Peach Crisp

Nine times out of ten, it’s fun to bake recipes that evoke some sort of nostalgia. Take steak and cheese subs, for instance. They remind me of a girlhood in little Italy. Or lemon squares, all my most precious memories hidden in a box in my childhood closet. But peach cobbler, not so much.

You see, the first time I had peach cobbler, I was at a cult meeting. I mean girl scouts. Close. It was the beginning of fall, a day not unlike this Wednesday, all crisp and amber and orange. Halfway through our meeting, which I would imagine had to do with helping the community, my troop leader decided we needed to stop for a sweet snack. Or, that someone needed to put something in my mouth because I was beginning to tell my own versions of “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” Something like, “The Tale of the Ex-Girl Scout Member,” I presume.

Twenty minutes later, as we were huddled around that teak squoval table, Mrs. Spaulding set down a still-steaming dish of, what I took to be, beige slop. The other girls mmm’ed and ooooo’ed, but I, I sat in horror. Maybe I’ll just have a twinki…

Mounds of buttermilk biscuits plopped haphazardly on top of bright orange chunks. “Peach cobbler,” I was told. I watched as she spooned the piping hot portion into my bowl. Like a mess hall in the army. The one from M*A*S*H.

I looked to my right, looked to my left, and got the sense that whatever was in this bowl o’ mush was damn good. Spectacular, judging by the excitement.

I took a bite. Not spectacular. Not horrible either. Just bland. Gently salted, tasteless dough that reminded me of a white, firm crusted dinner roll. The orange peach mass underneath, gooey to the point of gelatinous. Combined, the flavor made me think of Little House on the Prairie. The days when sugar and butter were precious and used sparingly. What Laura must have eaten for dessert, if Ma baked that day, and if the peach crops had been kind that year. I bet Nellie Oleson had better. Since she was rich.

The whole experience could have gone down in flames for me, save for one simple addition. Vanilla bean ice cream. Just when I was about to throw peach cobbler to the dogs, Mrs. Spaulding sashayed back from the freezer with a half gallon of Breyer’s. “How could I forget, girls, the special ingredient!”

Cue the group: YAY!! I was praying for a miracle, here. And sure enough, as ice cream does, it performed magic. That double scoop of frozen white cream took the cobbler from “Someone please pass me the sugar bowl,” to “Someone please pass me the serving dish and the largest spoon you’ve got.”

It was the cold against the hot, the sweet cream melting into gobs of dough, the peaches pooling with vanilla to make a silky sauce.

And though the ice cream did make it taste sweet and cozy, I still wasn’t crazy about the lone cobbler part. Fortunately, Mrs. Spaulding didn’t ruin the cobbler scene for me entirely, she just revealed to me that I’m a sweet-seeker and for that reason alone, cobblers fall short. They don’t make me want to jazz square through my living room.

In the fourteen or so years since that meeting, I’ve quit girl scouts, stopped telling homemade ghost stories, thanked vanilla ice cream profusely, and come to realize that cobblers just don’t do it for me. Not like crisps, anyway.

You see, when I first met streusel, the crumbly brown sugar-butter-oat topping on many fruit desserts, we got engaged in just two short hours. And I’ve yet to meet another that dazzles me in quite the same way. I adore the gentle spice of crisps, the sweet crunchy crust in unison with gooey, ripe fruit. Crumbly bits, all buttery brown.

This pretty peach number is a crisp. Not a cobbler. And because I love crisp topping enough to shout it through a megaphone, I’ve doubled the crisp part and made not only a topping, but a bottom crust too. Genius meet gluttony, gluttony meet genius. Talk amongst yourselves.

A scoop of this peach crisp is sweet, cinnamon-scented, fever-inducing, and rich. I recommend dishing it up warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an episode of Nickelodeon’s “Are You Afraid of the Dark.” (It’s on YouTube. Trust me.)

Preheat the oven to 400º. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add to the butter-sugar mixture and stir to mix well. It will be crumbly, with clumps of butter/flour/sugar the size of peas.

Pat 1/3 of this mixture into the bottom of a sprayed 8×8 baking dish. Press firmly. Reserve remaining oat mixture for topping.

Now make your peach filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the peaches, sugar, corn starch, and lemon juice.

Pour into your prepared crust, spreading evenly.

Scatter the reserved topping evenly over the top of the peaches.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the crisp topping is light golden brown and the peaches are bubbling around the edges of the pan.

Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Peach Crisp

For the Crust and Crisp Topping:

  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup plus 2 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup quick cooking oats
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

For the Peach Filling:

  • 3 large peaches, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 tsp corn starch
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400º. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add to the butter-sugar mixture and stir to mix well. It will be crumbly, with clumps of butter/flour/sugar the size of peas.

Pat 1/3 of this mixture into the bottom of a sprayed 8×8 baking dish. Press firmly. Reserve remaining oat mixture for topping.

Now make your peach filling: In a medium bowl, stir together the peaches, sugar, corn starch, and lemon juice.

Pour into your prepared crust, spreading evenly.

Scatter the reserved topping evenly over the top of the peaches.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the crisp topping is light golden brown and the peaches are bubbling around the edges of the pan.

Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Comments

  1. says

    Oats, butter and brown sugar (cinnamon can attend too) baked on top of ANYTHING makes life better….don’t forget the vanilla ice cream.

    I just made it’s sister for dessert this weekend…Apple crisp.

    I was a girl scout ….and my MOM was the leader. OH the insanity my life was.

    I LAUGHED when you called it a cult. That is hysterical.

  2. says

    Why have I never thought of making a crisp bottom on a crisp? Genius!

    Now I’m off to go make all my future crisps with a bottom and a top. Clearly gluttony and genius were meant to be best friends.

  3. Tamar says

    You should totally give peach cobbler another try. I’d never had it before 2 days ago, when I bought 10 pounds of peaches from the farmers’ market and didn’t know how to use them. I used this recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/peach-cobbler-recipe/index.html from Paula Dean, and with 2 cups of sugar, it is definitely sweet and definitely delicious. I agreed with the commenters, and used less than 1/2 the butter she recommends with no problems- it IS Paula Dean, after all.

    Either way, the peach crisp looks amazing, and as a new reader, I love how detailed your pictures are! I just made your congo bars last night for a party, which is how I found your website, and they’re unbelievable.

    • says

      Wow, what a great comment! Thanks so much, not only for the kind words, but also for leading me to Paula Deen’s recipe for cobbler- looks absolutely delish! That lady is divine. I’m also happy that you tried the congo bars. They are, without question, magical. Thanks again!

  4. says

    So I went to Brownies for ONE day because my mom made me. We had to trace ourselves, and I got bored and walked home.

    This also might explain why I did not have many friends growing up.

    I love love love your blogging style.

  5. says

    The “crisps” have it over those those gloppy “cobblers”. Ah, it’s so nice to be validated. Brown sugar, oats and cinnamon crispy, crunchy, yummy, oh yes. Peach, apple, or cherry crisps… fall is here.

    I could taste the last cobbler I had the second I read “gently salted, tasteless dough” and that had to be over 20 years ago. Thumbs up on the cult comment too… still laughing.

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