The Great Gatsby and Peach Cobbler: Two American Classics

Stay with me, please,  for a minute here while I rant go on a long and winding tangent about cobbler.

I wrote in my last and panicky post about not having taken full advantage, yet, of the diminishing bounty of summer.  Peach cobbler was one of my regrets, so, needless to say, I’ve been making it, somewhat obsessively, this past week.

I made the first one, a classic cobbler, which shall be known here as Great Gatsby Peach Cobbler, for Barb’s “Great Gatsby Book Club Party”.  Not all of our book clubs are parties, most are civilized Sunday afternoon affairs, but this one was indeed a Saturday night party.  And, Barb, well, I’m not exaggerating when I say that this girl can throw a party (and has one elegant pad to host it in I might add).

Nine local members, and our Cleveland member (the charm and loveliness that is Evelyn!) were present and there was lots of catching up indeed on this first chilly Saturday evening in September.

There were also highballs and gin and tonics, smoked salmon canapés and deviled eggs, beef tenderloin with a delectably tangy homemade horseradish sauce and rosemary mashed potatoes, all meant to one way or another evoke the 1920’s.  And then there was the Peach Cobbler, maybe not so elegant but most definitely an American classic.  Like Gatsby himself.  And if I may further tangent (of course I may, this is my blog!), Barb’s choice of The Great Gatsby was another one of those book club magical coincidences I’ve been mentioning.  I purchased it at Shakespeare and Company in July, having no idea that Barb was just about to pick it, because I wanted to reread it before the Baz Luhrmann/Leonardo DiCaprio remake was released (now moved to next summer so they can “perfect the soundtrack”, does that sound fishy?), which is incidentally why Barb picked it.  Great minds think alike.  Even if you don’t have a book club, a Great Gatsby party would be a fun change of pace indeed. Try it.

Back to cobbler. While the peach cobbler was certainly enjoyed by all, I realized that we had just done had the peachy dessert to end all peachy desserts at Wendy’s book club three weeks earlier.  An oversight on my part when I announced what I would be bringing.  The very next day, I was paging through a month-old Bon Appétit (my cookbooks are getting jealous) and came upon this recipe, for a Blueberry Drop Biscuit Cobbler.  Gosh darnit!  Why didn’t I make that one for book club? Barb graciously reminded me that we had salad with blueberries so that may have been a tad too many blueberries for one evening.

Which leads me to…cooking with Barb night.  Friday night.  Chez elle. The menu was sort of a “farewell to summer” theme.  I did an Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta and the aforementioned cobbler (we still had the ice cream leftover from book club-bonus!) as well as an Avocado Kale and Arugula Salad fresh from my dad’s garden.  Barb did a Corn Risotto, the Pioneer Woman’s Rosemary Dinner Rolls,and we grilled some Apple Calvados Chicken Sausages (the menu’s one nod to fall).  Maeve brought the Skinny Girl Rosé which to our astonishment is just rosé.  A decent one, but nothin’ “skinny” about it (tangent within a tangent alert!).  Which frankly is fine by us but led us to wax on about Bethany Frankel’s brilliant marketing skills.

Which leads me to tonight.  While both versions of the cobbler were worth eating any day of the week, I still wanted perfection.  So I combined the two ideas and made the ultimate Peach Cobbler with Drop Biscuit Crumble Topping.  I was on a mission indeed and finally arrived where I wanted to be.  There, I’m done with cobbler for the year.  I can finally rest easy.  And you, too, can relax now. This post is finally over (but make yo’self some cobbler before summer’s over too!)

Serves 8. Adapted from 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know, by Cindy Levine 2011, and Bon Appétit, August 2012.

For the filling

  • 8-10 ripe peaches, halved, pitted and cut into 1/8 inch slices
  • 1/3 cup sugar plus 1 Tbsp. for dusting
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°.

Mix ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

For the biscuit crumb topping

  • 1 & 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp. crème fraîche (or sour cream)

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Add butter and mix lightly with your fingers until dough resembles a coarse biscuit mixture.  Fold in crème fraîche or sour cream and knead about 5-7 times until the mixture forms a loose ball.  You may need to use your hands just to fold in the thick cream but avoid overmixing, which would make the dough tough.

Place peach mixture in a 8″ x 8″ casserole dish.  Tear smallish pieces from the biscuit dough and scatter over top of peaches.  You do not need to cover the peaches completely.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until biscuit topping is brown and cooked through.  Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. sugar.  Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.  Serve with ice cream.

For the Great Gatsby Classic topping, follow all directions above for peach filling and recipe below for the topping.  Use a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Add buttermilk (or milk) and melted (cooled) butter. Mix until just combined and spread in dollops over the peach topping.  Bake for 25-35 minutes in a 400° oven, or until topping is golden and set.  Sprinkle 1 tsp. sugar on top.

Cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Alternatively, make either with blueberries.  Here’s the link for the original inspiration. And while we’re at it, how about the Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Cobblerpourquoi pas?

Bon appétit tout le monde!

ps. And why don’t you reread The Great Gatsby while you’re at it.  It’s always a joy to revisit a classic!


About Liza M.

foodie, francophile, Ann Arborite, teacher, bookworm and self-professed latte-lover--come cook with me!
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15 Responses to The Great Gatsby and Peach Cobbler: Two American Classics

  1. Barb says:

    What a lovely night it was! Thank you for your kind words for myself and our fair Evelyn. Always such a fun addition to the festivities.

