“Tis the season indeed for all the great foods of summer, farm-fresh and abundant at farmers’ markets now.  And while I’m thrilled to have farm-fresh corn and tomatoes all the time; new potatoes, fresh dug carrots and more, my penchant is for sweets and that’s when I make a beeline for local fruits and berries at the markets.  Last week I found local peaches at the Winslow Farm stand at the Cumberland Farmer’s Market. When I saw they had peaches I scooped up several pounds of this year’s most elusive fruit, made so because of the drought.

Reports have been that this season will not be kind to peach growers, though the farmers at Winslow Farm along Route 100 in West Falmouth said they have an abundant supply.

Peach cobbler

Peach cobbler

Putting them in a pie shell or in ice cream is the usual destination for peaches, but I actually prefer  cobblers.

There are several styles of cobbler:  fruit is covered with a biscuit topping; sunk into a batter or baked deep dish in a rich pastry casing.

Blackberry cobbler fresh out of the oven

Blackberry cobbler fresh out of the oven

This week I opted for the deep-dish style cobbler.  And I found several inspirations from chef and cookbook author Edna Lewis in her three books Taste of Country Cooking, In Pursuit of Flavor and The Gift of Southern Cooking; I made both the peach cobbler and one with blackberries.

My version is a blending of several of her cobbler recipes.  What’s unique about them is the use of crushed sugar cubes to replace ordinary granulated sugar. This offers an amazing texture to both the filling and the pastry dough in that the little flecks of hard sugar from crushing the cubes are like eating candy straight off the bark, so to speak.

Serving of blackberry deep-dish cobbler

Serving of blackberry deep-dish cobbler

I used to see boxes of sugar cubes at the supermarket.  But after looking at Hannaford (I didn’t try Shaw’s), they’re not stocked there.  Whole Foods had what was labeled as European style sugar cubes, offered for $6.99, a lot to pay for 12 ounces of sugar.  Most 4-pound boxes of sugar cost under $3.

I offer two cobbler recipes: one for blackberries (different from  last week’s) and another for peaches.  Both, however, are adapted, with some changes, from Ms. Lewis’s books.

Both cobblers are made with a lard pastry, but you can replace it with half butter and half lard or an all-butter crust. But I suggest going for the lard crust because the special flakey texture of an all-lard crust goes so well with these cobbler fillings. Fresh lard is available from the butchers at Rosemont or the Farm Stand.   You can also replace the crushed sugar cubes with granulated sugar, but give it a try—it’s unique.  The easiest way to crush the cubes is to put them in a  plastic bag and crush the cubes with a rolling pin or mallet.  Opt for various sizes of crushed cubes—some very small, almost granulated and others  slightly bigger similar in size to rock salt.

Scoop out the peach cobbler into a shallow bowl to serve

Scoop out the peach cobbler into a shallow bowl to serve

Another interesting step in the peach cobbler was to tuck in the trimmings of leftover dough in the peach filling.  This gives it a slightly crunchy texture and helps to thicken the mixture.

Peach Cobbler and Deep-Dish Blackberry Cobbler

Yield: 6 to 8

Peach Cobbler and Deep-Dish Blackberry Cobbler

Ingredients

    Peach Cobbler
  • Pastry
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 heaping tablespoon granulated sugar
  • A few grindings of freshly ground sea salt
  • 3/4 cups (6 ounces) freshly rendered lard
  • About 3/4 cup ice water
  • Extra crushed sugar for dusting
  • Heavy cream, for glazing
  • Filling
  • 6 to 8 cups peaches, unpeeled, cored and pitted, cut into slices about ½ inch thick
  • 3/4 cup crushed sugar cubes or granulated
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons flour
    Blackberry Deep-Dish Cobbler
  • Pastry
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) freshly rendered lard
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • Heavy cream for brushing
  • Crushed sugar for dusting
  • Filling
  • 4 to 5 cups wild blackberries
  • 1 cup crushed sugar cubes or granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons butter cut into thin slices

Instructions

    Peach Cobbler.
  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Lightly grease an 8 by 8 by 2 inch baking dish, preferably glass. Set aside.
  3. Pastry. Meanwhile prepare the pastry by putting the flour, salt and sugar into the workbowl of a food processor. Process for a few seconds to mix.
  4. Add the lard, in small pieces, to the flour mixture and pulse 10 times until the size of peas. Slowly add the water, starting with 1/2 cup, pulsing until the dough starts to stick together and is slightly moist. Add more water if necessary.
  5. Remove to a lightly floured board and give it a turn or two and shape into a rough ball. Cut in half, flatten gently to 2 disks about 1-inch-thick and wrap in plastic to refrigerate for 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
  6. Roll out the bottom crust fitted into the pan, trimming the overhang to a half inch; save the scraps.
  7. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the crushed sugar over the bottom of the pastry. Set aside while you prepare the filling
  8. Peach Filling. Put the sliced peaches into an 8 cup glass measure, filling with 6 to 8 cups of peaches. You’ll need about 2 1/2 pounds peaches. Add the remaining sugar (reserving 2 tablespoons for dusting), the flour and nutmeg to the peaches. Mix with your hands until thoroughly combined with the fruit. Let sit 5 minutes before filling the cobbler.
  9. Put the peaches into the pastry lined pan and refrigerate while you roll out the top crust.
  10. Remove the pan from the refrigerator and moisten the rim. Add the pats of butter over the peaches and tuck the scraps of dough into the peach mixture. Affix the top crust and, cutting off excess (you want a 1/2-inch overhang). Fold the two crusts under and crimp decoratively.
  11. Brush the top with cream and sprinkle on about 2 tablespoons of crushed sugar. Make 6 slits in the dough; put the cobbler on a parchment lined shallow baking pan and put in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until the dough starts to puff and color slightly. Lower the heat to 375 and continue to bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the top is a rich golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  12. Remove and let cool for 15 minutes or longer before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or just plain; it’s very rich so ice cream is not needed.
    Blackberry Cobbler.
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease a 7 by 7-inch baking pan, glass or ceramic. You can use an 8-inch square pan in which case, follow the measurements for the peach cobbler pastry and increase the blackberries to 5 to 6 cups.
  2. Prepare the pastry much in the same way as for the peach cobbler. Line the baking dish with half pastry, sprinkling in about 2 tablespoons of the crushed sugar. Set aside.
  3. Put the blackberries in a mixing bowl and sprinkle on the remaining sugar (reserving 2 tablespoons to dust the top of the cobbler) and cornstarch.
  4. Add to the pastry lined baking dish. Put pats of butter over berries. Roll out the second pastry dough, moisten the rim and affix this over the berries, trimming to have a 1/2-inch overhang. Fold both overhangs under to completely seal the dish and crimp as desired.
  5. Brush the tops with cream, sprinkle on about 2 tablespoons sugar and make 6 slits in the pastry for steam to escape.
  6. Put onto a parchment lined baking sheet and put into the oven, immediately lowering the temperature to 425 degrees. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is richly golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  7. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving, either plain or with vanilla ice cream.
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