Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sparkling Peach Cobbler . . . with Prosecco, Ginger, and Honey

Okay, so you're probably thinking, "Ugh . . . yet another seasonal cobbler recipe. How original."

Am I right?

That's fine, I'm not offended. I've been around the baking-blog block a few times and I know the score. That said, however, I simply must impress upon you that there are peach cobbler recipes, and then there peach cobbler recipes. 

What do I mean? Well, let me ask you this: What do you get when you combine juicy ripe peaches, a buttery dough enhanced with a smidgen of candied ginger, and bubbly Prosecco, in a filling that's been augmented with a bit of citrus zest, fresh grated nutmeg, and honey? I'll tell you what you don't get. You don't get your grandma's dense, sugary, soggy-biscuit laden cobbler.

It really is, as they say, all in the flavor. Sparkling peach cobbler boasts flavors that are complex and  a little daring. They defy expectation, but do so delightfully. The cobbler has a bit of a bite, which is an element of surprise. I didn't necessarily expect my family to fully appreciate and enjoy such a nontraditional twist on a beloved and old fashioned dessert, but--lo and behold--they all did. This cobbler doesn't just defy taste expectations, it exceeds them.

Thank heaven that nice cold bottle of Prosecco in the fridge, procured a few weeks ago expressly for this recipe, was finally put to proper use. But, besides using the Prosecco, this cobbler served another purpose for me as well. Because my oven died immediately after I was finished producing the layers for the "Where the Wild Things Are" cake (and after 16 years of heavy use!) in my last post, I had to procure a new one and fast.

Happily, a glistening, stainless-steel, gas range was installed in our kitchen a few days ago, so the cobbler functioned as a suitable test case. That shiny piece of machinery took the cobbler on its maiden voyage into Fahrenheit Land and returned it to shore all golden brown and twinkling--a safe and successful voyage, one might say. There it is, pictured below. (Hear my sigh of baking contentment  . . . ?)

About this recipe . . .

I adapted this from a recipe for nectarine cobbler found in Sherry Yard's magnificent book, Desserts by the Yard. I adjusted the formula slightly by using Prosecco as an alternative to the pricier Champagne; by including a wee bit of chopped candied ginger in the pastry (Sherry advises leaving it out for this cobbler, but I thought it was a great touch used in moderation); by omitting the orange zest from the filling (I don't typically buy oranges this time of year, so I just used lemon zest); and by using about thirty percent more fruit than called for--mostly peaches instead of nectarines.

This is so good. You're gonna love it.

Sparkling Peach Cobbler

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

For the dough (make this first):

1 and 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour, plus 6 Tbsp. for dusting
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2'' chunks and frozen for 15 minutes
1 egg, large
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. crystallized (candied) ginger, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten with 1 yolk, for the egg wash

In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the 1 and 1/2 cups flour, the sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Using the paddle attachment, add in the frozen butter chunks and mix for 1 to 2 minutes on low speed, until the butter is broken into large lumps that you can see. Stop the mixer. With your thumb and index finger, flatten any round lumps.

Beat again for 30 seconds. (The butter pieces should look like "flattened walnut pieces," per Sherry Yard's advice.)

In another bowl, whisk together the heavy cream and the egg.

Pour this into the dry ingredients, along with the chopped candied ginger. Turn the mixer on for several more seconds, just to combine.

Place a generous sheet of parchment paper on your work surface and dust it with a couple tablespoons of flour. Plop the dough onto it.

The dough should be tacky and crumbly when you dump it from the bowl (mine was much more sticky than tacky, so I was liberal with the flour once I got it onto the work surface). Now you'll begin a very simple version of the "3-fold" process. Don't panic.

To form the dough into a square that's 1" thick all over, use the edges of the parchment, bringing them up and over to press the dough into this shape. Peel the parchment back.

Dust the top of the dough with another tablespoon of flour, and flip it over. Gently press it into an even rectangle that's 6" x 8". It should be 1" thick all over.

Using the side of your hand, positioned parallel to the bottom edge of dough, make a crease through the middle. Just make an impression--you don't need to push down too much.

Using the paper to lift the dough, fold it over right at the crease. Peel back the paper again, and dust the top with 1 tablespoon of flour.

Press the dough out again, just like before, and turn it in front of you 90 degrees. Make a crease again, just like before, and fold and turn the dough again. Lightly dust the top with 1 tablespoon of flour. Crease, fold, and turn one final time.

At this point, the dough will be a relatively uniform block. Dust it with 1 more tablespoon of flour, and roll it out gently (with a rolling pin) into a rectangle that's 6" x 8" and that's 1" thick all over.

Wrap the dough in plastic and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes (At this point, I slid my dough, still on the parchment, onto the back of a little sheet pan, then covered it with plastic, and sort of folded the extra parchment up over it; I didn't want to have to overhandle it at this point. I slid the pan with the dough on it into the freezer.)

While the dough is chilling, prepare the filling.

For the filling:

1/4 cup All-Purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar, or more depending upon the tartness of your fruit
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
1 and 1/2 cups Prosecco (Note: if you prefer your cobbler with less liquid overall, I suggest you reduce this amount by one third; my cobbler had quite a lot of liquid.)
1/4 to 1/2 cup honey (take into account how much sugar you've used and how sweet your fruit is; adjust accordingly in deciding how much honey to use)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
8 large ripe peaches (or nectarines, or a combo), pitted, unpeeled (yes, unpeeled--unless you hate the peel), and sliced into eighths
1 egg, beaten with 1 egg yolk, to use for the egg wash
About 1/4 cup granulated sugar to use for dusting

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Prepare one large baking dish (12" x 12", or 9" x 13") or two smaller dishes (I used one 8" x 8" glass dish and one ceramic quiche dish). Butter the baking dish and dust it with 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. 

Combine by hand, in a large bowl, the flour, sugar, nutmeg, and lemon zest. 

Whisk in the Prosecco. Heat the honey just until warm and easily pourable; stir it into the mixture. 

Stir in the lemon juice. Add in all of the peaches and toss everything together until the fruit is well coated. Scrape all of this into your prepared pan(s). 

Take the dough from the freezer and, using a very sharp knife, cut it into diamond shapes. 

Arrange the diamond pieces over the filling. Brush the dough with egg wash, then sprinkle generously with sugar. 

Immediately put the pan(s) in the preheated oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and the dough is a nice golden brown. (Expect juicy dripping during baking and use foil or a baking sheet beneath the dishes to prevent a mess in your oven; I did this when it was almost too late!)

This stuff's utterly delicious on its own, but also heavenly with a little unsweetened whipped cream on top.

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