A peach pot-pie, or cobler, as it is often termed, should be made of clingstone peaches, that are very ripe, and then pared and sliced from the stones. Rub the bottom and sides of a porridge-pot, or small oven with butter, and then with dry flour. Roll out some pieces of plain or standing paste about half an inch thick, line the sides of the pot or oven with the pieces of paste, letting them nearly touch in the bottom.
Put in the prepared peaches, sprinkle on a large handful of brown sugar, pour in plenty of water to cook the peaches without burning them, though there should be but very little liquor or syrup when the pie is done. Put a paste over the top, and bake it with moderate heat, raising the lid occasionally, to see how it is baking. When the crust is brown, and the peaches very soft, invert the crust on a large dish, put the peaches evenly on, and grate loaf sugar thickly over it. Eat it warm or cold. Although it is not a fashionable pie for company, it is very excellent for family use, with cold sweet milk.
The Kentucky Housewife by Lettice Bryan, 1839
Some early references to Cobblers
Bryan also had a recipe for Apple Pot Pie. Leslies's Directions for Cookery, 1839 contains an Apple Pot Pie which is similar.
A civil war soldier recounted that 4 men bought a bushel of peaches, found a huge oven, "made a crisp crust, with which the pot was lined. In this was put all the peaches, overlaid with another crust of dough and properly baked…a fragrant, really delicious peach-cobler was ready to be devoured...[they were] unfit for duty the remainder of the day." Tunnard. A Southern Record, 1866.
Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms quotes a reference from 1859 as "Cobbler...a sort of pie, baked in a pot lined with dough of great thickness, upon which fruit is placed." It was not mentioned in his first edition of 1848. In 1832:"Cobbler. Name given to bread toasted on one side only." is quoted from The Cook's Own Book by Mrs. Lee. "Peach Cobbler and apple dumpling were the two dishes that made old slaves smile for joy and the young fairly dance." Louis Hughes, Thirty Years a Slave.
Making the recipe
Roll out half of pie crust dough and line the sides of a pot or dutch oven. Add the fruit mixture, but leave room for the top crust. Pat or roll out the rest of the dough thicker, and place over the filling, crimping to the dough on the sides. Slice the top to release the steam. Put on the lid of the pot.
The pot pie described by Bryan could be done in a dutch oven or over a fire in a pot. Chicken pot pies using a pie crust are delicious when "baked" in a stew pot over a fire. However make sure not to line the bottom, only the sides and top with the pie crust.
A warning about joining the top to the side dough. One time I had a student with long fingernails doing it, and she created slits in the dough while crimping. Although the dough along the sides of the pot was dry, the top crust became soggy.
Past posts on peaches -- Peach Pickles (1774), Peach Houses and images of picking peaches HERE, a Peach Cobbler baked over the fire in a stewpan with a flaky crust HERE, and other peach recipes (including 1824 peach ice cream, peaches in brandy, spiced peaches HERE
©2009 Patricia Bixler Reber
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