Okay, so you're probably thinking, "Ugh . . . yet another seasonal cobbler recipe. How original."
Am I right?
That's fine, I'm not offended. I've been around the baking-blog block a few times and I know the score. That said, however, I simply must impress upon you that there are peach cobbler recipes, and then there peach cobbler recipes.
What do I mean? Well, let me ask you this: What do you get when you combine juicy ripe peaches, a buttery dough enhanced with a smidgen of candied ginger, and bubbly Prosecco, in a filling that's been augmented with a bit of citrus zest, fresh grated nutmeg, and honey? I'll tell you what you don't get. You don't get your grandma's dense, sugary, soggy-biscuit laden cobbler.
It really is, as they say, all in the flavor. Sparkling peach cobbler boasts flavors that are complex and a little daring. They defy expectation, but do so delightfully. The cobbler has a bit of a bite, which is an element of surprise. I didn't necessarily expect my family to fully appreciate and enjoy such a nontraditional twist on a beloved and old fashioned dessert, but--lo and behold--they all did. This cobbler doesn't just defy taste expectations, it exceeds them.
Thank heaven that nice cold bottle of Prosecco in the fridge, procured a few weeks ago expressly for this recipe, was finally put to proper use. But, besides using the Prosecco, this cobbler served another purpose for me as well. Because my oven died immediately after I was finished producing the layers for the "Where the Wild Things Are" cake (and after 16 years of heavy use!) in my last post, I had to procure a new one and fast.
Happily, a glistening, stainless-steel, gas range was installed in our kitchen a few days ago, so the cobbler functioned as a suitable test case. That shiny piece of machinery took the cobbler on its maiden voyage into Fahrenheit Land and returned it to shore all golden brown and twinkling--a safe and successful voyage, one might say. There it is, pictured below. (Hear my sigh of baking contentment . . . ?)
About this recipe . . .
I adapted this from a recipe for nectarine cobbler found in Sherry Yard's magnificent book, Desserts by the Yard. I adjusted the formula slightly by using Prosecco as an alternative to the pricier Champagne; by including a wee bit of chopped candied ginger in the pastry (Sherry advises leaving it out for this cobbler, but I thought it was a great touch used in moderation); by omitting the orange zest from the filling (I don't typically buy oranges this time of year, so I just used lemon zest); and by using about thirty percent more fruit than called for--mostly peaches instead of nectarines.
1 and 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour, plus 6 Tbsp. for dusting
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2'' chunks and frozen for 15 minutes
1 egg, large
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. crystallized (candied) ginger, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten with 1 yolk, for the egg wash
In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the 1 and 1/2 cups flour, the sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Using the paddle attachment, add in the frozen butter chunks and mix for 1 to 2 minutes on low speed, until the butter is broken into large lumps that you can see. Stop the mixer. With your thumb and index finger, flatten any round lumps.
Beat again for 30 seconds. (The butter pieces should look like "flattened walnut pieces," per Sherry Yard's advice.)
In another bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and the egg.
Pour this into the dry ingredients, along with the chopped candied ginger. Turn the mixer on for several more seconds, just to combine.
Place a generous sheet of parchment paper on your work surface and dust it with a couple tablespoons of flour. Plop the dough onto it.
The dough should be tacky and crumbly when you dump it from the bowl (mine was much more sticky than tacky, so I was liberal with the flour once I got it onto the work surface). Now you'll begin a very simple version of the "3-fold" process. Don't panic.
To form the dough into a square that's 1" thick all over, use the edges of the parchment, bringing them up and over to press the dough into this shape.Peel the parchment back.
Dust the top of the dough with another tablespoon of flour, and flip it over. Gently press it into an even rectangle that's 6" x 8". It should be 1" thick all over.
Using the side of your hand, positioned parallel to the bottom edge of dough, make a crease through the middle. Just make an impression--you don't need to push down too much.
Using the paper to lift the dough, fold it over right at the crease. Peel back the paper again, and dust the top with 1 tablespoon of flour.
