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A Peach Cobbler That's Maybe Cake and Definitely Bakes in a Pool of Butter

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Many families’ heirloom recipes start on handwritten recipe cards. Most of mine come from foodnetwork.com.

Trisha Yearwood and her sister made a cobbler on the family fish fry episode of Trisha’s Southern Kitchen. Nodding to their Georgia roots, it's a peach cobbler. The peaches come from a can. I wouldn’t have kept watching, but my mom did.

Peach Cobbler-Cake
Peach Cobbler-Cake

Amidst the personalities chit-chatting about how they like to stay inside and bake—because a horseshoe might get hurled at them out by the grill—and about serving “man-sized scoops” of cobbler, a thin, golden, peach-jeweled cake appears. It doesn’t look like cobbler that I know, but it is “quick and easy,” they say, more than once.

My mom managed to see through the shit-shooting, and she made this dessert part of our summer dessert rotation—with fresh peaches. Whereas schlumpf is 50/50 fruit to topping, buckle 25/75, and pandowdy 75/25, this Southern style of cobbler is 75% caramelly fruit cake and 25% best end-pieces ever.

Blueberry Schlumpf

Blueberry Schlumpf by Marian Bull

Blackberry Cornbread Buckle

Blackberry Cornbread Buckle by janeofmanytrade

An entire stick of butter melts in a pan in a preheating oven while sugar-sprinkled peaches effuse their juices in a separate bowl. Then, that peach syrup is strained and used to sweeten a pancake-like batter, which is finally poured over the butter pooling in the hot pan. The reserved, slightly slouched peaches get placed with precision or abandon atop. As the cobbler bakes for an hour, the batter poufs around the peaches, but the butter to batter ratio is such that all that could become “moist cake” instead browns into a crisp caramel chew.

For optimum caramelliness, I use brown sugar instead of white and have been known to leave the butter in the oven long after it's melted—it’s this nutty sweetness that makes this cobbler (cake? cobbler-cake?) about more than rescuing fruit from beneath a mountain range of topping.

Every time I’ve made it, plates and forks were traded for fingers ripping from the pan. One time, it didn’t make it to dinner—instead eaten on the car ride there.

Whipped cream, vanilla ice cream: They’re clearly incidental.

Peach Cobbler-Cake

Peach Cobbler-Cake

Ali Slagle Ali Slagle
Serves 8
  • 4 peaches, peeled, sliced, and sprinkled with sugar in a bowl
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup self-rising flour (or 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and a pinch of salt)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark, whatever you've got)—you'll want to use less if your peaches are really sweet
  • 1 cup milk
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Tags: Peach, Summer, Bake