Sunflower, one of Milt Jackson’s most beloved songs, will add a little sunshine in your kitchen as you prepare this amazing cobbler.
Milt Jackson – Jazz Vibraphonist
Milton “Bags” Jackson (January 1, 1923 – October 9, 1999) was an American jazz vibraphonist, usually thought of as a bebop player, although he performed in several jazz idioms. He is especially remembered for his cool swinging solos as a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet and his penchant for collaborating with several hard bop and post-bop players.
A very expressive player, Jackson differentiated himself from other vibraphonists in his attention to variations on harmonics and rhythm. He was particularly fond of the twelve-bar blues at slow tempos. He preferred to set the vibraphone’s oscillator to a low 3.3 revolutions per second (as opposed to Lionel Hampton’s speed of 10 revolutions per second) for a more subtle vibrato. On occasion, Jackson sang and played piano professionally.
“Making sweets has become a hobby with me. It carries over from learning from my mother when I was small. I used to watch her and got her to teach me. [This Peach Cobbler] is the kind of thing that cooks best under a slow fire. By cooking it slow and low, just like my mother did, it won’t burn and the inner layer won’t become soggy.
Recipe from “Jazz Cooks, Portraits and Recipes of the Greats”
by Bob Young and Al Stankus
2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder (“You don’t want a big rise”)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup shortening
About 3/4 cup half-and-half or milk
7 cups sliced canned peaches, packed in syrup, or ripe, fresh peaches
1/4 cup sugar, plus an additional 1/3 cup if using fresh peaches
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. To prepare the crust, sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, and in small pieces, alternately cut the butter and shortening into the lour mixture with a fork and using only enough liquid to make the dough soft. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and, with your hands, knead for 30 to 45 seconds. Separate the dough into 2 portions, making one portion slightly (10-15%) larger than the other. Set aside.
To prepare the peach mixture, if using canned peaches, drain the syrup from both cans, reserving 1/4 cup. (If using fresh peaches, make a sugar syrup by combining 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring continuously, then lower heat to a simmer and continue to stir for 5 minutes or until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and cool.)
Place the peaches in a large bowl and sift the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon over them. Mix well. Pour half of the peach mixture into the prepared baking dish and dot with half the butter.
Roll out the smaller portion of dough and place over the peaches. Pour the second half of the peach mixture on top of the layer of dough. Lightly drizzle the peach syrup (or the sugar syrup) over the peaches. Dot with the remaining butter.
Roll out the remaining piece of dough so that it is larger enough to slightly overlap the baking dish, and crimp the edges. Place the dough on top of the peaches, allowing the excess to hang over the edge of the baking dish.
Place a large dish or bowl on the rack below the baking dish to catch drips, and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the top crust is lightly browned all over.
Serve with vanilla-spiked whipped cream, ice cream, or as Milt Jackson likes it, “just plain.”