Cobblers celebrate ripe, juicy fruit of all kinds. No amount of sugar will improve the flavor of hard, out-of-season fruits, so wait until you have the perfect specimens before you make a cobbler. Arguably, peaches make the best cobbler of all, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream makes a good thing even better.
5 lbs. peaches
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbs. cornstarch
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
6 Tbs. unsalted butter
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Have ready a bowl of ice water.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. A few at a time, plunge the peaches into the boiling water just until the skins loosen, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the bowl of ice water. Peel, pit and slice the peaches; you should have about 12 cups.
In a bowl, toss together the peaches, brown sugar and cornstarch. Spread in the prepared baking dish, place the dish on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, egg and vanilla until well blended. In another bowl, sift together the flour, the 1/4 cup granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into tablespoons and scatter over the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture just until the mixture forms coarse crumbs the size of peas. Add the half-and-half mixture and stir just until the dough comes together.
When the filling has baked for 15 minutes, remove it from the oven. Drop the dough onto the filling in 8 heaping, evenly spaced spoonfuls. Return to the oven and bake until the peach juices are bubbling, the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes more.
Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes, then serve. Serves 8.
Variation: Make your cobbler with 12 cups of your favorite fruit, adjusting the amount of sugar depending on the tartness of the fruit. Try blueberries, raspberries and blackberries (don’t use strawberries because they lose their color when baked); pitted sour cherries; peeled and pitted plums or peeled, cored and sliced apples or pears.