Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Peach Blackberry Cobbler Recipe
Is there a more old-fashioned word than cobbler or cobbled? It brings to mind a shoemaker in a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale or those stone streets in Europe (the ones that are so treacherous if you're wearing high heels). Just the word alone is quaint, charming and feels handmade. Which of course brings me to the culinary version of cobbler. A cobbler is basically sweet biscuit dough formed into tiles and "cobbled" together on top of baked fruit. It's the kind of thing you can make year round, just varying the fruit with the season. Because it's so chilly in San Francisco in August, it's really the perfect dessert at the moment. We'll have to a while longer before making ice cream I'm afraid.
My most recent cobbler combines organically grown peaches I got from my friend Gayle who annually adopts a tree from the writer and farmer Mas Masumoto, dark as night blackberries from Driscoll's and a spice I am crazy about, cardamom. I recommend combining a couple types of fruit, it makes the cobbler prettier thanks to the contrasting colors, but also adds more texture, complex flavor and sweetness. I also recommend adding a bit of spice. If black pepper and mint had a love child, it would be cardamom. It's an exotic and aromatic spice, common in both Indian cuisine and in Nordic baking. I added a touch of it to both the fruit and the biscuit topping but it's still very subtle.
This cobbler is based on a Sara Moulton recipe. She makes a scaled down version that bakes in a one quart pan in the toaster oven (I use an 8x8 inch pan instead). It's really smart for small households because cobbler is best fresh from the oven. In fact, if you preheat the toaster oven and then get cooking I find it reaches temperature just at the point the cobbler is ready to bake.
Note: You can blanch and peel the peaches if you like, but I prefer leaving the skins on.
Peach Blackberry Cobbler Makes 4 servings
4 peaches, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 1/2 cup blackberries
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup buttermilk plus more for the tops of the biscuits
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the peaches, blackberries, cornstarch, cardamom and sugar and toss gently to combine. Transfer to an 8 inch square baking pan.
In a bowl combine the flour sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender until the mixture resembles the texture of small peas. Stir in the buttermilk to form a soft sticky dough. Knead into a ball then turn out onto a well-floured work surface and roll to a thickness of about 1/2 inch. Use a biscuit cutter or wine glass to cut out 4 biscuits gathering the trimmings and rolling again as necessary. Arrange the biscuits over the fruit. Brush biscuits lightly with additional buttermilk using a pastry brush, sprinkle with turbinado sugar, and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with or without vanilla ice cream.