Saturday, September 8, 2012

Labor Day Desserts

I went to a barbecue over Labor Day weekend and volunteered to make dessert.

One of my neighbors has an overabundant peach tree, and was kind enough to give me several pounds of beautiful ripe fruit while it was in season.  My favorite thing to do with excess peaches is to cook them into cobbler filling (add a squeeze of lemon juice, a bit of sugar, and some cornstarch, simmer for about five minutes) and then jar them for later use.  You can have a taste of summertime even in the middle of a freezing winter!

The real genius of this cobbler recipe, though, is the crust.  I use a recipe published in Gourmet Magazine (dear, departed, well-beloved Gourmet Magazine!) in the early 1990s.  It was the first cobbler I learned to make, and though I've tried other versions, none has approached this one in texture, flavor, or ease of preparation.  The secret:

The crust is made with whipped cream.  No butter, no shortening -- just heavy cream that has been whipped to stiff peaks.  Fold it delicately into the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder) and you're done.  It comes out beautifully light and fluffy.  It also works beautifully for making sweet biscuits or strawberry shortcake.

I normally use all-purpose flour for this, but when I went to the grocery store they had run out of my preferred unbleached AP. This is King Arthur's "white whole wheat" -- it is, as you can see, darker and wheatier than AP, but light enough for baking and very tasty.  It is also drier and heartier than AP so I had to use extra cream to get the texture right.
hot out of the oven

There was a last-minute request for a gluten-free dessert, so I also whipped up a simple but delicious fruit crisp:

Sliced plums and blueberries tossed with raw sugar, ground ginger, cinnamon
Topping: rolled oats, ground almonds, ground walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, melted butter

The finished products!  Both served with vanilla ice cream.