RE: Southern Peach Cobbler
Wed, 12/31/03 11:15 PM
Jellybeans, This article might help clarify some questions you have about cobblers. You'll note it does not mention the batter style cobbler that John and I offered recipes for. The subject of the article followed her family traditions and makes a crust from pie dough, biscuit dough or dough crumbs. My mother made all her cobblers with pie dough.
When you're thinking of a batter style cobbler, think: "adding cake mix batter to fruit to make pie." As I'm too lazy to make an old-fashioned cobbler, batter style is the way for me. They are delicous, especially blueberry and peach.
By Reagan Walker
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Dana Phelps-Marschalk has found a simple way to be considered a culinary genius.
When there's company at her Brownwood Park home for dinner, an organizational meeting of her dance troupe, or a gathering of the girlfriends to trade clothes and gossip, Phelps-Marschalk provides the no-fail crowd pleaser: cobbler.
"It's so funny. Cobbler is probably the easiest thing in the world to make. A real no-brainer," said Phelps-Marschalk. "But when you play around with different fruits and combinations, people think it's miraculous. They just go on and on like nobody else can do it."
Cobblers that feature such fruits as mangoes and raspberries and kiwis and pears have earned her the title "cobbler queen" among some of her friends.
And now is the sweetest time of the year to strut her stuff. The basic combination of fruit and dough, perhaps topped with ice cream or heavy cream, just sings summer.
Of course, as with anything so dearly loved in the South, what we call these fruit-and-dough delights depends on whom you are asking. But usually, a cobbler is fruit, baked with a crust on top, whether it's biscuit dough, pie dough or dough crumbs.
A crisp is fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of butter, sugar, flour and, sometimes, nuts. Other crisp toppings include oatmeal, buttered bread crumbs, cookie crumbs, graham cracker crumbs and cake crumbs.
From there, the variations begin to blossom. A brown betty is similar to a crisp but with layers of crumbs rather than just a topping. A grunt or slump resembles a cobbler but is steamed on top of the stove rather than baked, and so forth.
Such fruit desserts have been around a long time. Theories in food-history circles suggest that because they are simple, cobblers and similar fruit desserts were handed down orally for years before they were ever recorded.
One of the earliest written references comes from the 1839 cookbook "The Kentucky Housewife," wherein Lettice Bryan mentions a peach potpie, writing, "Although it is not a fashionable pie for company, it is very excellent for family use, with cold sweet milk."
Today, Phelps-Marschalk and many other home cooks would agree that cobbler is fine for family but would beg to differ on the idea of not serving it to company. After all, in this do-it-fast age, anything so pure and tasty and quick to fix is fashionable.
And all you need is one good recipe. Phelps-Marschalk, an Augusta native, borrowed her mother's, which came from a local Master's Tournament cookbook. It was a classic peach cobbler recipe, and for the most part, she simply varies the two cups of fruit.
"The only fruit I've tried that absolutely did not work was oranges," Phelps-Marschalk said.
Experience has taught her to make some modifications now and then. The sweeter the fruit, the less sugar she adds to it. If the fruit is very sweet or has a distinctive flavor, such as mangoes, she'll cut the sugar in the dough as well.
And sometimes, the occasion calls for the classic. "I've never combined anything with peaches. It's just so good in its purest form," she said. "The epitome of the Southern dessert."
Then she added, "Of course, my favorite time to eat it is for breakfast."