  2. La Torontoise says:

    Liza, is there a way to use any kind of healthy and neutral oil instead of butter (maybe a canola oil)? Or butter plays a key role and is absolutely necessary?
    Also, I could imagine, I would sprinkle on some cinnamon powder (just before serving) for a little prettiness and colour. Would it be a good idea?

    • Liza M. says:

      Hmmm…I will have to look into that. I always feel the same way when I see a recipe that includes vegetable shortening or lard. I’d rather go a healthier route. However, at least the butter I used is organic! Remember, you’re only eating a bit of the biscuit crust at a time so it doesn’t include all that much butter per serving. But I shall investigate a topping used with vegetable oil.

      • La Torontoise says:

        Liza, like you, I use organic butter when it’s a must-have ingredient, but I also see people in the South of France use olive oil for virtually everything (incl sweet stuff:-) and it tastes good…
        Anyway, if you hear of an interesting topping with oil, I’d like to know.

  3. La Torontoise says:

    Just a quick question: is this the original recipe from Bon Appetit (please see the link below)?

    Because this one is dated 2011, I thought you meant another recipe.

    Also, this one makes around 700 Calories per serving…so, I’d better think twice:-)

  4. Liza M. says:

    Nope. The original is from a cookbook I have, 101 Recipes Every Woman Should Know (I’ll link the book on the blog). Wow, that is a lot of calories. I hope mine’s not that many!

  5. La Torontoise says:

    Liza, thank you!

  6. La Torontoise says:

    Liza, I am in Chicago now, enjoying the deep dish pizza and the local steaks:-)
    And I saw what kosher salt is like. I understand from the cook in one of the downtown restaurants that kosher salt is much more forgiving and you run much less risk of over-salting a dish (as the usual table salt is much *saltier* than kosher salt). Would love to try this ingredient.

    • Liza M. says:

      Yes, I would agree. Honestly, I hardly ever use table salt anymore. I have some Camargue sea salt and some Himilayan pink salt, but really, it’s the kosher salt that I reach for again and again. Also, Chicago!? My you get around. I adore Chicago! Anyplace you really enjoyed eating? One of my mainstays, Bistro 110, recently closed. 😦

  7. La Torontoise says:

    Liza, thank you for asking. I’m on a conference and I got two recommendations from the organizers (the university of Chicago):
    a) for the best deep dish pizza in town, it is Giordano’s:
    This place is an institution in itself (it’s like those old restaurants in Paris, with their own history and atmosphere). Loved it, service is attentive, very efficient and friendly. They seem to have processes for virtually everything that may happen to a client.
    The smallest pizza size is more than enough for 2 people.
    It comes with 2 toppings (tomatoes and cheese) on it and you can add as many to them as you wish.
    There are many locations of this restaurant; the nearest my hotel was at 730 N. Rush St, ver close to the Magnificient Mile (Michigan Ave).

    b) for meditarranean fare (cheeses and wine), it is the Purple Pig:

    This is just next to my hotel (Marriott Downtown). Busy place, wating time for a table is 2 hours. Servers busily running around: work looks very hectic. Great cheese choices. Roasted artichoke salad with rabbit pieces was very delicious.
    One Wine is overpriced. A glass costs more than a main dish and that’s the essence of their business model. Too bad I realized this only after I got the check.
    Would have liked to be given the wine card and get informed in advance.

    Also, before leaving to Chicago, I browsed the Michelin guide (there is a 2012 edition for Chicago restaurants) and booked these places:
    1) Naha, it became my favourite:
    Had lunch there twice; for $56, could enjoy three courses and a glass of French wine (Cote du Rone). Consistently good service.Food exceeded my expectations. Enjoyed every piece of it. The cook makes interesting combinations of salty and sweet ingredients and the result is magnificient. Subtle blend of flavours. For example, ice-cream with olive iol flavour, in a bed of roasted figs.

    You can make an online booking for a lunch/dinner at your prefered hour.

    2) The steakhouse Keefer’s:
    Impecable service, georgeous meals. Though, main dishes are pricey (I mean, it’s well spent money for the unique experience you get, but it’s not a place for multiple visits if you have a budget just like me right now).

    That’s all I managed to sample (for the rest of the time I just attended event dinners as it was included in the conf fee).

    In any case, I love Chicago, would like to come back with my family!

    • Liza M. says:

      I am absolutely drooling now (and in desperate need of a short getaway!). I like that these recommendations are here on the blog. Next time I head to Chicago (a mere 3 hours away from Ann Arbor), I’ll reread these recommendations. Merci!

      • La Torontoise says:

        Liza, you are very welcome! Glad you liked it. I realize only now Ann Arbor is so close to Chicago. That’s indeed a great getaway place… So many cultural events and things to do. A kind of missing it now…

        All the best, Maya.

  8. Cynthiana says:

    Never been impressed with skinny girl or pioneer woman…glad you had better luck! And Chicago is at least 4, more often its 5 hours from Ann Arbor.

  9. Liza M. says:

    Cynthia, I always count the time change when heading to Chicago. Leave at 4, get there by 7 (Chicago time)! I know, it’s my own math. I usually go at night to avoid traffic, therefore 4 hours (tops). Point is, I don’t go enough.

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