Serves: Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 1 recipe Cream Scones (for dough): Click here for recipe »
- 2¼ pounds ripe peaches, peeled or not according to your taste
- ¼ to ½ cup (1¾ to 3½ ounces) sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for the lattice
- 1 vanilla bean, or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch or tapioca flour, or 4 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- Vanilla ice cream or vanilla crème fraîche, for serving
Procedures:This an example of the biscuit-topped variety of cobbler, with a tender yet crunchy lattice covering warm, vanilla-scented peaches. Remember that the biscuit dough needs to be rolled thinly, about ¹⁄8 inch, or the underside of the lattice will remain gooey rather than cooking through. The technique for weaving the beautiful lattice top may seem a bit intimidating, but it’s one of those techniques that is easier to do than it is to describe. An alternative is to roll the dough as described, then use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut as many shapes as possible (hearts or stars are two favorites). Arrange those shapes on the fruit in concentric circles, starting at the outer edge and working inward, slightly overlapping each row of dough.
Make the filling: Use a paring knife to halve and pit the peaches, then cut into ½-inch-thick slices. Transfer to the large bowl. Taste a peach slice-if it is sweet and ripe, use only ¼ cup sugar (or even less, if it is very sweet). If it's tart or slightly under-ripe, use up to an additional ¼ cup. Place the sugar in the small bowl. Use the tip of the paring knife to split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Turn the knife over and use the dull side to scrape out all the seeds into the sugar. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until the seeds are evenly dispersed. Pour over the fruit. Add the lemon juice and cornstarch (and the vanilla extract or paste, if using) and gently toss with the spatula until all the fruit is evenly coated. Press the fruit into the baking dish in an even layer.
Prepare the dough: Dust your work surface and the top of the dough with flour. Roll the dough into a 16-inch circle about ⅛ inch thick. Rotate the dough slightly each time you roll-this will help you roll the dough into an even circle and will alert you immediately when the dough is sticking to the surface. If it does stick, gently use a bench scraper to release the dough, lifting it off the surface and adding a bit more flour to the surface to prevent further sticking.
Cut the dough into 1½-inch wide strips. The strips toward the center of the circle will be longer than the strips toward the edges and this is fine. You will use the longer strips in the center of your baking dish when weaving the lattice, and the shorter strips near the edges of the dish.
Weave the lattice: Brush any excess flour from the surface of the dough. Gently lift the strips and place half of them about ½-inch apart across the top of the fruit, letting any excess dough fall over the edge of the dish for the moment. Fold every other strip back halfway, exposing the fruit underneath. Precisely at that halfway point, place a strip of dough perpendicular, laying it over the unfolded strips. Unfold the folded strips, laying them over the new strip of dough. Fold back the strips that were left flat the first time, and place another new strip of dough over the fruit and flat strips of dough. Straighten and tighten the dough each time you do this so your lattice looks even. Continue in this manner until you reach the edge of the pan, then turn the pan and weave the other half of the lattice, beginning at the center and working outward. Once the lattice is finished, use the paring knife to trim any overhanging dough flush with the pan. Chill for 20 minutes.
Bake and serve the cobbler: Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Sprinkle the lattice evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. You may want to place a baking sheet or a piece of foil under the cobbler to catch any juices that may bubble over. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the topping is nicely browned and the fruit is bubbling and soft (the tip of the paring knife should easily slide in and out of the peach slices). Serve warm or at room temperature, accompanied by ice cream or crème fraîche.
Storing: This cobbler is at its best immediately after baking. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for 2 to 3 days. Reheat, covered loosely with foil, in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until warmed through.