Press the dough out again, just like before, and turn it in front of you 90 degrees. Make a crease again, just like before, and fold and turn the dough again. Lightly dust the top with 1 tablespoon of flour. Crease, fold, and turn one final time.
At this point, the dough will be a relatively uniform block. Dust it with 1 more tablespoon of flour, and roll it out gently (with a rolling pin) into a rectangle that's 6" x 8" and that's 1" thick all over.
Wrap the dough in plastic and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes (At this point, I slid my dough, still on the parchment, onto the back of a little sheet pan, then covered it with plastic, and sort of folded the extra parchment up over it; I didn't want to have to overhandle it at this point. I slid the pan with the dough on it into the freezer.)
While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.
For the filling:
1/4 cup All-Purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar, or more depending upon the tartness of your fruit
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1 and 1/2 cups Prosecco (Note: if you prefer your cobbler with less liquid overall, I suggest you reduce this amount by one third; my cobbler had quite a lot of liquid.)
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey (take into account how much sugar you've used and how sweet your fruit is; adjust accordingly in deciding how much honey to use) 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice 8 large ripe peaches (or nectarines, or a combo), pitted, unpeeled (yes, unpeeled--unless you hate the peel), and sliced into eighths 1 egg, beaten with 1 egg yolk, to use for the egg wash About 1/4 cup granulated sugar to use for dusting
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Prepare one large baking dish (12" x 12", or 9" x 13") or two smaller dishes (I used one 8" x 8" glass dish and one ceramic quiche dish). Butter the baking dish and dust it with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
Combine by hand, in a large bowl, the flour, sugar, nutmeg, and lemon zest.
Whisk in the Prosecco. Heat the honey just until warm and easily pourable; stir it into the mixture.
Stir in the lemon juice. Add in all of the peaches and toss everything together until the fruit is well coated. Scrape all of this into your prepared pan(s).
Take the dough from the freezer and, using a very sharp knife, cut it into diamond shapes.
Arrange the diamond pieces over the filling. Brush the dough with egg wash, then sprinkle generously with sugar.
Immediately put the pan(s) in the preheated oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the dough is a nice golden brown. (Expect juicy dripping during baking and use foil or a baking sheet beneath the dishes to prevent a mess in your oven; I did this when it was almost too late!)
This stuff's utterly delicious on its own, but also heavenly with a little unsweetened whipped cream on top.
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Jane's Sweets & Baking Journalwas born of my ever increasing desire to learn more about the baking and pastry arts, and of my love for anything and everything related to baking. Just as food is meant to be shared, so is knowledge among bakers and among those who enjoy delicious foods prepared from scratch. So, please partake, and feel free to share your thoughts and comments. I'd love to hear from you.
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Visit the PBS site to reminisce about 2013's best food trends. They've assembled an entertaining look at what we foodies focused on--what we ate, cooked, read, watched, and blogged about--throughout the year. Click here!
Interesting article in the Los Angeles Timeson the resurgence in demand for the skills of professional pastry chefs. (It seems we still need them after all . . .but you and I have always known that, haven't we?)
The IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) announced winners of its 2013 IACP Food Writing Awards. Have a look at the list. (No surprise that the gorgeous Bouchon Bakery cookbook won for photography and styling; took about a dream of a book! It's gorgeous.)
Food journalist and cookbook reviewer T. Susan Chang, writing for Publisher's Weekly, shared her thoughts in the article "10 Things Every Cookbook Publisher Should Know." Chang clarifies, in a nutshell, what differentiates a great cookbook from an awful dud. I found myself nodding in agreement with every point she made.
An interesting variation on cherries jubilee . . .
. . . made with Grand Marnier, sweet black cherries, pomegranate juice, and homemade vanilla ice cream.
Dutch apple cake . . .
. . . it's divine!
What We Talk About . . .
. . . When We Talk About Banana Cake!
JANE'S FAVORITE BAKING BOOKS
About Professional Baking: The Essentials, by Gail Sokol. This is a textbook, but not one that's intimidating. It contains lots of useful info, including interesting personal profiles of professional chefs.
