Last summer my husband and I spent a few days in Seattle with friends. Because it was my husband’s first time, we did touristy things including a trip to the Space Needle, Sculpture Park, Capitol Hill and Pike Place Market. And of course, we ate.
While in Seattle, we ventured to a tiny spot in the Ballard neighborhood called The Walrus and the Carpenter. It was my second time to the restaurant named for a Lewis Carroll short story. The focus at ‘The Walrus’ consists of well crafted cocktails, oysters and small dishes composed mainly of things plucked from local waters.
As we were waiting to be seated, I picked up a copy of chef/owner Renee Erickson’s cookbook and thumbed through the pages. A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus opens with a beautiful photo of a small boat moored on what looks like Seattle’s Puget Sound. I knew I wanted to see more of this beautifully photographed cookbook when I could give it my full attention.
Lucky for me, A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus is in circulation in the Portland library system. I placed a hold on the book, and in a week, I was carefully leafing through the pages on the comfort of my couch. The book is much more than a collection of recipes from the restaurant, which is kind of what I was hoping for. As I continued to read, I appreciated the restauranteur’s personality and warmth that spilled from the pages. She combines inspiring and accessible recipes. And the photography is simply delicious.
I was drawn to the peach cobbler recipe for two reasons. I love peaches, and it’s summer, the height of amazing peaches. I’ve made quite a few peach cobblers, and after making this version, this is my new go-to recipe.
My kitchen notes
The technique of pouring hot water to melt the sugar into the cobbler topping is genius. It creates a nice crackled, candy-like crust.
Resist the urge to peel the peaches. Leaving them unpeeled gives the dessert a rustic feel, and a gorgeous color.
Peach Cobbler – Adapted from A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus
10 large peaches (about 4 1/2 pounds) unpeeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup hot tap water
Heavy cream or ice cream for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Put the peaches in a 9×13 baking pan. Pat the peaches into a roughly even layer, then, using a zester or Microplane, zest the lemon evenly over the fruit and squeeze the lemon juice evenly over the top.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat again for another 30 seconds, until all the flour is incorporated and the mixture is evenly crumbly.
4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the milk. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
5. Plop the batter in large blobs over the top of the peaches. With a small knife, carefully spread the batter evenly over the fruit, so it’s no more than about 1/2 inch thick in any one place.
6. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar directly over the batter. Drizzle the hot water evenly over the sugar, using it to melt the sugar into the topping. Use the entire 1/2 cup of water. It’s a strange method, but it works.
7. Bake the cobbler for 70 to 80 minutes, or until the top is browned and cracked. A toothpick inserted into the topping should come out dry. Be sure to check in a few places.
8. Let the cobbler sit for about 30 minutes to firm up before serving warm in big bowls with whipped cream or ice cream.