Bringing Europe Home

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(Practically No Sugar) Peach and Blueberry Cobbler

What It Is

Cobbler is a juicy, deep dish dessert of cooked fruit with a biscuit type topping.  It is thought of as the quintessential dessert of the American Deep South, and many Southerners will lay claim to its origins.  You can’t blame them, really—who wouldn’t want to claim such a luscious dish?  Turns out, a lot of people can take credit.

I sleuthed around and learned that this dish probably originated with the early British settlers in America.  According to some cobbler historians, the early Brits couldn’t find the suet they needed to make their favorite familiar foods, such as steamed puddings.  I didn’t know what suet was, nor was I aware that there was a glaring lack of it in this country, so I looked into that, as well.  Suet, I found out, is the fat of raw beef or mutton, and I can only tell you that I am grateful I do not need that ingredient to make my dessert.  So, the industrious housewives of the day (and I think that we can safely assume that it was the women folk who were mothering this invention) “cobbled together” recipes using butter, sugar, flour, cream, or whatever else they could round up.  Other food historians believe that cobblers were invented by the Westward bound settlers–the chuck-wagon cooks and pioneering women, as it were–who adapted their European culinary traditions to Dutch ovens and open flames.  It is likely that the first cobblers used savory, meat fillings.  I imagine that eventually some settler with an abundance of fruit on her hands dumped that into the Dutch oven instead of meat, and the result was an instant sensation.  The dish was called “cobbler,” possibly because the topping resembled cobblestone streets, or small, round English “cob” bread, or because of the way the ingredients were put together.

Once the settlers figured out that they could feed their families without suet, they went crazy–creating grunts, slumps, crisps, buckles, and even Brown Betties.  These dishes are all variations on the cobbler theme and are distinguished by the particular nature of their crusts, how they are mixed, and how they are cooked.  I won’t go into the nuances of all of these fruity wonders, but if you visit this site again, you might find a gluten-free peach crisp or a peach/berry “magic cobbler” (almost a “buckle”) in a later post.

So y’all come back now, ya hear?

Bring It Home

When I bring cobbler to my home, I need to bring something large and low sugar to the table.  I developed this recipe to feed my own family of six, plus whoever else might be joining us, with enough left over for breakfast (and why not?).  Personally, I would rather cut down on sugar than use a sugar substitute, and this entire dish, which serves 15- 20 depending upon the portion, uses only five tablespoons of sugar.  No one has ever complained that it is not sweet enough—in fact, I think that the natural sweetness of the fruit comes through more clearly when not much granulated sugar is used. I am actually posting this in response to a special request from sweet Becky, over at Clover and Thyme (hope you enjoy it, Becky!).

So pull out your peaches, people, crank up the oven, and have a go at this European/Western American Dessert from the Deep South:

Peach Berry Cobbler

Preheat oven to 375

Use a large, deep baking dish:  13x9x3

Filling:

  • 4 lbs. firm, ripe peaches (10-12)
  • 3 cups blueberries*
  • 1 ½ TBSP sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest*
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice*

*When our wild blackberries are in season, I use 2 cups blueberries and 1 cup freshly picked blackberries

**This is about the amount of zest and juice of one small lemon

Topping:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 TBSP baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 6 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1 ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 ½ TBSP raw sugar to sprinkle over the top

Put the peaches in a large pot of boiling water and let them boil for about a minute.  Remove them and place them immediately into a large bowl of ice water.  Let them bathe until cool enough to handle, then pull off the skins and cut the fruit into thick slices.  Put the sliced peaches into a large bowl.  Rinse the berries, pat them dry, and add them to the peaches.  Add the flour, sugar, and lemon zest and juice, and stir gently.

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.  Cut the butter into pieces and drop the pieces into the flour mixture.  “Cut” the butter into the flour mixture using two knives, a pastry cutter, or your fingertips, until it looks like coarse meal.  Stir in the cream, (I use a wooden spoon).  The batter will be very stiff.

Transfer the fruit into your large baking dish.

Drop the batter over the fruit, using a tablespoon, until covers the entire surface.  Sprinkle the raw sugar over the top.  Bake for about 50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and cooked through, and the fruit filling is bubbly.

Have you ever walked on a street that looked like this?

