A cobbler by any other name ...

Adrienne Freeman Originally Published July 25, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated July 24, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.
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Adrienne Freeman

Cobblers are a traditional American dessert usually made with seasonal fresh fruit and simple pantry staples. Peaches, blackberries, blueberries and raspberries are all in season in Arkansas and are perfect for this delicious dessert. Try making it in individual dishes so everyone gets the much-desired crunchy crust.

A cobbler by any other name — grunt, slump, dump, Betty, crumble — is still as sweet. Cobbler, a truly American dessert usually made with regionally seasonal fruits and berries, was devised by the early settlers because the ingredients for making their traditional English puddings weren’t available in the New World.

“Without the resources of brick ovens … colonial cooks often made cobblers … in pots over an open fire,” states The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Volume 2.

“In these types of pies, a filling made of fruit, meat or vegetable goes into a pot first; then a skin of dough is placed over the filling, followed by the pot’s lid. As cobblers cook, the filling stews and creates its own sauce and gravy, while the pastry puffs up and dries.”

The modern method is similar, with the main differences being found in the crust. Most have a biscuit-dough crust that rises on top of bubbling fruit sweetened with honey or sugar. Some Northern versions of cobbler are covered with actual biscuits.

Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and peaches, all traditional cobbler fillings, are in season right now in Arkansas. The simple combination of the fruit, its juice and a little sugar topped by a crispy, sweet crust turn out a delicious, juicy dessert. A scoop of homemade ice cream or rich whipped cream is the perfect finish.

FRESH PEACH COBBLER

This delightful cobbler recipe is a contribution from noted cook and regular reader Jean Boyce. The crust is sweet and covers the silky fresh peaches for a real Southern treat.

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons butter

2 cups sugar, divided use

¾ cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Dash of salt

¾ cup milk

2 cups fresh sliced peaches

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in a 2-quart baking dish. Set aside.

Peel and slice peaches. Combine with 1 cup sugar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together dry ingredients, including remaining sugar. Add milk, and stir until mixed. Pour over butter in baking dish. Do not stir in.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until crust is puffed and lightly golden brown. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Cook’s tip: Make sure peaches are prepared before stirring the crust together – otherwise, the crust mixture could start to rise in the bowl.

FRESH BERRY COBBLER

This variation of a berry pie recipe from Beth Eggers, co-owner with her husband, Butch, of Wye Mountain Flowers and Berries in Bigelow, will be a new family favorite. A mixture of any berries in season will produce a great cobbler.

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar, divided

1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup cold water

6 cups fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup self-rising yellow cornmeal mix

½ cup butter, melted (2 sticks)

1 cup milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk in cold water until mixture is partially dissolved. Combine berries and cornstarch mixture in a large bowl until well blended; spoon berry mixture into a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish.

Combine flour, cornmeal mix, and remaining sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in butter and milk until blended. Gently spread batter evenly over berry mixture.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the crust comes out clean.

PEACH AND BLUEBERRY COBBLER

Adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa

Fruit mixture:

6 to 8 fresh, ripe peaches

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ pint fresh blueberries

Crumble:

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light-brown sugar, lightly packed

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ pound cold unsalted butter, diced (1 stick)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Peel the peaches, cut them into thick slices, and place them in a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice to prevent browning. Sprinkle granulated sugar and flour over the peaches, and toss well. Gently mix in the blueberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into ramekins, custard cups or ovenproof individual bowls.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Break up any large clumps with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit.

Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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