Peach cobbler is the perfect sharable summer dessert. Fresh ripe stone fruit filling topped with a tender biscuit crust. An irresistible sweet treat, especially when served with a big scoop of ice cream!
Making peach cobbler from scratch is easy!
With the abundance of stone fruit at the market during the warm seasons, it’s time to turn a plain peach into a stunning, yet easy dessert. Ripe and juicy peaches make the perfect filling for a baked fruit cobbler. If you’re a fan of strawberry shortcake, this dessert takes that concept to the next level!
Crisp golden-brown biscuits are baked right on top of the caramelized peaches. Just wait until you see the family and friends’ eyes light up and jaws drop when this hot and bubbling peach cobbler hits the table. Grab a big spoon and serve each slice with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or a generous dollop of whipped cream. It’s worth the time and effort.
Fresh peach selection
The peak season to indulge in peaches is between June to September. For this recipe, I use freestone yellow peaches, which have a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. You can also use white peaches which are sweeter as they contain less acid.
When selecting, you want the flesh to feel firm with a little give when lightly pressed, but not too soft that it easily crushes. If the flesh is very firm, you’ll want to let them ripen more as the taste will be bland.
Using frozen peaches
As a quick substitute, you can use frozen peaches instead of fresh fruit. They don’t need to be defrosted first, just toss with the flour, spices, and they’ll warm up probably during the precooking step before adding on the biscuit topping. This gives a little more time to defrost and soften.
What about using canned peaches?
Yes, canned peaches are a convenient swap, but just note that there will be some texture differences. During the processing of the fruit, it’s already been cooked and treated with firming agents like calcium salts (typically calcium hydroxide or calcium pectate) to keep the flesh firm [Source].
That’s why they don’t lose their shape. Canned peaches make for a more pronounced bite with less liquidy sauce because most of the moisture has already been released during the canning process. I recommend using 2 tablespoons of flour to account for less water in the filling for thickening. You can always increase if you like it thicker.
Two peeling methods
- For firm peaches, a quick and easy way to remove the skin is to use a Y-Peeler.
- For softer peaches use the blanch and shock method. A quick boil in water releases the skin from the flesh then the ice water bath cools the fruit down immediately so they don’t cook. Now you can easily remove the skin with your fingers.
Pre-cook the peach filling
Fresh peaches contain a lot of moisture. As they cook in the baking dish, water releases and the flesh softens as the pectin in their cell walls breaks down. Adding flour and brown sugar helps thicken the juices into luscious syrup-like consistency for the filling.
Letting the peaches precook before the biscuit topping allows the liquid to simmer faster, for effective thickening. Some of the moisture also evaporates which avoids a runny mess when serving slices. The warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger at this step infuse into the fruit and develop enticing aromas. Make sure to add a small amount of lemon juice to also enhance the sweetness and elevate the flavors.
Common types of cobbler crusts
There are various ways to top the fruit filling. Cobblers can be made using a cake batter with the fruit baked inside like a buckle, or a Southern-style pie crust laid on top, or thick mounds of sticky drop biscuits. This recipe yields a biscuit-style crust that is light and fluffy on the inside with a crispy browned surface.
To achieve this, we start by making a dough similar to classic biscuits, but with sugar and more buttermilk to get a cakey, domed structure. Flour is combined with sugar, two leavening agents (baking powder and baking soda), and salt. Cold butter is broken into the flour mixture. This will help keep the dough pebbly and lifted, instead of flat.
After adding the buttermilk, the consistency will be like a really thick cake batter. These drop-style biscuits taste light and airy with a coarse crumb. I like to sprinkle extra sugar, cinnamon, and ginger on top right before baking for an extra punch of flavor and more attractive crust.
Cool before serving
I know it’s extremely difficult to not want to dig in right away, but patience will pay off. Letting the peach cobbler cool down a bit helps the juices thicken. This also gives the spices more time to infuse into the filling and allows the peaches to slightly firm up again which improves the overall texture.
The difference between a cobbler and a crisp
The baked fruit filling is similar, however, the main difference comes down to the toppings. A cobbler has either a thick drop biscuit, a cake batter, or pie crust. A crisp is crunchier and typically contains flour, sugar, rolled oats, and sometimes nuts. If the latter sounds interesting to you, then give my delicious peach crisp a try.
Can you make this dessert ahead of time?
The peaches can be sliced and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator 1 day in advance. Wait to add the flour, sugar, and spices. It’s best not to make the biscuit dough ahead of time so that the leavening agents give the best rise. The cobbler can be baked, cooled, and refrigerated for up to 2 days then reheated in a 375ºF (191ºC) oven until warmed through.
How to ripen fresh peaches
Place the peaches in a paper bag and close. Fruit contains a natural hormone called ethylene gas which helps them ripen when emitted. When enclosed in the bag, the gas becomes trapped and softens the flesh faster. The paper allows air to gradually move in and out which prevents condensation that causes molding. For even faster ripening, add a banana to the bag.
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- 1 tablespoon butter, softened, to grease baking pan
- 4 pounds peaches, about 8 large, 8-cups sliced
- ⅓ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- Set the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat to 425ºF (218ºC).
- Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with softened butter.
- Remove the skin from the peaches using a hand peeler. Alternatively, for soft peaches that are hard to peel, use the blanch and shock method. Cut a shallow 2-inch wide “X” on the bottoms. Submerge one to two peaches at a time in boiling water until the skin starts to separate from the flesh, about 10 to 20 seconds. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water and cool for 1 minute then use your fingers to remove the skin.
- Cut the peaches into ½-inch thick wedges and transfer to a large mixing bowl. This should yield about 8 cups of sliced peaches. Add brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nutmeg. Stir to combine.
- Spread the peach filling evenly in the baking dish. Bake until the filling starts to bubble and lightly thicken, 15 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven.
- In a medium bowl whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Toss the cold cubed butter into the flour mixture. Use fingers to break into small pieces until the mixture resembles cornmeal or wet send. Stir in the buttermilk, the topping will be wet and look like a very thick cake batter.
- Drop about 2 tablespoon-sized mounds evenly on top of the peach filling, about 12 mounds. In a small bowl combine granulated sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Evenly sprinkle over the topping and filling.
- Bake until the topping is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Cool the cobbler for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. This will allow the filling to thicken. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream if desired.
- For a sweeter filling: Add ½ cup of brown sugar instead of ⅓ cup.
- For a thinner filling: Use 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour.
- Using frozen peaches: Do not defrost. Follow all directions, except cook the peaches in the oven for 20 minutes before adding the topping.
- Using canned peaches: Use 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour since there will be less moisture for thickening. Increase to 1/4 up if needed.
- Slice peach quantity: Use 8 cups of sliced peaches for the recipe.
- Make ahead: The peaches can be peeled and sliced 1 day ahead. Bake, cool and refrigerate the cobbler for up to 2 days.
- Reheating: Bake in a 375ºF (191ºC) oven until the filling and biscuit topping is warm, about 15 to 25 minutes. This varies depending on if you are reheating the entire baking dish or just a small portion. Reheat individual portions in the microwave in 30-second intervals on high power, 60 to 90 seconds.
- You can leave the skin on: Although the thin fuzzy fibrous skin will make it a little tougher to chew.
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