Editor’s Note: Last week, Laurie Triplette presented Part 1 of peach recipe ideas, including peach simple syrup and peach tea, grilled peaches, and peach pie.
SOUTHERNISM OF THE WEEK
Better’n Butter: A culinary reference to an extraordinary state of being or comparison, like gooder’n grits. … Only a few experiences in life are better than the taste of fresh butter slathered over a hot piece of cornbread or fresh-baked bread, or oozing from the fruit cobbler: The birth of that much-wanted baby, passing the bar exam or part 3 of the CPA exam on the first try, greeting that loved one safely returned from war …
MORE PEACH LOVIN’
This week’s column addresses the all-important differences in baked fruit desserts labeled as cobblers, crisps, crumbles, brown Betty, pandowdy, and buckles. When made correctly, they are all better’n butter! We Southerners tend to call anything containing batter a cobbler, and anything with crumbled topping a crisp. However, there are subtle differences.
A Cobbler consists of fruit topped with a genuine crust. Think fruit pot pie. The crust can be made of biscuit dough or a piecrust. The crust usually is cut or broken into rounds or squares or strips to make a “cobble pattern; and often the cobbler has crust underneath the fruit filling, like a fruit pie. (NOTE: See our Very Berry Cobbler recipe from June 12. Made with a terrific biscuit batter, that cobbler recipe can be modified for peaches, apples, or most any type of fruit.)
In a Crisp, the fruit layer is sprinkled on top with a streusel-type crumble mixture of butter, brown sugar, flour, and oatmeal or nuts. The British make a similar dish but call it a Crumble.
A Brown Betty is similar to a Crisp, but breadcrumbs are used instead of oats, and the streusel is layered in the dish alternating with the fruit, instead of scattered only on top.
A Pandowdy is a deep-dish fruit dessert that incorporates stale, leftover bread or biscuits, broken up and pushed down into the fruit to soak up the cooking fruit juices, like a bread pudding. We usually think of apples and molasses in old-fashioned pandowdy recipes.
A Buckle has the fruit layered on top of (or underneath) a cake or biscuit batter, and sometimes also has a sprinkled streusel. Many of us make and prefer a Peach Buckle that we loosely (and inaccurately) call a peach cobbler.
After a month of experimenting with many versions of the slow cooker cobblers and crisps, I’ve included the two slow cooker versions rated the best by my family, along with The Old Bride’s favorite oven-baked versions.
NOTE: ALL versions must be served with vanilla ice cream.
SLOW COOKER PEACH CRISP
The Old Bride used a near-expiration 6-1/2-pound can of sliced peaches to make the slow cooker buckle and crisp recipes listed here. The 6-1/2-pound can provided almost 9 cups of canned peaches when drained. (The leftover canned peach syrup worked well in “short-cut” peach tea.) For the recipes below, I supplemented the canned peaches with 1 c of fresh, diced peaches.
5 c fresh or canned peaches, drained and sliced
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c light brown sugar, packed
3/4 c light brown sugar
3/4 c all-purpose flour, plus 1 T flour, reserved
3/4 c (10 T) butter, softened
3/4 c of raw old-fashioned oatmeal, or chopped corn flakes, or both
Spray slow cooker pot with non-stick cooking spray (Pam). Combine the peaches with spices and first brown sugar. Pour into the pot.
Make topping, using pastry blender and fingers to blend until crumbly, Sprinkle crumble evenly over the peaches in pot. Sprinkle the reserved tablespoon of flour over the crumble. Set pot on low and cook three to four hours.
SLOW COOKER PEACH BUCKLE
The Old Bride’s family kept sampling this buckle right out of the pot, until there wasn’t enough left to photograph properly. Needless to say, it was a huge hit! The cake mix makes this buckle very sweet; the amount of brown sugar mixed into the peaches could be reduced to a scant half cup.
5 generous c of fresh or canned peaches, chopped
1 c of the peach syrup)
1 tsp almond extract
1 white or vanilla cake mix
1 stick (8 T) butter, cut into 10 squares
1 c light brown sugar, divided (3/4 or less, and 1/4)
2 tsp cinnamon
Spray slow cooker pot with non-stick cooking spray such as Pam. Combine the peaches with the syrup, 3/4 c sugar, and almond extract. Pour into pot. Sprinkle top evenly with 1/4 c brown sugar. Spread dry cake mix evenly over the peaches. DO NOT MIX. Sprinkle remaining brown sugar over the cake mix. Sprinkle cinnamon over the brown sugar. Arrange the butter squares evenly across the top layer.
Set slow cooker on low and cook 6 hours or longer.
CLASSIC PEACH CRISP
3/4 c white granulated sugar
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp corn starch, OPTIONAL
1/2 c all-purpose flour
Pinch of baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 c light brown sugar, packed
1/4 c white granulated sugar
1/2 c (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 c old-fashioned rolled oats
Non-stick cooking spray
Combine peaches, 3/4 c sugar, lemon juice, and optional cornstarch in a bowl. Allow to rest for an hour, tossing gently several times to blend the sugar. (Add the corn starch if you intend to serve while still hot.)
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add butter and use pastry blender and fingers to combine to the consistency of wet crumbs.
Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Ladle peaches into the pan, with juice. Evenly dot top of the peaches with crumbled topping. Bake on center rack in preheated oven set to 375˚F for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the topping bubbles. The crisp will be very runny if served while still hot.
MOM’S OLD FASHIONED PEACH BUCKLE
My mother and her friends all favored this 19th century “cobbler” recipe. The 2T of baking soda cause the ingredients to rise very high when baking. The buckle collapses back down upon cooling, and is terrific served hot or cold.
5 c fresh peaches, sliced
3/4 c white granulated sugar
2 T lemon juice
3/4 c all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
2 T baking powder
1 c white granulated sugar
1/2 c whole milk
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 stick (8 T) butter
Combine the peaches, first sugar, and lemon juice in a bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for an hour. Sift into a large bowl the flour, salt, baking powder, and second sugar. Add the milk and almond extract, stirring until well blended.
Preheat oven to 375 or 400˚F. Spray deep-dish 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Melt the butter in the pan and return to rack. Pour batter over the melted butter, spreading it out evenly. Cover with the peaches in their juice. Place pan on a cookie sheet to catch any spillage.
Bake on middle rack of oven, at least 1 hour, to as much as 1 hour and 15 minutes. NOTE: A regular 8-inch Pyrex baking dish will have run-over, but spillage can be minimized by opening oven door and using a metal spatula to scrape spillage that hasn’t dropped to the cookie sheet back into the dish and toward the middle of the dish.
Laurie Triplette is a writer, historian, and accredited appraiser of fine arts, dedicated to preserving Southern culture and foodways. Author of the award-winning community family cookbook GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’, and editor of ZEBRA TALES (Tailgating Recipes from the Ladies of the NFLRA), Triplette is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SOFAB). Check out the GIMME SOME SUGAR, DARLIN’ web site: www.tripleheartpress.com and follow Laurie’s food adventures on Facebook and Twitter (@LaurieTriplette).