Mrs. Smith’s Southern Peach Cobbler

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    10 to 12

    servings

Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

Forget most of what you’ve heard about Georgia peaches. Yes, Georgia peaches are certainly far superior to the pulpy, bitter peaches they grow in California, but where I go for sweet peach perfection is to the South Carolina Piedmont region, intersected by Interstate 77, and, more specifically, to The Peach Tree and other orchards in and around Filbert. Peach fanatics from as far away as Pennsylvania and Kentucky flock to The Peach Tree every summer to see and smell and taste the luscious Early Belles, White Ladies, Lorings, and Indian Red clings, and owner Ben Smith and his wife, Merwyn, actually mail out periodic picking schedules to regular customers. Who better to ask how to make the best Southern peach cobbler than Mrs. Smith herself, who seems to have a new version each year? When I told her about my most recent idea of adding a couple of ripe mangoes and some almond extract to the peaches in my cobbler, her candid reaction was, “Then, of course, it’s no longer a real peach cobbler—but why not?” If you would like to try my sublime variation, simply substitute two peeled and cut-up ripe mangoes for a pound of the peaches and add ½ teaspoon almond extract to the sugared mixture.

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds ripe Southern peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
  • cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Vanilla ice cream

Method

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 3- to 3½-quart baking dish with butter and set aide.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the peaches and cups of the sugar and toss well. Spoon the fruit into the prepared baking dish and dot the top with the butter.

Into a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, then cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter or two knives till the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the cream and stir till the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, roll out ¼ inch thick, and trim as necessary to fit the baking dish. Place the dough over the fruit, crimp the edges, and bake till the pastry is golden brown and the peaches are still slightly juicy, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a rack and let the cobbler cool for about 10 minutes, then serve warm topped with ice cream.