Cobbler is Juicy
The women in my family have been making cobblers since before I can remember! But, what I always remember is the wonderful juiciness of every one of them! That little memory brings me to the discussion of what is cobbler; what is pie; and what is an upside-down cake? Probably dependent upon what part of the country you’re in, the term cobbler means different things to different folks!
Let’s travel a few miles south of my home state of South Carolina and go to Tuskegee, Alabama so I can reminisce just a bit. I moved there in 1992 to teach in the business school at that crown-jewel of higher education, Tuskegee University. My love of the food there was enhanced with my experience of enjoying an apple “cobbler” at their wonderful Kellogg Conference Center! It was quite a different cobbler from any that I had ever experienced. Initially, I thought it was cake with a fruit bottom – a sort of upside-down cake, but with more liquidity to the fruit bottom! It’s really not – the fruit filling for the cobbler is very much like the fruit filling for the cobblers we make in South Carolina. However, the topping is cake-like, versus a crust top that I was use to eating in South Carolina. For sure, it was delicious – different—but, absolutely delicious! Common to both: Juicey!
When we talk about pie (we’re talking double-crust fruit pies), on the other hand, there’s no difference by region –it’s a bottom crust and a top crust, both of which are perfectly flaky, and the filling is juicy to varying degrees!
Upside-down cake is a fruit filling on the bottom with a cake top. It is not so much juicy, as it is a part of the cake itself! Generally, when I make these, I serve these on their own with perhaps a brandied and sweetened whipped heavy cream on the side for guests to dollop a scoop upon their serving should they so desire.
This little chat is all about the fruit cobbler, given these wonderful berries and other fruits that I’ve been seeing at the fruit stands, and farmers’ markets. I’ve made three cobblers in the last six days! I’ve included several photographs to go along with our chat, because I want you to note two things — the absolute importance of a flaky crust; and the clear necessity of a juicy filling! Let’s step into the kitchen.
For all three cobblers that we will chat about today, I did them as individual cobblers in custard dishes. You can use little ramekins, miniature pie plates, or custard dishes when you are doing individual cobblers. This is easy for me being an empty nester; and it gives me a little bit of control of my gobbling up too much of a good thing in one sitting! Of course, if you are making your cobbler for the dessert course of a family dinner, then by all means use your 9×9 square baking dish; or your larger 9×12 rectangular baking dish. My mother use to use a larger lasagna pan to make her cobblers because our family consisting of daddy, mommy, one sister, and two brothers, plus me of course, was an army of six hungry mouths awaiting large dessert portions after dinner. We won’t talk about my two younger brothers always saying “I want some more cobbler”!!!
I am showing three cobblers: (1) Apple, with a filling that is that of a luscious apple pie; (2) Cherry-Berry, with a very sweet filling of dark sweet cherries and luscious blackberries; and (3) Blueberry, with a very juicy filling touched with a hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon zest. They have different degrees of juiciness as dictated by the fruits themselves.
First up are a couple of beautiful apples that were on sale. I pick up a Red Rome and a Granny Smith. Both of these apples are just too wonderful for baking.
First, refer to the earlier blog on “Perfect Flaky Pie Crust”. As you know, my standard recipe for crust is what I use. Take a look at the first photograph – this is the Apple Cobbler before breaking the crust. Look at the tenderness and flakiness of the crust! This is what you want to complement your wonderful filling.
Photo No. 1 – Apple Cobbler Crust
The cobbler is just enough for one person; goes well with that after-dinner cup of coffee; and prevents eating too much!
Photo No. 2 – Apple Cobbler Flakiness of Crust
Note the degree of flakiness in photo number two. I broke up the crust and photographed it to show you just how perfect the “Perfectly Flaky Crust” recipe is for your pies and cobblers.
Photo No. 3 – Apple Cobbler Filling
The filling of the apple cobbler should be nice and juicy as dictated by the amount of apple juice released during the baking process. It is not a runny type of juicy. It’s a enveloping glaze of a liquid that complements the baked apples with a delicious accent of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and a hint of lemon. It is not unusual for me to add a tablespoon of rum in my seasoning if I am including raisins in my apple-cobbler filling!
Take a look at this apple cobbler – all you need is a simple scoop of vanilla or rum raisin ice cream! Of course, I dared not to succumb to the additional indulgence!
Once you peel and cut your two apples, you need only add 3 tablespoons of sugar, about a teaspoon each of the spices, along with a tablespoon of cornstarch. You will be able to divide this among three ramekins (or in this case, custard dishes), add a top crust and bake for 25 minutes at 400 degrees. This is just a real quick, uncomplicated dessert that gives “miles of smiles”!
It’s summer time in South Carolina; and I’m driving on a secondary road on my way to Kingville. This is a lovely Saturday morning and I want to visit the cemetery of my great grandparents. On the trip down are these wonderful fruit stands along the way. I stop and get out of the car anticipating a particular fruit, but quickly notice these luscious blackberries, and some beautiful dark sweet cherries. I cannot make a decision as which “one” to get, so I get some of each! I quickly realize that I left my cherry pitter in Texas, so I’ll have to hand-pit each cherry if I’m going to use them in a cobbler! The blackberries, no problem – just rinse and dry!
I used about 2 cups of cherries and a pint of blackberries. This combination yielded me 4 individual cobblers. The blackberries give off a bit more juice, and cherries not quite as much, but retains its juice within the flesh of the cherry itself; so I use 2 tablespoons of cornstarch as part of my seasoning for the filling. I simply put the berries and pitted cherries in a medium-size steel bowl; add a quarter cup of granulated sugar, a teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and half teaspoon of cloves, then the cornstarch. I stir and divide it among the four custard cups; top each with a portion of crust and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Do keep in mind that if you are making a large family-size cobbler, your bake time will increase to 35-45 minutes, dependent upon size of cobbler.
Photo No. 4 – Cherry-Berry Cobbler Crust
Photo No. 5 – Cherry-Berry Cobbler – Filling
Photo No. 6 – Cherry-Berry Cobbler – Filling
Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits. I am particularly fond of blueberry pie; and a blueberries and cream layer cake that I make. During my early years of summertime in NYC, my absolute favorite desert was the blueberry cream pie that one could get at the Chock-Full-o-Nuts lunch counters. As they are long gone, it’s a memory that I bring to fruition at home during summer months. My version of that delicious cream pie is included in volume one of “Ham Bones: Memoirs of a Southern Cook.”
As you can see below, blueberries also make a fabulous cobbler. They are the juiciest when baked and create the most delicious filling . Note the difference in the liquidity of the juice that the blueberry cobbler has in the photographs provided below. A little addition that I did with the blueberry cobbler was brush the crust with a little bit of melted butter and sprinkle some sugar atop it! Ohhhh, don’t get me started on describing how wonderful that was – sugary and flaky!
Photo No. 7 – Blueberry Cobbler – Crust
Photo No. 8 – Blueberry Cobbler – Sugary Flaky Crust
Photo No. 9 – Blueberry Cobbler – Juicy Filling
Photo No. 10 – Blueberry Cobbler – Juicy Filling
Hope you enjoyed taking a look/see at these wonderful cobblers. I assure you that each was delicious! Its summertime – go get some beautiful summer fruit; make a cobbler!!!