In our series Saving Southern Recipes, Associate Editor Kate Williams explores the deep heritage of Southern cooking through the lens of passed-down family recipes.
I grew up in a family of peach snobs. We'd track the season's progression through the summer, watching the peaches grow bigger, pinker, and cling less to their pits as time slipped by to August. All of the best peaches, we knew, came from Gaffney, South Carolina, home of the peach-shaped water tower, and producer of far better fruit than down here in the Peach State.
I'd snack on them out of hand, face over the kitchen sink, catching the drips snaking down my arms. Sometimes I'd peel and slice them, and add them into cereal and yogurt each morning, happy for those bursts of sweetness in every bite. But the best use of peaches, especially as they became larger and less sweet in late summer, was always in "Cuppa, Cuppa, Sticka."
This batter-based peach cobbler recipe came to my mom from a friend and fellow peach snob, and it was at least a biweekly treat in our house all summer long. Its cutesy name is basically the recipe: a cup of self-rising flour, a cup of milk, a stick of butter, plus loads of peaches and maybe some blueberries for color. The cobbler bakes up with a sweet, almost custardy center, and golden-brown, caramelized edges prized by all Cuppa Cuppa connoisseurs.
It is truly the best summertime dessert, and I'd be happy to debate anyone who feels otherwise.
I never thought to try and make it in March (being so far from prime peach season), but as it turns out, you can make a fine version of the cobbler all year long.
Southern Kitchen reader Liz Daney sent in a recipe for her grandfather's favorite peach cobbler last fall, and it wasn't until I started making it this week that I realized it was almost identical to my mother's Cuppa, Cuppa, Sticka.
"Even though my grandparents had a working farm, it was a lot of work from morning to night," Daney wrote in an email. "My grandmother always cooked a full 'dinner' in the middle of the day, with evening 'supper' basically leftovers and cold cornbread. But she almost ALWAYS had some kind of dessert."
Daney said that her grandfather loved this cobbler so much that her grandmother would make it "long after the peaches were picked" with their own canned peaches."He would often have this and a glass of cold milk from our milk cows just before he would go to bed."
Of course, most of us don't live on a farm and likely don't can our own peaches. This cobbler, however, is forgiving. You can absolutely use a large can of peaches straight from the grocery store shelf like I did — just be sure to pick up peaches canned in juice instead of heavy syrup. There's plenty of sugar in this dish already. You could also use frozen and thawed peaches, I'm sure, but the little bit of liquid added from the can creates a lovely sauce in the bottom of the baked cobbler, providing a cozy contrast of texture to the crisp edges.
Speaking of edges, make sure to get a corner scoop for your first serving. No matter where the peaches come from, it's still the best part.
Pantry Peach Cobbler
Note: This cobbler is great served warm or at room temperature. Top it with vanilla ice cream for a real treat. You can also mix in additional fruit, such as fresh or frozen and thawed blueberries, if you'd like.
Serves: 6 to 8
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Total time: About 1 hour
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 (29-ounce) can peaches in juice
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in an 8-inch square baking dish. Place in the oven to melt while the oven is heating.
Meanwhile, drain the peaches though a strainer set over a medium bowl. Discard half of the juice from the can, reserving the peaches and the remaining juice. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the milk to form a smooth batter.
Carefully remove the hot baking dish from the oven. Pour the batter into the butter in the dish, allowing the butter to lop over the sides of the batter. Pour the peaches and their remaining juices evenly over the batter; do not stir. Bake until deeply golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and sprinkle a little sugar over the top of the cobbler. Let cool for at least 10 minutes and serve.
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Photo Credit (Recipe Card): Liz Daney
Photo Credit (Cobbler): Kate Williams