Cobbler Meets Cake in This Peachy, Mascarpone-y Beaut

August  2, 2018

When you write about food, you’re never in the right season. I’m regularly baking up fall pies in July, and scouring the markets in vain for rhubarb in January. Sometimes I’m pumpkin spiced out long before October begins.

There are no words to describe how much I love what I do, but the off-seasonality can really take a toll on me—like last year, when I’d made four Thanksgiving dinner spreads before it was time to help my own family with our table.

I feel an even worse kind of anguish when I have an idea just a minute too late, because there’s nothing worse than a brilliant Christmas cookie that you dream up just as everyone begins their New Year’s diets. Such was the case with the recipe I’m sharing today.

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Last year, over Labor Day weekend, I threw together a quick fruit cobbler to bid farewell to summer and all its bounty. It was supremely delicious, but the casserole dish wasn’t befitting of how grand the rest of our shindig was. I started planning a way to gussy up the humble cobbler, asking myself the question: How do I turn this into a showstopper, and still keep all the most delicious things about it? For once, the off-seasonality was in my favor, because I had until next summer to figure it out.

I tackled it one section at a time. By the time the leaves started turning, I’d decided it was meant to be a layer cake; there’s no better way I know to stop a dinner in its tracks than to bring out a towering beauty. I loved the idea of including a crumb topping, like you might have on top of a cobbler, inside my layer cake. Through the fall, I tweaked my streusel. I wanted it to be extra clumpy, so I fiddled with my ratio a million times until I got it right.

A million tries later, the perfect crumble. Photo by Julia Gartland

With the streusel behind me, I turned to the cake. All winter, whenever I had an extra afternoon or a surprisingly simple morning, I’d get to baking for this recipe. I wanted the cake to have a little bit of biscuit-ness, like the fluffier-topped cobblers I prefer, so I used a mixture of all-purpose flour and cornmeal, eventually calling in dark brown sugar and yogurt, which got it just right.

Brown sugar and yogurt take the cake. Photo by Julia Gartland
A half recipe can get you here. Photo by Julia Gartland

Come spring, I was ready for the frosting. I decided I wanted something that was as much like whipped cream as possible, since I personally like plenty of that on my cobbler. I’ve long loved beating mascarpone into whipped cream because it makes a beautifully smooth, thick filling that tastes so insanely luxurious. This was the easiest decision of the process. From there, it was a waiting game.

Finally, you're here! Photo by Julia Gartland

I had to wait for fresh peaches. I couldn’t even bear to do a base test using frozen peaches, because I knew it wouldn’t be the same. So I waited and waited…and waited some more. I watched rhubarb come, then strawberries, then—at long last—I saw the first peaches. I sliced them lovingly, macerated them with care, and then I made the cake again, this time with every piece of the cobbler-cake puzzle. I wanted to devour it, but I forced myself to eat it slowly and truly examine it. It took two slices to be certain, but I was pretty sure it was perfect.

It was worth the wait. Photo by Julia Gartland

Now, I finally get to share the recipe, and I’m so excited I could burst, not unlike a freshly bitten, too-ripe peach. This was one time I wasn’t bothered by the off-seasonality of my work. I was grateful, because when peach season came, it was ready. I put my impatience to the test and learned an important lesson in the process: It can often take a lot of time for something to arrive just in time. So here it is, my Peach Cobbler Cake. It’s a cake one year in the making, but the timing is perfect.

DIY Mascarpone

What are some summer recipes you wait all year for? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Ldaly58
  • Christopher King
    Christopher King
  • dottieinthekitchen
  • Jsne
I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, Savory Baking, came out in Fall of 2022 - is full of recipes to translate a love of baking into recipes for breakfast, dinner, and everything in between!


Ldaly58 September 5, 2019
I gave you honest input and you removed it? Shame on you
Christopher K. August 29, 2019
I made this recently to much success. I took the advice of others and decreased the cornmeal. I used 1.5 cups. I also increased the number of peaches to five which was plenty. I even had a few extra peaches in which I pureed into a sauce on the off chance the cake was dry. It was not.
dottieinthekitchen August 27, 2019
Erin, that cake is gorgeous! Lucky for us that you took the year to make it happen. One question: could I use Bob’s Red Mill Corn Flour for the fine cornmeal?
Jsne August 9, 2018
Looks similar to a Grandbaby cakes recipe