe the pie pastry is the Louisiana way.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      That’s very interesting. I grew up in the Midwest and have only ever known “cobbler” to be baked fruit with biscuits on top. That just goes to show you how many wonderful culinary traditions we have in this country! Happy Baking! Jocelyn@KAF

    2. Marla

      I agree with Brenda. I too am from the south and have lived my whole life in the south. To us Peach Cobbler is a deep dish pie pan (~5-6″ deep), pastry crust on the bottom, lots of peaches in the middle and pastry crust on top (usually lattice cut but not always)… I can almost taste it as I’m describing it. It is the epitome of summer dessert in my book. Yum!

    3. MaryJane Robbins

      Great description Marla. I’m not even a peach fan, but you’ve made this sound good to me! ~ MJ

  2. Vivian

    I grew up in California and the cobblers my mom made were kind of like a crustless pie with a crunchy or chewey streussel topping.

    Reply
    1. Jill

      Yes. I grew up in California too, and “cobbler” always had a streusel topping. (I think (?) those are called “crumbles” in other parts of the country . . . ?)

      Anyhow, there’s not much to complain about when one is eating seasonal fruit, thickened and sweetened and topped by sweetened carbs! ;-)

  3. Nora

    I’m from the South, and the recipe with the batter came about when I was a child. It was called a crazy-crust pie. It may have been a Pillsbury contest winner. I’ve never liked it. I love the kind that is juicy. The best ones have a layer of fruit, a layer of crust, another layer of fruit, and a final crust layer. The middle crust cooks up like dumplings. Serve it hot, and top it with vanilla ice cream. Preferably Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.

    Reply
  4. Kris Sanders

    I’m a northern Michigan girl who fell in love with an Alaskan blueberry cobbler recipe. Lost it years ago, but it is the batter one. Works with any fruit, especially Red Haven Peaches or Michigan tart cherries.
    If anyone has the recipe that calls for melted butter on the bottom, then the fruit, covered with the batter, and hot water poured on top and finally sprinkled with sugar, would you please post it?
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      We’ll keep our fingers crossed Kris. You may also want to cross post this on our Community site. ~ MJ

  5. Baker Gail

    Growing up in Oklahoma from the 1950s on, THE cobbler (any fruit) was one made with pie crust. Little strips of dough were put in the bottom, and they never baked hard like a pie crust, but were almost little dumplings. But the top crust was PIE crust. Plain and simple! That’s still my favorite. Baked in a 9 x 13 glass dish!

    I never knew any other crust until sometime in the 1970s perhaps when biscuit-like crusts were the newest thing. The bread ones came even later than that.

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins

      Isn’t it funny how even the type of dish used for baking can make a difference? At our house, chili can only be made in one particular pot, or it just isn’t right. Thanks for sharing Gail! ~ MJ

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      My blackberry bushes are covered in flowers this year, I have high hopes for lots of goodies! I’ll have to try the pie crust version myself. ~ MJ

  6. RonG

    Cobbler or pie, growing up in our house in Illinois meant they were both baked with a pie crust. A cobbler was baked with a solid bottom and middle crust with a lattice top crust. A pie had a solid bottom crust and the top had either no crust, or a solid pie crust, or a lattice top crust.
    Never did you see any OTHER type of crust OR topping used on either.
    And I’ve never had a bad peach anything ! … lol

    Reply
  7. Fannie

    I’m from Texas and cobbler to me means fruit with piecrust latticed across the top. One of my favorites to ever discover was a “pecan” cobbler served by a local B-B-Que place. Yummy.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      WOW, Fannie, that does sound absolutely wonderful!!! It’s going on my to-do list… thanks! PJH

  8. Donna

    From Georgia: my mama (and I, but not very often now) made peach cobbler by making a regular pie crust, cutting it into strips, very much like your Pie Fries, and baking it off. She cooked peeled and sliced peaches with sugar and a little flour as a thickener, and then layered the strips of crust in a casserole dish with the hot fruit, kind of like a lasagna. That was it, no further baking. Served still warm, sweet-tart peaches contrasted with the crisp savory crust. The next day the cold leftovers would be softer with the juices soaked into the crust. My dad called it peach pie–it had the same elements, just a different configuration.

    We would sometimes go out along fence rows and pick wild blackberries, and those made an incredible cobbler. I don’t live in the country anymore so I don’t have access to them. I have tried buying them at the grocery store but it was always disappointing. They have no flavor and are like $6 for a pint, when they *should* be free by the bucketful and taste amazing. Wonder if the frozen ones would be better.

    I recently made your Peachberry Buckle with fresh peaches and raspberries–it was great!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Donna, thank you SO much for sharing your memories here; I love how we’re able to use this space to carry forward our personal baking traditions. I’d read about the cobbler your mama made, while reading Texas cobbler recipes, but none ever mentioned baking the strips first – which makes so much sense. Raw pie dough inside sounded like it would just be gluey, but baked? As you say, crisp the first day, nicely soft the second. I’m filing this in my personal memory bank to try sometime. Did she put the baked strips on top, too?

      Glad you liked the buckle. Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to re-create the flavor of those just-picked berries from your childhood; wild berries are something special. Perhaps you can find them for sale at a farmers’ market sometime, though… would that we could go back in time and experience again some of the things that, at the time, we didn’t realize would become so precious. :) PJH

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