So your coconut milk ice cream doesn’t get lonely, here’s a peach cobbler to give it company. Like the ice cream, this recipe is vegan, free of refined sugar and highly-processed flour. Perfect for summer and any cobbler lover in your life, which happens to be my dad.
Let’s Talk Flour
Hang in there, I’m going to tell you how to source good flour. But a little history first…
I bet at some point you’ve heard or read about how flour takes a toll on good health. Have you considered that it’s not the food itself which is bad but the way it’s grown, processed and marketed to us? Traditionally, grains were harvested fresh, soaked and sometimes sprouted before they were ground with stone mills. This left every part of the grain (the fiber- and nutrient-rich bran, the protein- and starch-rich endosperm, and the fat-rich germ) in the final flour product. This lengthy process created a flavorful, nourishing whole grain flour with a very short shelf life. All those heat, light and oxygen sensitive components of the grain go rancid quickly.
In the late 1800s, with quantity, convenience and cheapness in mind, industrialized food came up with the “perfect solution” for making flour that would last a long time. Strip it of all its volatile nutrients and leave nothing but the endosperm, the part which contains a bit of protein and lots of starch. “Perfect”, right? Unfortunately, it turns out that plain white flour makes people sick. This was realized after the beriberi outbreaks started occurring. Time for another “perfect solution”. Food manufacturers, under the government’s regulations, began fortifying and enriching flours with stable forms of vitamins and minerals. This replaced a lot of the nutrients that were lost in the first place and people stopped dying from deficiency diseases, so everyone’s happy…
Did you know it’s actually illegal to sell unenriched white flour in the United States? That’s because the stuff is so lethal on its own. Yet one look at the Standard American Diet, rife with products made from white flour, and the poor health it promotes is enough to suggest that even the enriched stuff isn’t the best for us. You’re probably not surprised by this outcome: by tinkering with traditional methods of food production and placing convenience over quality and flavor, flour has been adulterated to act in our bodies more like white sugar than a whole grain.
What Can We Do?
Thankfully, there are ways to ensure we get the highest quality flour into our homes and our bodies. The hardcore option is to buy whole grains, soak them overnight, sprout them, dry them, and grind them fresh (with a vitamix or home mill) into flour on an as-needed basis. Don’t worry! There are easier options!
We can also choose to buy high-quality whole grain flours and store them properly. This entails checking the expiration date (yes, good flour should have one) on the package, moving the flour to an airtight container at home, and storing it in the fridge or freezer. After 6 months, get rid of any unused flour and start afresh. After this period of time, the fats in the best whole-grain flours will have gone rancid. This is a good thing, it’s indicative of a whole food. But it also means the flavor in the flour will be stale and it will be full of free radicals (you know, those things that damage human cells?). So, out with the old.
With all that said, eating whole grains will always be healthier than eating whole grain flours. It’s just how the world works. Foods like to be kept in their whole forms to preserve their nutritional value, and our bodies like to digest them in those forms. This is why no amount of enriching and fortifying will ever create a perfect or healthy white flour. Grains are perfect as they’re made by nature. The molecules and nutrients in whole grains interact in ways beyond scientific explanation or understanding. Now, I’m all for science (it’s what enables baking!) but sometimes it’s best to trust in tradition and nature.
Now, for that cobbler…
12 normal sized Peaches, sliced or diced (no need to peel!)
2 Tbsp Arrowroot or *organic Cornstarch
2 Tbsp Water
1/2 tsp unrefined Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Coconut Sugar
1 cup Rolled Oats
1/4 cup Whole Spelt Flour
1 1/2 tsp aluminum-free Baking Powder
2 Tbsp Coconut Sugar
3 Tbsp unrefined Coconut Oil
1/2 cup Almond Milk (or other alternative milk)
Sprinkle of Date Sugar (optional), for topping
1. Make the filling by heating all of the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat until they boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about an hour, stirring periodically. You’re looking for softened fruit with a nice glaze.
2. Heat your oven to 400F. Coat your baking vessel with coconut oil. I used an 8″ square baking pan.
3. In a food processor, pulse the Rolled Oats until they turn into a coarse flour. Make the topping by whisking all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. With a fork, “cut” in the coconut oil until it’s thoroughly combined with the dry mix. You will have small pebble-like pieces running throughout when you’re there.
4. Using your fork or a spatula, gently stir in the milk until a loose dough forms.
5. Pour the peach filling into your baking pan. Dollop the dough however you’d like in big mounds across the top of the filling. Sprinkle the top of the cobbler with date sugar or more coconut sugar for a crunchy crust.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes. When done, filling will be thick and bubbly while the biscuit topping is firm on the surface but has a nice tender crumb within.
Serve immediately or refrigerate for a day or two before reheating. The cobbler keeps well in the freezer when wrapped tightly in foil. Put it straight from the freezer into a warm oven for about 30 minutes to reheat.
*If it’s not specifically organic cornstarch then it’s most likely made from genetically modified corn.
Sources and Further Information
Dan Barber, The Third Plate
Michael Pollan, Cooked
Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Whole
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