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Oklahoma Table: Reach for a Peach

Sherrel Jones has news and information about this year's peach crop.
BY SHERREL JONES Published: July 10, 2013
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I still remember the beautiful aroma of bushels of peaches brought home from Stratford when I was growing up. My great aunts and cousins would make an annual pilgrimage to Stratford to stock up on peaches for canning, preserves and pies. Their kitchen and often their whole house carried that enticing peach aroma for days.

My mother went to great lengths when it came to our peach trees. Even though she was allergic to stings, mom started beekeeping to assure our trees were fully pollinated. We had plenty of peaches for the freezer, to spoon over ice cream and for pies and cobblers.

Susan Bergen, of Peach Crest Farm in Stratford, says they are a year away from having organic peaches. Their peaches are “slim pickins” this year, so they will wait out the season with plenty of other produce including some great cantaloupes very soon.

Cobbler time

When I think about peach desserts, I think of peach cobbler. I like it to be juicy with a flaky crust, not too sweet, and it absolutely has to have a big, peachy aroma. The truth is I like my peach cobbler warm, almost hot, as if it hasn't been out of the oven for long. Vanilla ice cream over the top sort of melting over that warm mound of cobbler in the bowl is the best. I wouldn't mind having it for breakfast at least once during peach season.

I've been experimenting with peach cobbler for a few years now, and I think you'll like the easy flaky crust and peach brandy-infused filling in this cobbler. Sometimes I roll out this crust onto a bed of thinly sliced almonds so that the bottom crust is crispy and almond-infused. I like to use peach preserves or jam along with the sliced peaches to intensify the flavor even more. If I want the filling even juicier, I add a small can of peach nectar to the mixture.

I hope you enjoy the peach season this year. If you get over to the Peach Barn or Livesay Orchards, tell the Livesay Family (Kent, Kyle, Bryan, Dawna and Steven) hello for me.

The Peach Barn has some wonderful peach fried pies and peach ice cream, along with peach smoothies, peach sundaes and peach muffins.

Pick up some of the Porter Peach Barbecue Sauce, peach salsa, peach jam and peach butter. All are guaranteed to make your summer peachier. Maybe I'll see you in Porter or at the Peach Barn.


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Oklahoma Peach Perfection Cobbler

Makes 1 cobbler to fill a 2- to 2½-quart casserole dish (about 12 servings)

PASTRY

1 (8-oz) package cream cheese (reduced-fat Highland works well)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (Highland, Braum's or Wagon Creek)

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups flour (Shawnee's Best All-Purpose)

¼ cup turbinado sugar (for sprinkling over top of crust before baking)

PEACH FILLING

4 pounds peaches (peeled after 1 minute boiling water bath & ice water plunge)

1 tablespoon Fruit Fresh or 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon or orange juice

½ cup sugar

2 to 4 tablespoons cornstarch (for thicker filling use 4 tablespoons)

½ cup peach jam (Livesay's Porter Peach Jam or Peach Crest Peach Jam)

¾ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon powdered ginger

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ cup peach brandy

1 (5.5 fluid ounce) can peach nectar

To make pastry, whip cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Beat in extract and salt. Add flour with mixer on low speed, blending just until mixture comes together. Form into a ball and flatten. Seal in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes until workable without sticking to hands. Cut dough in half; shape halves into rectangles or circles, depending on shape of baking dish. Roll out dough on floured surface about (3/16 of an inch thick) to fit into pan up sides and overlapping edge. Keep other half of dough in refrigerator while making filling.

To make filling, prepare peaches, cutting in half to remove pit. Make uniform slices or chunks. Place in large saucepan. Stir in juice to thoroughly coat peaches. Stir cornstarch and sugar together with spices then add to peaches. Stir well to coat. Add brandy and nectar. (Add additional nectar if extra liquid is desired.) Heat peaches over medium heat until liquid begins to boil and thicken slightly. Peaches will begin to soften. Remove from heat.

Arrange rack to middle of oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out remaining half of pastry, adding flour to work surface as needed. Cut in 1- to 1½-inch-wide strips for weaving if lattice top is desired. Pour filling into prepared crust up to ½- to ¾-inch from top edge of dish. Arrange strips over top, adding other strips over edge, and crimp as desired. Top may be covered entirely, pulling bottom crust over edge to seal and prevent boil over during baking. Sprinkle top of crust generously with turbinado sugar.

Place cobbler on foil- or silicone-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes then turn down oven to 350 degrees. Bake an additional 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown and done. (Filling already is cooked.)

Cooking notes: Brandy may be omitted. Make this cobbler your own using more or less of the spices, sugar or jam. I prefer less sugar and more peach flavor. Sometimes you may want to sprinkle thinly sliced almonds over the bottom of the baking dish. This crust is very workable and is great with most any pie. It is easy to master if you love rich puffy pastry. Regular sugar may be used if you cannot find the coarse-grained turbinado sugar for the top. Any leftover filling can be used as an ice cream topping or frozen for later use.

Source: Sherrel Jones. (Pastry is an adaptation of a recipe for Pecan Cups found in the “Stir-Ups” cookbook published by the Junior Welfare League of Enid in 1982.)

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