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Tiny Pastry Chef

(by Erycka Dore’an)

As a child, I looked forward to the aroma of cinnamon or a spritz of citrus drifting from the kitchen as my mother created one of her special treats. I always volunteered to be her assistant. Who wouldn’t want to be up close and personal to all of her favorite sweets? This same excitement and curiosity has been passed on to my older daughter, Payton.

“Mommy, I want to help,” she said, just two years old and tugging at the bottom of my shirt as I prepared to make Grandma Potter's peach cobbler for our Thanksgiving table two years ago. (Grandma Potter is somebody else's grandma, but for the purposes of cobbler, she's family.)

My mother is still the matriarch and resident culinary genius of the family, but every year, each member of the family contributes a dish for our much-anticipated holiday feast. I’m the youngest of several girls, and the brothers-in-law and nieces share their cooking skills too, so the menu is vast.

I was busy and focused, but how could I say No? I stopped what I was doing, and looked under the cupboard. There it was, a miniature baking dish. She could create a pint-size cobbler.

Payton waited patiently for her portion of the ingredients, so that I could guide her through the recipe.

“Mommy, am I doing it right?” she asked as she kneaded the dough for her crust.

“Yes, you’re doing a wonderful job.”

“I’m sorry, Mommy,” she said when she accidentally spilled something.

“You’re fine, Ladybug. It’s no big deal.”

“Is it ready yet?” she asked anxiously while we waited for both cobblers to finish in the oven.

“Let’s watch the parade. That will help the time pass.”

We got lost in beautiful floats and performances, and before we knew it, the “ding” of the timer meant it was time to check our work.

“Mommy, look what I did,” Payton exclaimed proudly as I placed her golden-brown pastry on the cooling rack.

My younger daughter Payge is now two, the same age that her sister first put her hands on the rolling pin. But Payge is our self-proclaimed taste-tester—more interested in sampling the end product than the process of making it. Not a problem: In our family at Thanksgiving, there will be plenty of "work" for her.


Erycka Dore’an (@erycka.dorean) is the author of PWS: Parenting While Single and owner of SoloMom, which creates and distributes encouraging materials for mothers.

Grandma Potter’s Peach Cobbler

(adapted from Saveur Magazine)


2 2⁄3 c. all-purpose flour

1 t. salt

1⁄4 t. baking powder

16 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

6 oz. cold cream cheese, cut into pieces

1 T. cider vinegar

2 - 3 T. milk

2 T. sugar


5 lb. ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 c. sugar

5 T. cornstarch

1 1⁄2 T. fresh lemon or lime juice

heaping 1⁄2 t. freshly grated nutmeg

1⁄2 t. salt

2 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces


Put flour, salt, baking powder, butter, and cream cheese in a food processor.

Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, 6 – 10 pulses.

Drizzle in vinegar and 3 T. cold water, and pulse until mixture begins to clump together (it won't form a ball), 6 – 10 pulses.

Flatten into a 10-inch square, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.


Combine peaches, 1 c. sugar, cornstarch, lemon or lime juice, nutmeg, and salt.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Divide dough into thirds.

On a lightly floured surface, roll two-thirds of dough into a 14 x 18 rectangle

Ease dough into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Brush rim with milk, fill with peach mixture, and dot with butter.

Roll remaining dough out on a floured surface into a 10 x 14 rectangle.

Cut lengthwise into 12 strips, and lay on top of filling in a lattice pattern.

Crimp and trim edges.

Brush strips with milk and sprinkle with remaining 2 T. sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F., and bake until pastry is golden brown, 30 - 40 minutes more.

Let cool briefly before serving.


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