Skill Builder: Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler
Step-by-step directions for the perfect outdoor dessert.
By Tim Spice
Cooking with cast iron is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. For me, it brings back many fond memories, like the aroma of fresh farm eggs and sausage or fried chicken cooking in grandma’s cast iron skillet.
My father had a small, aluminum Dutch oven that would magically appear from his backpack. He would then prepare an aromatic and tasty pineapple and cherry cobbler. It was made even more delicious, I’m sure, by the fact that we were hungry after a day outdoors. When I joined the Boy Scouts, I learned you could cook anything in a Dutch oven.
Most people are amazed at the wonderful food that can be produced from a small black pot and a bunch of hot coals. Dutch oven cooking is easy to do!
The quintessential Texas Dutch oven dessert has to be peach cobbler. Here is a simple recipe.
First, start with a bed of hot coals. Use charcoal instead of wood coals, and it will be much easier to manage the heat. Place a can of drained peaches in a clean Dutch oven with a dab of butter, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. Stir mixture to incorporate ingredients.
Using a box of cake mix, prepare the mix as directed on the box, then pour it on top of the peaches. Place the lid on the oven.
Using a fireproof surface away from any structures, use a shovel to spread out enough hot coals to equal two fewer in number than the diameter of the oven. So, for a 12-inch Dutch oven, use 10 briquettes. Place the oven on the coals. On top of the Dutch oven, place two more briquettes than the diameter, or 14 in this case. On a mild day with no rain and low humidity, this combination of briquettes will generate enough heat to cook the cobbler to perfection. If the weather is cool, windy or a little rainy, more coals may be added to the top and bottom.
The most important ingredient is patience. Opening the lid too often will lower the temperature in the Dutch oven, so the cobbler will take longer to cook. Wait for 20 minutes, then take a peek inside. Remember, the lid will be hot, so be sure to use a lid lifter or a pair of pliers. Insert a knife in the center of the cake; if it comes out clean, the cobbler is ready. If your cobbler is not browning, place the lid back on the pot and add a few more briquettes.
For a special treat, add some pecans during the last five minutes.
For more information about cast iron cooking, check out the TPWD YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/TexasParksWildlife.