by Nancy Baggett
Despite the old saying, “more American than apple pie,” Americans can’t really claim credit for pie; English settlers brought recipes for it with them. However, we can take full credit for the old-fashioned fruit dessert called cobbler. It was created here in the late 18th or early 19th century, around the time that baking soda became available and cooks began using it to puff up their doughs. One of the first mentions of “cobler” was in Mrs. Lettice Bryan’s 1839 cookbook, The Kentucky Housewife.
In a recipe called Peach Pot Pie, she commented: “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.” At the end of the recipe, she added: Eat it warm or cold. Although it is not a fashionable pie for company, it is very excellent for family use…” While cobbler is indeed a fine dish for families, all the company I’ve served it to has also been thrilled with this succulent, richly flavored homespun treat!
The best recipe for peach cobbler I’ve ever eaten was one baked for me by Jean Jennings of Mountain View, Arkansas. Her recipe is one of 150 I collected and feature in my latest cookbook, The All-American Dessert Book. For some fine cobbler recipes, see my traditional blackberry version or raspberry crumble-crust cobbler here.