When beloved Seattle chef Renee Erickson took over Boat Street Café from Susan Kaplan in 2003, she inherited this quirky peach cobbler recipe along with it. The café closed in 2015, but its spirit lives on through a half dozen other sunny Erickson restaurants, and in recipes like this one. The peaches aren’t peeled or even thickened with flour or starch, because the fruit is the point—juicy and textured however it may be. It’s brightened with lemon juice and zest and nothing else, a counterweight to the sweet batter and sugary top.
Only after smoothing on a layer of batter and dusting the top with sugar do you encounter the uncomfortable step of sloshing hot water over the top of your lovely cobbler. You won’t want to do
it, but if you poke around on enough blogs or in community cookbooks, you’ll find similar recipes— though the water is usually poured over a mix of cornstarch and sugar. The topping here is pared down to just sugar, which melts and then fuses together in the oven as the water steams away. A dainty crust forms, blanketing the cake and saucy peaches like a sheet of Bubble Wrap, begging to be popped. Recipe adapted slightly from Genius Desserts (Ten Speed Press, September 2018). —Genius Recipes
Watch This Recipe
Renee Erickson’s Peach Cobbler with Hot Sugar Crust
1 hour 10 minutes
large, ripe peaches (about 4 1/2 pounds / 2kg), pitted but not peeled, cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) chunks
Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C), with a rack in the center. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Arrange the peaches in a 9 by 13-inch (23 by 33cm) or similar-size baking pan or gratin dish. Using a zester or Microplane, zest about 2 teaspoons of lemon zest evenly over the fruit. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze about 1⁄4 cup (60g) of lemon juice over the top.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups (300g) of the sugar on medium speed until creamy but sandy, about 1 minute. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and beat on medium speed until all the flour is incorporated and the mixture is evenly crumbly, about 30 seconds more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the milk. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the batter is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Scoop the batter in about 6 large blobs over the peaches. With an offset spatula or the back of a big spoon, carefully spread the batter evenly over the fruit so it’s no more than about 1/2 inch (1.3cm) thick in any one place.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup (100g) sugar over the batter. Drizzle the hot water evenly over the sugar, using it to melt the sugar topping.
Set the pan on the foil-lined baking sheet and bake the cobbler until the top is golden brown and cracked, 70 to 80 minutes. A toothpick stuck in the topping should come out clean or with just crumbs clinging—be sure to check in a few places.
Let the cobbler cool for about 30 minutes to firm up. Serve warm, scooping it into big bowls and pouring a little heavy cream over the top. Refrigerate any leftovers airtight.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.