Renee Erickson’s Peach Cobbler with Hot Sugar Crust

August  7, 2018
62 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

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
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Serves 8
  • 10 large, ripe peaches (about 4 1/2 pounds / 2kg), pitted but not peeled, cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) chunks
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 cup (110g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (190g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (185g) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (120g) hot water
  • Heavy cream, for serving
In This Recipe
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C), with a rack in the center. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Bryant Miller
    Bryant Miller
  • Lisa Dunn
    Lisa Dunn
  • Claudia Parulo
    Claudia Parulo
  • Tori Pintar
    Tori Pintar
  • Picholine
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

103 Reviews

Magdalena G. May 6, 2021
Please make sure that your hair is either tied up as your assistant or put up on the top of the head!
Thank you
Picholine May 6, 2021
I think this space is for recipe reviews. Not: critiques of a personal nature.
So how did you like this recipe ?
Magdalena G. May 7, 2021
Thank u for your comment but under the circumstances of being
visual I simply "lost the appetite"....
Picholine May 8, 2021
I understand your concern.
AwkwardBarbie September 28, 2020
I made this multiple times over the summer and it is absolutely the best. It's seriously perfect. It's a no fail recipe that all comes together pretty easily. It's forgiving if your peaches aren't super ripe and sweet (just adjust the sugar) and the bright and tangy lemon and amazingly delicious hot sugar crust really add that special something. Don't ignore the suggestion for the heavy whipping cream to pour over it, it's truly mouthwatering and compliments it so well. Even my husband, who's not really into dessert like I am loves this and will demand the last piece.
AwkwardBarbie September 28, 2020
I made this multiple times over the summer and it is absolutely the best. It's seriously perfect. It's a no fail recipe that all comes together pretty easily. It's forgiving if your peaches aren't super ripe and sweet (just adjust the sugar) and the bright and tangy lemon and amazingly delicious hot sugar crust really add that special something. Don't ignore the suggestion for the heavy whipping cream to pour over it, it's truly mouthwatering and compliments it so well. Even my husband, who's not really into dessert like I am loves this and will demand the last piece
Nancy September 1, 2020
Yum. I have been making peach cobbler several times this month. This is a terrific recipe, and the pick of all I have tried. I did sprinkle 1-2 T. Of almond liqueur (amaretto) over the peaches, but otherwise just as the recipe states. My guests loved it, and I loved it.
krista August 14, 2020
Oh wow! This was so delicious. I used a few more peaches because ours were small (didn’t really measure) and 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with the lemon juice. Most of it was devoured last night and the measly leftovers were delicious this morning as well. Next time I will try reducing the sugar a bit and using even more peaches or nectarines. Just personal preference. Thanks so much for this fun and scrumptious recipe.
Cindy R. August 14, 2020
I've made this recipe many times and I haven't experienced any problems. It is hands down a family favorite at my house! Both my husband and my daughter want peach cobbler for their summer birthdays instead of cake. As someone with gluten intolerance, this recipe easily translates. I've also made this with peaches that were under-ripe (practically turnips!) and adjusted by adding 1/4 cup of sugar to the peaches and didn't find it overly sweet. I think this is a slam dunk!
Bryant M. August 10, 2020
This is one of the most disappointing recipes I've ever tested.

I love peach cobbler — it's my favorite dessert! I often joke that peach cobbler is like pizza... even a bad one is delicious. Well I'll officially stop saying that after making this one. Yeah, it was that bad.

Let's start with the one saving grace: The weird hot water crust actually worked, and it was delicious! It looked like a meringue, had the crunch of crème brûlée, and had the flavor of a white birthday cake.

The rest was a big, goopy mess. The 4.5 lbs of peaches basically cooked away, and it was like fruit soup at the bottom. I can't believe I used the last of my delicious peaches just to be wasted!

And despite baking the maximum time of 80 minutes, the middle of my crust was somehow still underdone. Yes, I swear I toothpicked it in several places.

A few things to note: I made this recipe to a T. My oven temperature has been checked. The peaches were firm and just-ripe.

I'm normally an optimist and would say how I would make this next time, but I don't even know how to fix this mess. 0/10 would not recommend.
Anne P. July 26, 2020
This is not the recipe you want to try for a traditional peach cobbler.
Rob W. July 13, 2020
I just made this delicious cobbler again a few nights ago. Personally I don't like cooked peaches. I always make it with nectarines and blackberries and it never disappoints.

As written, the recipe is way too sweet, so I reduce sugar to around 1 cup in the batter and around 1/4 cup on top. I've made it vegan a few times with Myokos Vegan Butter and either oat or coconut milk. I can hardly tell the difference between a dairy and vegan version of this cobbler.

I always make it gluten free as well and have tried a variety of flours. King Arthur and Bob's 1:1 flours do an okay job. I also tried cassava flour, but that didn't turn out well. This last time I used Steve's GF Cake Flour blend by Authentic Foods and it turned out fantastic. I recently discovered this gluten free blend and so far it has performed amazingly well in everything I've made. I highly recommend it if you're gluten free.
[email protected] July 13, 2020
Made this for somebody's birthday. Not sure if he liked it or not. He is a fitness person so it may have been too sweet but boy does it bake up pretty. I did use a combo of canned and frozen freestone peaches which have the look of fresh. I kept some of their juice and mixed some additional juice with cornstarch.
Here are some tips-
1) Use a heavy or solid bottom baking dish. Due to the amount of peaches I used, if you have one of those foil bottom pans, you could potentially spill some of your filling.
2) Per what another reviewer said, use a deep pan or leave room at the top of your baking dish. As the batter bakes, it actually expands upward. That is why it is best to have a baking sheet on the bottom rack as suggested in the recipe. I did have just a slight spill of the crust but thank goodness for the sheet pan. No oven mess to clean up.
3) Be careful with juices. Again the crust will rise and you may have some juice overflow.
4) If you use a tin foil pan, be careful how you remove from the oven. My crust cracked a little because those pans tend to give a little on the sides. That caused some minor cracks.