A final word:  According to Wikipedia, “Deep South tradition gives the option of topping the fruit cobbler with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream.”  This is where Wikipedia is wrong….

…vanilla ice cream is not optional.

33 Comments

  1. Beautiful peach cobbler! It looks very tasty :)

  2. petit4chocolatier

    This dish looks delicious! I am going to attempt it soon. Thank you! ~ judy

  3. Oh Robin Jean Marie, this looks AMAZING!! Thank you so much for posting this…I can’t wait to try it!!

    • Thanks, Becky! I hope you like it–please do report back on how it turns out and what you think of it. :-)

  4. That looks wonderful! The blueberries are ready here, so I may have to make this one this week! And I agree, ice cream is never optional :)!

    • It’s a crowd pleaser, Strawberry. Hope you like it–please let me know how it turns out! :-)

  5. I have a load of peaches form the Farmers Market today…..so cobbler it will be tomorrow….with ice cream of course

  6. This looks heavenly and should be a summertime tradition for everyone. I’m heading to whole foods for a some berries and peaches!

    • It sure is our summertime tradition! Hope you’re pleased with the results, Elisa.

  7. The Cosy Creative

    Gosh this looks sooo tasty and very cosy. Tempted to make this now, it’s cold and rainy here so a nice hearty pudding like this would go down a treat ;)

  8. Muaah! I just entered dangerous territory when I spotted that crumblelicious goodness sitting at the top of your post! Mmmm…Wikipedia sure is wrong! :D Happy mid-summer from a rainy Finland, Sharon

    • Ah, but this one is good for you! Low sugar and lots of fruit…we eat it with no guilt. ;-)
      Thanks, Sharon. Hope you can catch up on your reading on this rainy mid-summer day. :-)

      • I know my boys will love it and love that it’s low sugar. Take care, can’t wait to see what yummies you cook up next time! Hugs xx

        • Thank you Sharon. I think I’ll be stuck on a cobbler for a while–hope you don’t mind. ;-)

          • Cobblers are perfect especially now in the summer with all the fresh berries we are having! Can’t wait to see what else you have for us – my boys will be very happy! :D

  9. I like your parting comment! Apple cobbler was one of the first puddings I remember making at school in Home Economics, but there was no cream involved, as I recall. The topping was more like scones, but I like the look of this and will need to try it as hot fruit puddings are something I can eat all year round. There is a thing now called veggie suet, which I use occasionally, and which is better for you than the original suet. The beef suet is still used in the UK, although I’m sure not as much as it was 50 years ago. I like your combination of blueberries and peaches with lemon, that sounds completely satisfying and delicious and your photographs make my mouth water!

    • Thanks, Lorna! I did hear that the English version uses scones (which are very simialr to buscuits, I think, but a bit heavier). Cobbler can be eaten hot, cold, or room temperature–we eat this all day long!

  10. Robin this looks delicious! I always make the Ina Garten version but would love to try yours with less sugar! And I love the history you wrote to go along with it! Now I finally know what suet is, and that I never want to eat it! ;)

    • Thank you, Kerry. I’ve made the Ina Garten crumble (now that I know my nuances, I can toss those words around), and it’s delicious, too. I’ve learned that I can cut back the sugar in almost any recipe, and it’s still fine!
      Yes, I would stay away from suet, myself. ;-)

  11. A great recipe and post, with lots of interesting info on desserts…. I’m intrigued as to what a “buckle” is, and a “slump”? This peach cobbler looks srummy! I think the English cobbler of today is slightly different, but things evolve when they travel the oceans!
    Thanks Robin! :D

  12. I like sweets that are not very sweet and especially like those made with fruit and no sugar, so your recipe is on my list to do. I read a lot about history of food and novels set around kitchens. Your history of a cobbler is very appreciated.

  13. This looks so yummy! My favorite fruits peaches and blueberries. Thanks for sharing. :)

  14. My family came from Carolina around 1794 to Canada. They always made this and crisps and I continue to bake it. I also use less sugar and of course ice-cream. I have never used the blueberry and peach together…I will definitely try this.

    • Blueberries and peaches are a natural combo–I think you’ll love having them together!

  15. Yum.

  16. I’m glad you emphasized the part about the ice cream not being optional. :D

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  1. Peach Cobbler – A Southern Tradition | Lil' Suburban Homestead

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