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Recipe: The World's Best Peach Cobbler

Buster began cooking as a wee pup by watching his mother fix the kibble. He was hooked. He loves preparing—and writing about—food.

Love peach cobbler? Here's how to make the perfect crust.

Love peach cobbler? Here's how to make the perfect crust.

The Perfect Peach Cobbler Recipe

I've been baking peach cobblers for years, and I've learned a few things to do, and what NOT to do. The fact is that there's quite a big difference between a merely "good" peach cobbler and a truly great one.

The following recipe has received rave reviews for many years, and I'm sure you'll get lots of praise when you bake it as well. Don't be put off by the long instructions. They may look intimidating, but they really aren't.

I'll walk you through every part of the process.

The Crust

Let's face it. An outstanding peach cobbler comes down to only two things: great peaches (of course) and a knockout crust. Some people will overlook merely "average" peaches if they're topped by an incredible crust.

Here's how to make the best cobbler crust you ever tasted. I've looked all over the Internet and I have never seen a recipe and technique quite like the one I'm about to explain to you.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • one and a half sticks of butter (3/4s of a cup)—chilled
  • 3 tbsp. lard (you can also use shortening)
  • iced water

Crust Directions

  • Mix the flour and salt in a bowl large enough for you to easily work your hands inside of it.
  • Chop the butter into pieces the size of marbles and drop them into the flour, and put in small pieces of the lard or shortening. Toss the butter and lard pieces in the flour, then begin to rub them into the flour with your fingers.
  • Here's the odd part: after you've mixed about half of the butter/lard, meaning you still have roughly half of the marble-sized pieces still in the flour, wet your hands at the tap, shake off the excess, then continue to mix the butter and flour with your fingers. You'll need to wet your hands 3 or 4 times while you're combining the flour and butter.
  • Leave some larger pieces of butter (about the size of peas)—they will make your crust flaky.
  • Spoon about 5 tablespoons of the iced water into your flour, and then use a fork to slowly incorporate the water. It's okay to add more water. Most recipes don't include enough water. However, because you've wetted your hands with water you will notice that you won't need much more than the original 5 tablespoons.
  • Gather it into a ball and place it on plastic wrap. If there's a little bit on the bottom of your bowl that's still dry, it's okay. Press it onto the top of the ball of dough, wrap it up tightly, and put it into the fridge.
  • I know, I know. Who has the time to make the dough and then chill it? But this step of chilling the dough is absolutely vital to making a phenomenal crust. The dough needs to chill for at least an hour, preferably two hours.
  • I usually make my dough in the morning, put it into the refrigerator, then later in the afternoon when I'm ready to make the cobbler, my crust dough is ready to go.

Preparing Your Peaches

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of sliced peaches (see below)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon and 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions

  • If you're using fresh peaches, simply drop them into boiling water for about 30 seconds (this makes it easy to remove the skin) then slice them into a bowl.
  • If you're using peaches from the freezer, you'll want to let them come to room temperature.
  • Combine 1/4 cup of cornstarch with one cup of sugar. It's important to combine these before you add them to your peaches.
  • To four cups of peaches add the sugar/cornstarch mixture and stir carefully.
  • Squeeze half of a lemon into your peaches, then grate about one teaspoon of the lemon rind (the yellow part, not the white part) into the bowl then combine well.
  • Add in 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg (freshly grated is really delicious. But, hey, if what you have is already grated, then use that.)
  • Spray your baking dish with Pam (makes it really easy to clean later, and even an older dishwasher will be able to clean the dish if you do this) then pour your peaches into it.
  • Now you're ready to make your lattice crust.

Rolling Your Crust

Lay out sheets of aluminum foil on your counter then cover them with a light dusting of flour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, and press it into a flat disk with your hand. Using your roller, roll the dough from the center outward till it is about 1/8th of an inch thick.

As you roll, you'll need to lift up the dough and sprinkle flour beneath it. I usually end up turning the dough a couple of times, to make sure it doesn't stick to the foil. You'll find that working with thoroughly chilled dough is so much easier than working with the dough you just mixed!

Slice the dough into long strips, and lay them in a criss-cross pattern on top of your peaches in the baking dish.

Final Touches

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In the "holes" created by the lattice crust, put small pieces of butter. I usually just slice off a thin sliver of butter from a stick, then cut that into fourths. Each of these "fourths" goes into a hole.

Sprinkle sugar on your crust, then carefully sprinkle grated nutmeg and a little cinnamon onto the crust. It doesn't take much, but adding nutmeg to the top of the crust will really increase the delicious aroma when you take it out of the oven.

Then I spray my cobbler with Pam. This will make your crust glisten in the same way that an egg wash will make it glisten. The only difference? It takes me about 10 seconds to spray it with Pam, and quite a while to beat an egg with ice water and paint it onto the crust. In my opinion, the Pam looks better and it certainly is easy.

Put your cobbler into the oven and set the timer for 45 minutes.

Depending on your oven, it may take as long as an hour—you're looking for the crust to become a delicious, crusty brown. After all, part of the charm of a cobbler is the texture contract of soft sweet peaches with a crispy crust.

Serve it with vanilla ice cream, and get ready for the raves!

Questions & Answers

Question: Instead of a lattice crust, can I cover the whole cobbler with crust? If yes, then how long does it need to be baked?

Answer: Yes, you can. Make slits in the dough to release steam. Bake till top is crusty brown.

Question: Can I use canned peaches in this peach cobbler recipe?

Answer: Of course! If using canned peaches, drain them first then follow the directions for fresh peaches.

Question: What size baking dish do you use for peach cobbler? How many servings does a recipe yield? Do you serve hot or cold?

Answer: Use a 13X9 baking dish. The recipe serves 12 -- 15 people. Cobblers are usually served room temperature, but if you can time the baking to serve it hot, then go for it! I always serve cobblers with vanilla ice cream.

Question: My peach cobbler crust is made, but the fresh peaches are still hard. Can they be used? Will they soften in baking process?

Answer: Hard peaches haven't ripened enough to make an excellent cobbler. But yes, they will soften as they bake. Increase the amount of spices to account for the lack of peach flavor.

Next time, wait until the peaches are barely ripe for best peach flavor when baked. Wait till they're perfectly ripe (able to indent the skin with a fingertip) for eating out-of-hand.

Question: Why do you not put crust on the bottom of your cobbler?

Answer: I've put a crust on the bottom before my cobbler before, but it gets soggy. I know that some people like these dumpling-like soft pieces, but I prefer it crispy on the top and avoid crust on the bottom.

If you like those soft pieces, then double the recipe and layer the bottom of your pan with the crust. Spoon the fruit on top then criss-cross the rest of the crust on top.

Question: Can this crust be used for pies?

Answer: Yes, it can. However, it is a "soft" crust and works best (in my opinion) with cobblers or deep-dish pies. I think a more traditional crust -- one with more texture -- works best for a fruit pie, or a double-crust pie.

© 2008 Buster Bucks