Peaches—at their juicy-sweet, summer-best this month—are one of the things my family loves right now. And while most of our experiences with summer baking have been, well, peachy, we had a major disaster on our hands one time when my parents came for dinner.
Dessert that night was not a sweet success. The kids and I had made a peach-and-blueberry pie that called for the fresh berries and peaches to be cooked on the stove with sugar and water, and cornstarch as a thickener. We then spooned the mixture into a graham-cracker crust, chilled it, and ultimately topped it with whipped cream. The pie looked beautiful and seemed to be a perfect end to the meal. Everyone oohed and aahed. But when we took a bite, all we tasted was a horrible bitterness. Somehow, I had used baking powder instead of cornstarch! The pie was so bad we threw the whole thing out and I brought out ice cream for dessert instead.
Our recent peach creations have been much more memorable—delightful to eat and fun to make. One in particular—an old-fashioned peach cobbler—is a great hands-on project because it requires mixing and kneading homemade biscuit dough. This dough is placed on top of sweetened peaches and baked until the peaches are juicy and the topping is golden and flaky. Enjoy this classic with a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream for the ultimate summer dessert!
What You’ll Need
For the filling:
- 10 ripe peaches
- Butter (for the baking pan)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Juice of half a lemon
For the topping:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 tablespoons cold butter
- 6 tablespoons milk
What to Do
- Parent, peel the peaches yourself. Remove the pits and cut the peaches into thick slices—about 6 or 7 cups.Teachable Moment: Which states grow the most peaches?The top peach-producing states are: California, followed by South Carolina, and then Georgia. Georgia is known as the Peach State, and the peach is Georgia’s official state fruit.
- Let your helper butter an 8-inch square baking pan and spoon the peaches into the pan. Help her measure the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle them on top. Slice the lemon in half for her and let her squeeze the juice over the peaches. If there are any seeds, she can scoop them out.
- Preheat the oven to 425℉ while you and your assistant chef make the topping. Help him measure the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into a bowl and stir thoroughly with a spoon. Guide him while he uses a blunt knife to cut the butter into small pieces and scatter it over the flour mixture.
- Demonstrate how to make soft dough by working the butter into the mixture. (This will take a few minutes. When ready, the bits of butter should be about the size of peas and all the butter should be coated with flour.) Let your helper pour in the milk and stir the mixture until a soft dough forms.
- Help your child scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a large sheet of waxed or parchment paper coated with flour. She can use her hands to knead the dough 8 times until it just holds together. Show your helper how to pat out the dough so it is large enough to fit over the peaches. You can use a big spatula to transfer the dough.Teachable Moment: How can you tell the difference between a peach and a nectarine?They may be about the same size and color, but there is one big difference: peaches have a fuzzy coating and nectarines do not. Some think fuzz protects peaches from bugs and diseases, while others say it acts as a kind of sunscreen and slows the rate of moisture loss.
- Bake the cobbler for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream and enjoy.