Renee Erickson’s Peach Cobbler with Hot Sugar Crust

August 7, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Serves: 8
Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 10 min


  • 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.

More Great Recipes:
Cobbler/Crumble|American|Peach|Milk/Cream|Bake|One-Bowl Baking|Serves a Crowd|Labor Day|Party|Potluck|Summer|Weekend Cooking

Reviews (83) Questions (2)

83 Reviews

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!
Janet O. September 1, 2018
I am taking this to a bbq, how best to rewarm? bake it the 70 minutes and 10 minutes at the site? Or cook for the entire 80 minutes and then microwave it or will it lose the crisp topping?
Kristen M. September 2, 2018
I think I would bake it all the way through, and then re-warm in an oven, to keep the crisp top. I'd do a low (~300-degree) oven, and the timing will vary depending on how much it's cooled off. (Maybe others in this thread can comment on how microwaving has worked out for them.) It's also great at room temp, if you don't want to bother.
Janet O. September 3, 2018
I did bake it all the way thru, then put it in a towel lined "cooler" and it stayed warm for 6 hours.
mary August 28, 2018
I made this reducing sugar in batter by 1/2 cup and replaced it with almond paste. I added 1/8 t. Almond extract to batter also. I also added some fresh raspberries to peaches. Final addition. Before sprinkling with sugar I added enough toasted slivered almonds to lightly cover the top.
Julie September 10, 2018
I love this idea...
ellen August 27, 2018
I made this yesterday, using (24oz) jar and a half of sliced peaches, drained, and sprinkled a little nutmeg over the peaches. It was delicious! I was a little skeptical about pouring the hot water over it, but turned out perfectly! Thank you for a great recipe!
ctgal August 27, 2018
Our summer peaches don't exist on the west coast of Florida. Heartbreaking. So glad you said it's good with nectarines and blueberries. Those, we can get. Making this tomorrow!!
ursula August 23, 2018
I just made this for the second time.I made the first one a week ago and my hubby hasn't stopped talking about it.
We didn't mind the extra juice...just scooped some over the peaches and the topping absorbed it.
Great recipe!!!
Regine August 20, 2018
Really good topping but I really think the flavor of the peaches was diluted due to all the juices. Next time I will definitely cook the peaches first and drain the juice to concentrate the flavor; and then top it with the cake batter and the sugar/hot water, and bake it.
Joanie August 20, 2018
This was delicious! I’ll be making it again. That sugar crust is terrific! I’m anxious to try other fruits. Thank you!
Linda D. August 20, 2018
Loved it! Thank you!
Kelly August 19, 2018
Phenomenal! So freaking good. Sadly, it loses the crunch as leftovers. So cut in half or serve a crowd. Would be great with vanilla ice cream too.
Regine August 18, 2018
I just had some after waiting about 30 minutes from when i took it out of the oven. That sugary meringue like topping is indeed divine and I could even see myself spreading the cake batter on its own onto a cookie sheet pan with the sugar and hot water topping, and bake it like a giant cookie. This dessert is indeed
good with the addition of the heavy
cream. The only thing is that the peaches obviously gave out a lot of liquid, and I would not have minded if there was none. Maybe this is why it might be even better the second day after the juices have thickened a bit. I look forward to having some more on the second day. Also, next time I make it, i may consider baking the fruits first, drain some of the juiced and then put the cake batter. But I do agree that it is a delicious dessert with a super genius topping.
louisez August 18, 2018
Everyone loved this. Made a vegan version using vegan butter - half a recipe made in an 8" square pan (took less time to bake -- about 50-60 minutes). Served without cream or ice cream, at room temperature, or cold.
louisez August 18, 2018
Also used non-dairy milk.
ctgal August 27, 2018
I assume you didn't use gluten free flour. Just checking, for myself.
ctgal August 27, 2018
Nevermind. I scrolled down and saw someone else did. Tx!
Martha H. August 15, 2018
Have you ever made this using any other fruits? This is a Fantastic recipe I have made it twice and both times it was Wonderful.
Myra August 14, 2018
The cream that is served with it...did you add any flavoring or sugar?
Kristen M. August 14, 2018
Nope, just cold cream, not even whipped :) It balances out the sweetness of the topping and tartness of the peaches really nicely.
Rob W. August 13, 2018
I made it with King Arthur gluten free flour and palm sugar (the Asian kind that comes in rounds that you have to grate). I used way less sugar. 2 cups seems very excessive. I had intended to use 200g in the batter and 100g on top, but accidentally put the 100g in the batter and used 100g for the crust. I thought it was perfect. Not too sweet and really let the fruit and berries shine. I made it with a mix of nectarines and blackberries. The lemon is inspired. Loved the flavors. Next time I’m going to use cane sugar. I think it produces a better crust. It didn’t rise as much as I expected, but that is likely due to all the changes I made.
Catherine A. August 12, 2018
This is even better the second day! Beautiful crisp crustiness on top and bright peachiness underneath. A splash of cream, and it's the perfect summer dessert.
Kristen M. August 14, 2018
So great to know this—did you reheat it or eat it cold? (I usually just eat it cold, but I'm curious how reheating goes in the microwave vs. the oven.)