I am happy to share photos on instagram. I too did not get a chance to see the inside. I will need to make this for my husband and I see and judge for myself.
Lori April 21, 2020
I usually do not gravitate toward cobbler anything but I was feeling like a fruity dessert after eating a whole pie plate of apple crisp a couple weeks back (yikes!)

Made this 2 days ago but used blueberries instead of peaches, but will definitely try it when they are in season. :) I only had 18 oz. of blueberries so the recipe was cut in half. Followed most of the recipe & instructions with these modifications:

In a 8x8 glass pan, Macerated 18 oz blueberries with the lemon zest, lemon juice of a small lemon plus added 1 T. of maple syrup for about an hour. Just before topping it with the dough, added 1 T. of tapioca flour to reduce the juicy/runniness. (I like a tighter sauce, but not as thick as pie)

Made 1/2 of the dough recipe AND also cut the sugar by 1/3 (100 gm in dough, 33 g sprinkled on top). Also added 1/2 tsp vanilla (I love vanilla)

It was perfect. Served w/ vanilla ice cream & topped with whipped cream. The juice is so delicious it could be used the next day on top of yogurt, oatmeal etc. The sugary crunchy crust reminded me of the Hostess fruit pies. The best is sneaking a spoonful straight out of the fridge!

I could only share photos of the finished product w/ friends and family and almost everyone requested the recipe. THANK YOU!
Elaine S. August 10, 2019
I love the sugar crust. I was wondering if this technique would work in other applications,,,like on pie dough?
theconfusedquilter August 1, 2019
Made this tonight and we just loved it. Like how the peach flavor shines through with just that hint of lemon from the zest. The topping was amazing! We loved it! Crispy, crunchy, chewy, cakey--it has every possible texture depending on which part of the topping you have on your spoon. Add in the sweet and buttery flavor and it is a home run.
Plus, it was just plain fun to pour boiling water over the topping!
Lisa D. July 29, 2019
My husband loved this dish - claimed it was off the charts delish! I bought pot pie sized pans and made 11 to share with friends and family. I want to share how I pitted my peaches- used the best magic too ever... an apple slicer! Yup- it slices into the peach and pushes the pit out the opposite end you started from. Gorgeous!!
marilu August 29, 2019
You made 11 of these?? You’re amazing! And very generous :)
Lisa D. August 29, 2019
Claudia P. June 30, 2019
Great recipe. I used nectarines and cherries and it was a perfect summer dessert. Thank you!
Iloveveggies December 25, 2018
So delicious! I made it vegan by using Mykonos vegan butter and used canned coconut milk instead of dairy milk. Following some other comments, I lowered to the sugar to 1 cup in the batter and 1/4 cup sprinkled ontop. I still found it to be plenty sweet. Used a mixture of honecrisp apples and frozen cranberries as the fruit. It came out beautifully even though my oven picked Christmas Day to start being temperamental. It kept cutting on and off, so the temperature was changing wildly and I had to cook it for longer, but the crust still came out perfectly crispy! It was a hit with everyone!
Tori P. November 20, 2018
I love this recipe. The hard crust on top is delicious and overall this recipe is so easy. I am experimenting with pears, apples and cranberries this time for a Thanksgiving twist.
Denise S. September 8, 2018
I’ve made this twice now and really like the recipe and results. I added some cinnamon to the peaches, just because I like cinnamon with peaches. Also, I used half-and-half in the batter because we are not milk drinkers in our house and Trader Joe’s, where I shop, primarily, doesn’t sell containers of whole milk smaller than a full quart. However, half-and-half comes in a half quart size and I can find other cooking uses for the smaller amount left over. (I don’t like to waste food.). Consequently, the batter turns out nice and fluffy. No problem spreading it across the length and width of the pan! It garners very positive responses from those who eat it. I’ve been an insulin-dependent diabetic for over fifty years, so none for me. But others love it, especially warm with ice cream.
Therese September 2, 2018
I really wanted to love this and was so excited to make it after reading all the great reviews but I was underwhelmed. My whole family thought it was just ok. The peaches I used were gorgeous and I have 2 left over and I look forward to eating them plain and savoring their end of summer flavor. Maybe that was the problem - I just felt that the flavors of the peaches didn’t jump through the heavy batter. But, I’m clearly in the minority.
Becky September 2, 2018
This is now my go to peach cobbler recipe! I've made others but this truly is the best. Today was my second time making it (the first time I halved the recipe and it did fine) but I made the full one today. I did add 1/2 t cinnamon and about 1/4 t almond extract to the batter and it was even better! Yes it was juicy but still very good. I do admit though that I peeled my peaches first as I don't like the texture of the peel with it. Thanks for bringing this recipe to light as it reminds me in a good way of cobblers we had at Wednesday night church suppers and those we use to get at Morrison's or Piccadilly cafeterias. So delicious! My husband inhaled it! Leftovers we warmed in the microwave at 50% power. It did great. Definitely don't forget serving it with the cream!