Remember that time I told you we had 19.5 pounds of peaches sitting in a box on the countertop, softening and bruising and ripening with the frantic inevitability of a large snowball teetering atop a very steep hill?
Well. We did.
It started with a mosquito (apparently). This rogue mosquito (apparently) got past our fortress of insect security (and by “fortress of security” I mean “we sleep with the windows wide open”) and, a few short nights ago, found itself in our bedroom. Allegedly, said mosquito took a liking to Ben (can’t blame it there, I suppose), and started biting. And biting. With vengeance. Apparently. As far as I’m concerned, this bit about a mosquito may or may not be true. All I know is that I woke up at 3am to blinding light and furious swatting. Half-asleep and wholly confused, I made a cotton-mouthed and squinty-eyed attempt to see what was the matter before muttering something meant to sound like “ok” and sliding back to sleep.
I woke up alone, the bedsheets next to me bunched, crinkled and cold. Interesting. Maybe Ben had woken up early and gone for a run? Overachiever. Maybe he’d bring me back a bagel?
I walked down the hall to the bathroom, thinking about bagels. I opened the door and quickly learned that, no, Ben hadn’t gone for a run. He wasn’t bringing me back a bagel. There he was, scrunched on top of our extra roll-up mattress, which he’d wedged into our tiny bathroom. The mattress looked more like a hammock, the way it was squished between the wall and the bathtub, all lumpy and misshapen in the too-small space, but, apparently, it had to be done. To escape the mosquito. Obviously.
On account of a definitively weird night’s sleep on account of that dastardly mosquito, we decided we needed to get out. Get some fresh air, leave this bizarre and droopy-eyed place. So we hopped in the car and drove two hours, to the peaches. And there were so many peaches! All thoughts of mosquitos and tiredness vanished as we filled our bucket with fuzzy, pink-cheeked fruit, their intoxicatingly sweet smell enrobing us in summer.
We got carried away. To the tune of 19.5 pounds, as I believe I have already mentioned. 19.5 pounds is quite a lot of peaches, you should know. It’s enough to have two whole peaches cut into your morning cereal for two weeks, plus 10 jars of freezer jam, countless fresh snacks eaten, dripping with juice, over the kitchen sink, and one very spectacular cobbler, topped with faintly sweet and satisfyingly crunchy cornmeal biscuits. You’ll want to know about that last one, I imagine. Here she is – thanks (allegedly) to that pesky mosquito.
Cornmeal Peach Cobbler
Inspired by America’s Test Kitchen’s Best Summer Desserts and Bon Appetit, November 2008
- 3 lbs peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 3/4-inch wedges
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup stone-ground cornmeal (medium grind)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2/3 cup chilled heavy whipping cream, plus extra for brushing
- turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place a 9-inch pie dish on top of a parchment lined, rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan.
Gently toss peaches and sugar together in a large bowl and let sit for 5 minutes — the peaches will release some juices and become syrupy. Drain peaches in a colander over a bowl and reserve 1/4 cup of the juice (you can throw out any remaining juice). In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the reserved peach juice, lemon juice, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon until smooth. Mix peaches and juice mixture together in a bowl, and then transfer to the prepared baking dish.
To make the biscuit topping, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the cold, cubed butter and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the dry ingredients, working quickly, until the butter pieces are well incorporated and no larger than lentils. Add the heavy cream and use a rubber spatula to gently stir until the dough comes together, with no dry bits on the bottom of the bowl. Do not overwork the dough.
Use a large spoon or ice cream scoop to divide the dough into 8 rounds, placing them atop the peaches in a circle and leaving a bit of room between each round (the dough will expand in the oven). Brush the tops of each biscuit with some heavy cream, and generously sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Bake the cobbler for about 35 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the biscuits are deeply golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving warm, with a splash of cream or maybe a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.