Sunday, June 8, 2008

PIE, COBBLER, & CRISP: Fruit-Filled Goodness (PART 2: Cobbler)

Cobbler is the perfect end to a home-cooked meal. Delicious, heartwarming, and tasting of love, a homemade fresh fruit cobbler makes any worries you might have just melt away.

Right now stone fruit cobblers are the way to go. Apricots, nectarines, cherries, peaches... these beautiful, bright fruits are the perfect foil for cobbler's satisfying and tender topping. Try to see if you can get a discount at the farmers' market on bruised fruit. Fruit that is a little damaged will save you some cash, and it works great in a cobbler.

Making cobbler is a cinch. Just preheat the oven to 375 degrees, butter a pan that works for you, and cut up your fruit. Toss the fruit with a little cornstarch or flour to thicken it, just a teaspoon or so should do, and a little bit of sugar if the fruit needs it. Put the fruit in your pan, and let it sit and marinate in its juices while you prepare the dough. The cobbler dough recipe that I love most is from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. The following recipe calls for an 8 x 10-inch pan, but the 9 x 11-inch pan that I generally use works well too. I also often reduce this recipe in half or multiply it by 2 or 3, depending on the quantity that I am cooking, and then I just use the corresponding pan(s).
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Mix the dry ingredients together, then cut in the butter using your fingers or two knives until it forms coarse crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla with a fork until the dough clings together when grabbed with your hand. If it is too dry, add a little more buttermilk until all of the dough is moist enough to come together.

I usually use whole or lowfat milk, half-and-half or cream, or a combination of whatever I have in the house as a substitute for the buttermilk, since buttermilk isn't something I tend to have on hand. While the buttermilk does make for a very lovely dough topping, all of the various combinations I have tried consistently produce tasty results.

The task of completing the cobbler is a soothing one. I enjoy laying out biscuit-shapes or scoops of dough, covering the colorful dabs of fruit like a mosaic. Alternatively, I like to roll out one large sheet of cozy dough to gently tuck in my fruit. Sometimes I like to brush a little milk on the top of the dough and sprinkle on some coarse sugar. The cobbler typically bakes for a little over an hour, or until the juices are bubbling and the topping is brown.

Guaranteed to brighten your day, both in the process of making it and eating it, you can't go wrong with a cobbler in the house!

Recipe © 1997 by Deborah Madison.

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