All-American Cookie Book, by Nancy Baggett. Another winner of the IACP award. Loads of good looking cookie recipes with lots of very appetizing photos. (Don't you love cookbooks with tons of pictures? I do.)
All-American Dessert Book, by Nancy Baggett. Wonderfully detailed, with very reliable recipes, Baggett does it again in this valuable cookbook. Definitely worth your time!
Art & Soul of Baking, by Cindy Mushet. This large Gourmet Cook Book Club Selection is a feast for the eyes. I love the page layout, the photos, and the author's reassuring tone. Recipes range from the quotidian ("classic sugar cookies") to the ridiculous ("Moroccan-spiced sweet-potato tiropetes") to the absolute sublime ("duo-tone chocolate pots de creme"). Worth acquiring.
Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft, by the Culinary Institute of America. This is a heavy duty textbook, not for the faint of heart. Intimidating, sure, but also kind of fascinating if you're an obsessive bake-a-holic like me.
Baking with Julia, written by Dorie Greenspan and based on the PBS series hosted by Julia Child. Yet another hefty and dazzling coffee-table-worthy cookbook. Wonderful to have around. (My copy was autographed by Julia herself!)
Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook, published in 1950 and available in a facsimile edition, holds a special place in my heart. This is the book my mom primarily used, or so it seemed, when I was a kid. The photos are such period pieces, and the little notations that accompany recipes are pricelessly cute and corny. I have an ancient copy that I still use. Every girl needs a copy of this in her house, for good karma if nothing else.
Bitter Sweet -- Recipes and Tales From a Life in Chocolate, by Alice Medrich. Much more than just a cookbook with a focus on fine dark chocolate, this is also a memoir of sorts from a legendary chocolate-dessert creator. Medrich is often credited with awakening American tastes to the finest aspects of superior chocolate. Very interesting read!
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes,by Jeffrey Hamelman. An indispensable book for anyone who is seriously interested in learning to make fine yeast breads, Hamelman shares far more than just technical knowledge. Like fellow bread guru Peter Reinhart, his warmth of spirit and deep love for the tradition of bread baking shines through on every page.
Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham. Not to be confused with the character of the mom on Happy Days, the real Marion Cunningham has a long list of writing accomplishments, the most well known being that she completely revised The Fannie Farmer Cookbook. A contemporary of the late James Beard's, she is still held in high esteem.
Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. Rose is really into the science of baking, which can be helpful in some respects and off-putting in others. Like gardeners who talk mostly about soil components without conveying their joy in the plants themselves. Maybe I'm too sensitive? Probably so, as many consider this to be an invaluable classic. Despite my reservations, I wouldn't part with my copy. One of several highly detailed books by Rose. Her latest book, Heavenly Cakes, is much more down to earth, loaded with photos, and truly beautiful.
Cake Book, by Tish Boyle. I've called it a treasure trove before and please allow me to say it again here. This book is jam packed with wonderful stuff that's well explained. I used the Sacher-torte recipe in the fall of '09 for a culinary school project and it didn't let me down. I can endorse this book without reservation. I love it.
Complete Book of Pastry Sweet & Savory, by Bernard Clayton, Jr. When this book appeared in 1981, famed food editor Craig Claiborne praised it in the NYT as "one of the most important cookbooks of this year, if not of this decade." No photos, but don't let that dissuade you.
Craft of Baking, by Karen DeMasco & Mindy Fox. In 2009, some great new cookbooks were published and this was one of them. Down to earth, straightforward without being condescending, this smart guide offers creative and simple twists on dozens of diverse and well-proven "cakes, cookies, and other sweets."
Dessert University, by Roland Mesnier. As the White House executive pastry chef for over two decades, Mesnier has a lot of wisdom to impart. He does so well in this book, which is designed specifically for home bakers. A good book!
Grand Central Baking Book, by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson. Readers are welcomed into these pages with a tone of warmth and familiarity. The photos alone will have you scribbling a grocery list. Try the berry kuchen recipe--simple and scrumptious.
Hershey's Chocolate Treasury, published in 1984 by Hershey Foods and chock full of old reliables. The recipe for Black Magic cake is one I've used again and again--invaluable!
