Edna Lewis’ Cobbler-Pie Hybrid Is for Peach-Lovers Who Want It All
In Edna Lewis’ The Taste of Country Cooking, Lewis celebrates the food and community of her hometown of Freetown, Virginia. I finally added this classic American cookbook to my collection last year, and began cooking through it as part of Kitchn’s Cookbook Club in November. And now that peach season has arrived, I was eager to try the recipe I’d had bookmarked since day one: fresh peach cobbler.
Peach cobbler is a classic Southern sweet, and this version involves baking slices of fresh peaches between a homemade pastry crust. Would this cobbler-meets-pie be the best of both worlds? Here’s what happened when I made Edna Lewis’ fresh peach cobbler.
Get the recipe: Edna Lewis’ Fresh Peach Cobbler with Nutmeg Sauce
How to Make Edna Lewis’ Fresh Peach Cobbler with Nutmeg Sauce
Begin by making a pastry crust. Mix flour and salt together, then work chilled lard into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or your fingertips. Add cold water and mix the dough lightly until it comes together. Work the dough into a ball and set it aside for 15 minutes to rest. Divide the dough in half, then roll one half into a square large enough to fit in and up the sides of a greased 8×8-inch baking pan. Roll out the remaining dough and cut it into strips.
Scatter granulated sugar over the dough in the pan, then add peeled and sliced peaches. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the peaches and dot the top of the fruit with pats of butter. Weave the strips of pastry in a lattice pattern. Place the pan in a 450°F oven, but lower the temperature to 425°F as soon as the pastry is in. Bake for 45 minutes.
Make the nutmeg sauce by whisking sugar, nutmeg, cornstarch, and salt together, then pour in boiling water. Add a slice of orange peel, then boil for 10 minutes. Add brandy, and serve the sauce warm with the peach cobbler.
My Honest Review of Edna Lewis’ Fresh Peach Cobbler with Nutmeg Sauce
It’s no wonder the cobbler-pie hybrid has so many adoring fans: It doesn’t make you choose between the two! With its flaky crust and juicy peaches, all each serving needs is a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and you’re in summer dessert heaven.
Piling the peaches between two layers of homemade pastry dough was new to me, and it lended flaky goodness to every bite. I will say the dough was rather crumbly and a bit difficult to work with — especially in my warm Southern summer kitchen. (Next time, I’ll use my refrigerator to keep the dough chilled between mixing, rolling, and shaping). And although the top lattice browned nicely (it was super pretty when it came out of the oven!), the lack of thickeners in the peach filling meant the juices kept the bottom crust from crisping.
The nutmeg sauce had wonderful flavor, but if you don’t have a huge sweet tooth, you might not need it. (Between the fresh peaches and the sugar sprinkled under and over the fruit, the filling is already sweet). If you do skip the sauce, add the nutmeg and orange zest directly to the peaches instead.
If You’re Making Edna Lewis’ Fresh Peach Cobbler, a Few Tips
- Use an 8×8-inch baking dish or a deep-dish pie plate. The recipe online doesn’t specify, but my hard copy of the cookbook calls for an 8×8-inch square baking dish. A deep-dish pie plate would also be an acceptable alternative — but then wouldn’t that technically make this a pie?
- Replace half of the lard with butter. Lard, especially rendered leaf lard, gives pie dough an impossibly flaky texture. But if you’re looking for buttery flavor, you’ll want to replace half the lard with unsalted butter.
- Add more water. If the pastry dough is still crumbly after adding 1/3 cup of water, add a teaspoon of water at a time until the dough comes together when squeezed.
Overall rating: 7/10
Have you tried Edna Lewis’ Fresh Peach Cobbler with Nutmeg Sauce? Let us know in the comments.