Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rhubarb-Peach Cobbler

I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately; it's fall (with a brief summer stretch in there--what was that about, England?), which means late-summer fruit desserts and soup.  Lots of soup, but more on that in future posts.  It also means that I've been getting cold(er), so being in the kitchen is warm.  Not because it's a separate room that's easier to heat, but because I'm standing and moving, and spending at least part of my time in front of the stove or the oven or both.  Otherwise I tend to be sitting and writing, which makes me cold(er).

It's been several weeks since I made this, but it was an unqualified success.  So without further ado, Rhubarb-Peach Cobbler.

Rhubarb-Peach Cobbler

Preheat oven to 375º F.
3 peaches or 5 donut peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into half-inch chunks
3-6 stalks of rhubarb, depending on their size, cleaned and chopped into ½ cm - 1 cm pieces (halve über stalks first if necessary, but a variety in size is fine)
½ cup of sugar (give or take, depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
1½ teaspoons of vanilla extract (optional, but if used, make sure it's real vanilla extract)
Toss fruit in non-metallic baking dish that's been lightly greased.  The size and shape can vary, but think about the dough to fruit ratio when eating (the dough will rise slightly, and the fruit will cook down). Toss sugar over top, and mix to coat.  Pour vanilla extract over it, and mix again.  While making the cobbler dough, periodically stir some more, to ensure everything is coated, the sugar will eventually dissolve, and the fruit is starting to release its liquids.
Cobbler Dough (courtesy of Joy of Cooking, now with more sugar and vanilla)
1⅓ cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (or salted, but use less salt above)
⅔ cup heavy cream or ½ cup of milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or more, or less, or none.  need I keep repeating real vanilla?)
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.  Place the butter in the bowl in chunks, and blend until it's crumbly, and the butter is mostly incorporated (if you've not done this, I don't know how to describe it.  It's like making pie crust, unless you do that in a food processor).  Add the cream/milk (or a combo of the two--I told you it was flexible!) and vanilla, and stir together until you have a very sticky dough.  Don't overmix.
With a spoon, drop the cobbler batter over the fruit in the baking dish.  It doesn't have to be pretty, but it should mostly cover the fruit (there can be some small gaps; the dough will rise and expand, but it's also tasty if the fruit juice bubbles through in places).  If you desire, sprinkle some sugar over the top of the cobbler.  Bake in preheated oven on middle rack until the dough is done (or the fruit is done).  It's done when the dough is lightly golden on top and dry, but springy-soft to the touch.  You could try the toothpick test, but if you go too far, you'll hit fruit and ruin your results.  Besides, it's quite tasty if it's slightly undercooked as well.
Serve warm (or cold) with cream (plain, sweetened, or whipped) or ice cream, or just plain.

I love the Joy of Cooking cobbler dough because it's super easy to make, nice and rich, sweet (but not too sweet), and quite forgiving.  You can pretty much do whatever you want with it, and it'll cook (either fast or slow, whatever you need.  It's miraculous that way. Of course, so is fruit). You could probably use it for scones, but it's a bit sticky.  Still, it's a sweet biscuit dough, so it has many, many uses, and I imagine all of them would be tasty.  I made this with less fruit than listed, because it was all I had on hand.  Since The Boy prefers baked goods to basically all things, this was fine with him, but I would have preferred more fruit.  The donut peaches made this dish particularly beautiful, but when I made it again the next week with regular peaches, it was still tasty.  According to the internet, this can also be made with canned cling peaches.

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