“Peachy…” A favorite response of mine, in part because of its versatility which is not unlike the delectable fruit itself. During peach season, there’s nothing better than the simplicity of a perfectly ripe peach. Skin on or off...sliced or in hand for juicy and drippy bite after bite...it’s all wonderful if you ask me. So, whilst recently perusing GRIZZLY’s IG feed (never a good idea when you’re hungry) I spotted Stephen Satterfield’s sumptuous-looking cast iron peach cobbler and accompanying recipe written as only he can. The sweet dish and his story-telling made me hungry and got me thinking. When was the last time I baked a certain seasonal family favorite?
When I was born, my parents were living in and fixing up a farmhouse in rural south Jersey. My mother’s family had moved “to town” but the farm remained in the family and so wound up hosting the youngest members of the newest generation (for a few years anyway). The chickens, turkeys, pigs and other creatures had long been gone; soybeans and other crops hadn’t been bushelled and trucked to Cowtown for market in as many years...but the peach orchards across the road...they still stretched out and surrounded the farm for as far as the eyes could see.
I grew up hearing stories about my great grandmother’s peach pies. Years after she passed, family friends would still swear to the smell of phantom pies baking and glimpses of a woman (hair pulled back in a bun) breezing through the farmhouse towards the kitchen. I loved those stories...still do. I can’t cook, bake, buy or grow peaches without thinking of them. This nostalgia was felt so deeply as I re-read Stephen’s recipe. It prompted me to message and then call my mom and to pull out a well-worn handwritten recipe for “Carrie Murphy's peach pie”.
To my enjoyment but perhaps not surprise, I found that the two recipes (Stephen’s and my great-grandmother’s) were almost identical...almost. I suppose simple dishes (those delicious types of comfort food in particular) tend to be well-adopted and minimally adapted over the years. At the very least, their simplicity makes them easy and quite wonderful to return to, should they become overly embellished with time.
Full of gratitude, I made a few notes, continued listening to my mother recount childhood adventures with tractors, trucks and her very first job...picking peaches at that neighboring farm. Then, armed with all of the inspiration and new instruction to bake, I headed to my local farm stand for the star ingredient.
Stephen's recipe is below though I've paraphrased/abbreviated parts, and my additional notes are in peach (yup!).
400 degree oven
Remove skins from peaches (need 4-5 cups)
Put peaches in saucepan use a GRIZZLY Cast Iron 10" Skillet!my childhood was filled with memories of bubbling, searing, frying cast iron goodness. if my greats, grands, mom and aunt weren't baking sweets in them...well...they should've been ;)
Add ¼ cup sugar, water, & tablespoon of cornstarch
Pinch of cardamom & black pepper cardamom is pure magic with peaches. my great grandmother offered a few options with the spices, based on whatever was readily available. fresh nutmeg, cinnamon, and a few others were at the top of the list but this part is totally up for grabs. seriously though...the cardamom!
Add the blackberries an unfortunate kitchen mis-hap meant no blackberries this round. they weren’t the norm in Carrie’s peach pie, but I’m confident they’d be a delicious addition.
Cook until soft but not too soft (approx 20 minutes)
Biscuits or pie crust or crumble - if you get the dough sorted properly, you’ve got three good options!
Place sieve over a bowl
Add 1 cup flour, 1.5 tablespoon sugar and baking powder plus a pinch of salt since I’m GF, I just swapped in GF flour with the same measurements for perfect results and zero comments from my teenagers - winning all around
Shake the sieve
Add COLD butter (full stick) - grate it I placed the butter in the freezer for an hour before grating it and that trick worked like a charm
Use fingertips to add it until it’s pebbled.
Add ⅓ cup of milk and BAM - biscuit dough
Shape into squares I did a crumble instead
Place the biscuits on top of the peaches if you go the crumble route, just sprinkle the mixture evenly over the peaches