I cannot resist a recipe that promises an odd outcome. To wit, prior to stumbling upon this curiosity in the wonderful A Boat, A Whale and a Walrus, an assembly of recipes and stories from restaurants on the other side of the country that I am now extra-sad I haven’t been to (yet! Like maybe in 5 or 18 years or so?), I understood cobblers to be more or less baked fruit topped with a soft cake batter or plush biscuit, while crisps had clusters of oaty and sometimes nutty cookie-like crumbs giving them their namesake texture. [Let us save comparisons with crumbles, grunts, fools, pandowdys, sonkers, bettys, buckles and slabs for another delicious day.] Crisps were not soft; cobblers were not crisp.
But not this one. Here, in technique that Renee Erickson, the author and chef, says she was handed down from the original owner of one of her restaurants, The Boat Street Café, a rather simple flour/butter/sugar/milk batter is beaten for longer than any proper cake recipe would usually advocate, spread thinly over unpeeled peaches that have been dressed only with lemon zest and juice — no thickeners, spices or sugar — coated with more sugar and then drizzled with hot water. In the oven, the batter develops a crisp lid that is as fun to impatiently tap your way through as the best crème brûlée.