eight or nine fresh peaches, peeled
two sticks of butter, more or less
biscuit dough (your own recipe or Bisquick)
one cup all purpose flour, more or less
one cup granulated sugar, more or less
three jiggers Peach liqueur or one skinny jigger Bourbon whiskey
pinch of salt, more or less
This is a variation on my Aunt Gracie’s recipe for peach cobbler. It works wonderfully well with fresh berries of all sorts, especially dewberries and blackberries, though strawberries not so much. However, apples are mighty tasty done up this way. Like writing or making illustrations for books, imagination reigns, so don’t let these instructions inhibit you any. This ain’t a complicated preparation, despite the length of the recipe.
Start by peeling eight or nine fresh peaches and slicing them into a large mixing bowl. Georgia Belles are perfect for this preparation, but others will do as well, even the poor excuses grown in The Kingdom of the Yankee or California. I have been told you can do it with canned fruit but I don’t believe it.
To the sliced peaches add a cup of sugar (more or less, to taste), three jiggers peach liqueur (more or less, to taste—and remember that Bourbon works well too, but go easy on it, in fact take a sip of the jigger and put the rest in the peaches. If you are using fresh berries, use something like Grand Marnier or Cointreau). Add a pinch of salt and enough water to cover the peaches. Stir the mixture until most of the sugar is dissolved. Set aside. (NOTE: If you use apples add some cinnamon and cloves, to taste, and a squeeze of a lemon.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
While the oven’s warming, make up some of your favorite biscuit dough. If you don’t have such a recipe in your haversack of culinary tricks use Bisquick and follow the directions for making biscuits. No matter what recipe you use, add a few tablespoons of granulated sugar to the mixture.
Turn the sticky dough out on a floured pastry cloth or onto a floured counter top or large cutting board. Sift a bit of flour on top and then turn the ball of dough back onto itself several times until it’s smooth and you can pick it up without it sticking to your fingers.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin (or mash it flat with your hands) into a slab that is about one-half inch thick. Cut the flattened dough into dumplings four or five inches long and about as wide as your thumb. (This is not critical. You can cut them any size and shape you want to. You can even drop the dough into the pan by the spoonful if you wish, and if you do this you can skip the rolling out part and just drop the unfloured, raw dough onto the pan as described below. The more surface area you have, however, the more of the fruit juices will be absorbed and the soupier and yummier the final product will be.)
Butter the bottom of a baking dish with a generous amount of butter—half a stick or so. If you use a shallow dish the cooking time will be considerably shortened. Use good judgment. Personally I prefer a deeper pan. I have also made this preparations in individual ramekins (or small aluminum pans for picnics), but be warned—it cooks pretty quickly in small amounts. No matter, lots of butter on the bottom is essential. Lay strips of the dough on the bottom of the buttered pan, leaving an inch or so of space between, or just drop the dough from a spoon in golf-ball sized dollops.
It makes no real difference except to the appearance of the dish. You can even basket-weave long strips if you want to spend the time.
Stir the peaches and the juices and pour over the dumplings. If you are doing a shallow dish this may be sufficient, but if you are using a deeper dish you want to add a second layer of dumplings. Add more of the peaches and all the juices so that everything is just about covered.
Cut a stick of butter into patties and place them evenly around the top. Place in the middle of the hot oven and let it bake for about 45 minutes. The baking time will, of course, vary according to how deep a dish you have made. Keep an eye on it. It’s done when the dumplings are thoroughly cooked. This dish rises a good bit, so be prepared: put the baking dish on a cookie sheet covered in tinfoil. It’ll save a sticky and tenacious mess to have to clean up later.
Remove the peaches and sweet dumplings from the oven and let them sit for half an hour or so. Serve them warm in soup bowls topped with vanilla ice cream (cheddar cheese on the apples will make your tongue lay over).
If you still have some bourbon left it makes a mighty fine accompaniment.
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