How to Bake, by Nick Malgieri. The writing style is matter of fact and fairly informal. That's one of my favorite things about Malgieri's books.
Magical Art of Cake Decorating, by Carole Collier. Sometimes at a used book sale you find an old gem like this. Published in '84, I found it very encouraging when I first began decorating cakes. The recipes are rock solid reliable.
Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, by Maida Heatter. Famed baker (apparently her "Palm Beach Brownies" are known far and wide), whose work has centered on wondrous chocolate desserts, Heatter received a James Beard award for this book, one of many she's published over several active decades.
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, by Martha Stewart. Beautiful photos, but I must admit I've come to have reservations about the reliability of some of the recipes. Is it just me? Though I love flipping through the book for ideas, I'm a bit on the fence with this one when it comes to actual usage.
Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes by Martha Stewart. Talk about a stunning and inspiring book! Chances are you may never decide to actually make one of the cakes from this glorious volume, but it's enough just to page through the gorgeous pictures and interesting recipes. Expensive? For sure, but worth it.
Passion for Baking, A by Marcy Goldman. If you're curious about how professional bakers manage to make things come out nicely every time, you'll appreciate this book. Goldman, in her highly approachable style, divulges many of their simple--but enormously helpful--tricks and techniques, and shows readers how to implement them throughout the wondrous array of down-to-earth recipes that pack this great book. Loads of enticing photos, too! I love this book!
Perfect Cakes, by Nick Malgieri. Can't say enough about Malgieri's books. Absolutely worth using, versus just reading! The white and dark chocolate cheesecake is to die for; I've made it a few times, along with many other recipes from this book, and it is superb.
Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Everyday, by Peter Reinhart. This book is a revelation for anyone who approaches yeast recipes like a vampire approaches the dawn. Talk about down to earth, encouraging, and flexible! This guy knows how to talk to rookie breadmakers. Well worth reading, and using, this volume will find a comfy place in your cookbook collection--a worthwhile purchase, undoubtedly!
Professional Cake Decorating, by Toba Garrett. I get the impression that this book is perceived as the most thorough and comprehensive text available for serious students of cake decorating. This is the text that we used for my culinary school Beginning Cake Decorarting class (which means I finally own my own copy!).
Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours, by Sarabeth Levine. Almost too pretty to use, but use it anyway! This big book is so appealing, and the photos so remarkably enticing, you'll want to pick it up like a sandwich and bite right into it. Fine recipes for updated classics, well explained, from the famous Manhattan bakery. Worth buying. (You'll love it!)
Secrets of Baking, by Sherry Yard. A must have, bakers! This cookbook's forte is the way it's organized; master recipes are presented with full explanations of how they can be used, and related recipes follow, section by section. An exceptional manual to refer to. Get your own copy!
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. Huntsman is the professional pastry chef behind this beautiful book, filled with many tempting recipes, all designed specifically and scaled perfectly for three layers. I've made the Devil's food cake thus far, and it was exceptional--it rose well, was very moist, and had great depth of flavor. I'll be using this book more in the future, without a doubt. Love the photos also!
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I'm a mom with two great sons (both now in college), and a really nice husband. I left a long editorial career in reference publishing a few years ago and I've had nary a regret. I recently finished (after four part-time years!) a Baking & Pastry Arts Certificate program in the Culinary Studies Institute at a local community college. It was a lot of fun, a lot of work, and I am so glad I did it. These days, I do a lot of freelance editorial work, something that I really enjoy.
"Jane's Sweets" was the name of a very small baking enterprise that I started in late 2007. It bloomed a bit, for a little while, with encouragement from my husband, my aunt, and my first cake decorating teacher, Cindy. Because my Aunt Lydia was my most ardent female supporter in this baking endeavor (she was a lifelong independent business owner herself), this blog is dedicated to her memory. If heaven is real, then I know she's there with my mom, baking up a storm. Like Lydia said one day, just before her 80th birthday, while she and my mom and I were baking in my mom's kitchen, "It's been a fun ride. I'd do it all over again!"
If my house were on fire, I'd grab my family, then I'd grab my KitchenAid mixer.
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