Edna Lewis’ Fresh Peach Cobbler with Nutmeg Sauce

Desserts, Pie, Southern, Summer / Friday, July 17th, 2009


Experiencing the power of the peach with Honey-Peach Ice Cream and Sweet Peach Muffins is like squinting at an eclipse through a hole in a shoebox.

To taste the full, unbridled, goshamighty all-powerful flavor of the summer peach, there must be cobbler.

Sweet, buttery, bubbling peach cobbler.

This is Edna Lewis‘ Fresh Peach Cobbler. Seven sliced peaches sprinkled with sugar and swaddled in buttery pastry with – OK, take a deep breath – 1 1/2 sticks of butter.

Judge harshly, if you must, but my solution was to break up the cobbler with a spoon (instead of cutting slices) and take it to our family reunion. Anything with that much buttery goodness is meant for sharing.

I love the old-fashioned simplicity of this dessert, but I strongly urge you to complicate it mightily with a big scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream.

Sweet goodness, it’s blackout good. Although that might be all the butter.

Fresh Peach Cobbler

Adapted from Edna Lewis’ “In Pursuit of Flavor”

  • Butter Pie Pastry (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 7 large peaches
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  1. Roll out half the pie dough, and press into an 8-inch pie dish that is 2 inches deep. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar and refrigerate.
  2. Roll out the rest of the pie dough, and cut into 8 strips for a lattice top. Lay the strips between wax paper and refrigerate.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  4. Peel and slice the peaches. Sprinkle half of the remaining sugar over the pie crust, and lay the sliced peaches in the pie plate. Mound the last few slices in the center. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar over the fruit and dot with thin slices of butter. Weave the pastry strips over the fruit, four going one way and four the other. Moisten the rim of the pie with cold water, and press the strips down to seal.
  5. Set the cobbler on the middle rack of the oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 425 degrees F, and bake for another 35 minutes. Let the cobbler cool for about 30 minutes before serving.

Butter Pie Pastry

Makes enough for a double crust

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Scant teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) firmly chilled or frozen unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  1. Put the flour, salt and butter in a mixing bowl. Blend well with a pastry blender or the tips of your fingers, until the mixture is the texture of cornmeal.
  2. Add the ice water, mix quickly, and shape the dough into a ball.
  3. Dust the dough lightly with flour and shape into a flat cake. Wrap in wax paper, and put in the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes.

Nutmeg Sauce

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 2-inch piece dried orange peel
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  1. To Dry the Orange Peel: Peel an orange. (Set aside the fruit to eat later.) Scrape the white pith from the peel. Place the peel on a wire rack, and let it sit for several days at room temperature, until the peel completely dries out. It can keep for weeks in a covered jar.
  2. In a small saucepan, mix together the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and nutmeg.
  3. Stir in the boiling water.
  4. Add the orange peel, and keep the mixture gently boiling over medium heat for 12 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, and stir in the brandy.
  6. Cover the pan, and set aside.
  7. When you’re ready to serve the sauce, reheat it over low heat. (Don’t let it come to a boil.) Remove the orange peel before serving.

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36 thoughts on “Edna Lewis’ Fresh Peach Cobbler with Nutmeg Sauce

  1. I keep staring at this photo wishing somehow it was really right in front of me so I could eat it. Thank you, I will buy some peaches and make this soon.

  2. I have seen so many cobblers on foodgawker and other sites, and i have finally found the cobbler I've been wanting. THIS ONE! The crust looks just like how I have envisioned it in my head. YUM!

  3. We bought a ton of peaches last week and my husband refused to let me bake with them. He said I'd ruin them!

    Little did he know I could have made him this.

  4. Beautiful cobbler! I love old fashioned, buttery deserts as well. Sharing them makes them even more special and delicious. Yum!

  5. I was sitting here trying to decide whether to go to the Farmer's Market today. This sealed the deal – someone had better have peaches.

  6. This is how my great-grandmother (and all the great cooks in my family since her) made her peach cobbler, which is our family's absolute favorite dessert!! This looks perfect – it's so nice to finally see a cobbler with a lattice top instead of biscuit topping (yuck.)!!! Beautiful!!


    1. I grew up with the lattice-top cobbler, too. Mention a biscuit topping to my grandmother, and she will give you an earful! Peach cobbler is my favorite dessert, too. It has everything going on that is blessed and good. ;)

    2. This does look delicious. Cobbler? No. Ref: Irma and Marion in Joy of Cooking. Like the holes?, spoon the stiff batter on leaving some filling exposed. Second difference btw cobblers and lattice-top pies is that cobbler fruit is precooked on the stovetop. This and the top-only crust reduces baking time during hot weather.

  7. Beautiful. I can almost taste the peaches (and the butter). Edna Lewis is without peers, and this is one of my favorite cookbooks. Great choice!

  8. That looks like peach pie but from the sounds of it who really cares.

    Btw, butter and lots of it only makes it better.

  9. Paula D. has nothing on Edna. I've always thought Paula used butter just for the sake of using it (and for shock factor), but with Edna, there's a real purpose for it. Your pie is lovely.

    1. Thanks! I hadn't thought about the difference between the two, but I think you're right. Miss Lewis' recipes tend to rely on fresh, seasonal ingredients and don't have much shock value. Paula makes a lot of things you'd find in a women's club cookbook. Totally different schools.

  10. I love Edna Lewis recipes that cobbler is beautiful. just found your site through twitter. I will start to follow your blog. I hope you can check mine out as well.

    1. I'm so glad you posted! I just bookmarked your site – as soon as I saw that headline about cast-iron skillets. I don't know how I ever cooked without them. Now, they're sort of an obsession.

  11. This is a pie. A cobbler has a cobbled crust– hence the name. But it does look like a delicious pie! Yum!

    1. I had the same question about this recipe, but according to Cook's Illustrated's "Baking Illustrated," a cobbler is "fruit topped with a crust, which can be made from cookie dough, pie pastry or biscuit topping, and baked."

      Lattice top cobblers are very common here. Maybe it's a regional preference.

  12. So what is the difference between peach pie and peach cobbler?? They both use a pie crust recipe…can you enlighten me? It's something I've always wondered about and never found the answer to.

  13. […] here in the US and b) it’s a Julia Child recipe. Meanwhile, I fancy a crack at this fresh peach cobbler from an Edna Lewis recipe, served up by Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake. Man, that’s a lot of butter […]

    1. Caitlin: My mother sometimes made two pies, it was easier for her to roll crusts out together. One was baked, the other frozen for up to a month or so. The 2nd crust was sometimes a bit soggy. You can also deep-freeze the peeled, sliced peaches in sugar-pack or syrup. See the Ball Blue Book for freezing and canning directions.

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