Sunday, July 15, 2012

Peach Cobbler with Brandy and Ginger Biscuits

Seattle had a surprising stretch of summer this week: for 7 days in a row, we ate dinner outside on our patio, enjoying either grilled bratwurst, grilled tofu (yes, just sliced thickly and brushed with oil!) and vegetables, or chilled pasta salad with salmon, not to mention bowlsful of ripe local cherries and lots of pit-spitting contests into our bushes.

These back-to-back days of sunny weather, along with our long, long evenings of daylight (it's still dusky at 10 p.m.!) meant that instead of writing and posting blog entries, I've been gardening and entertaining. A few nights ago though, as we were lingering after dinner listening to the trickle of our backyard fountain and scoping for a glimpse of the resident hummingbirds, Will announced "You should make peach cobbler."

Oh. Okay. Good idea.

Lest I sound like a wife of my grandmother's era with the duty in life to serve my husband's desires, let's just say that I agreed Will was on to something with this plan. He wouldn't be the only beneficiary if indulged his request. Moments later, when checking my email, a friend had sent-out an invitation for a short-notice barbeque gathering. I texted back inquiring: "Permission to bring potluck-sized pan of peach cobbler?" "YES Please!" was her reply, which is how five pounds of giant, ripe, fragrant, blushing fuzzy fruits ended up in my kitchen.

I have made peach cobbler before using the biscuit recipe from Joy of Cooking. I had some ideas for how to glam it up a bit, in particular, I love the peach-and-ginger combination. But as is my habit, I searched online for how others have made such incorporations before just launching into my own variation. I'm glad I did, because I came accross this version using prosecco in the fruit filling! That seemed like a terrific idea, though her recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups (!!) of liquid, which seems like a soupy mess and way tooooo liquidy for scooping onto a paper plate at a picnic table.  So I made my own modifications to her recipe, but I love that post's step-by-step photos, and I also really love the way she made the cobbler crust in diamond-shaped biscuits that bake together into a craggy sculptural surface.


Peach Cobbler with Ginger Biscuits
For Crust:
1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup oat flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces frozen unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger
additional cream, milk, or egg to glaze finished crust
additional 4-6 tablespoons flour for kneading/shaping

Stir together dry ingredients. With paddle attachment to stand mixer, beat in butter pieces into clumps form.
Mix together egg and cream. Add ginger (I used 1 T and thought more would have been delicious) and blend wet ingredients into dry, just until incorporated. Turn dough onto large floured piece of parchement or wax paper and form into 6" x 8" x 1" rectangle. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour, and fold dough in half, repeating 4 times, reshaping after each fold into a 6x8x1 piece. Fold tightly in parchment and freeze for 30 minutes.

For Filling:
3 pounds peaches
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons brandy
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

Blanch peaches if desired to make skins easy to remove (dip whole peach into boiling water for 10 seconds, then transfer to a bowl of ice water for 10 seconds.)
Peel peaches and slice into 8-12 wedges each. Toss with remaining ingredients.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter 9x13 pan. Spread peach filling evenly in pan.
Cut chilled dough into diamond shapes, approximately 1.5" across. Dough should be about 1" thick. Lay cut diamonds on top of peach filling. Brush with egg wash or cream, and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake about 32 minutes until filling is bubbling and biscuits are golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature.

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