“He threaded among willows and sycamores and wild blackberry vines in the riverbed, patted the trunks of live oak and scrub oak, madrone and laurel.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Oh August! We still have fresh blackberries, raspberries, tomatoes, a new crop of crisp apples and pears too. I’m dizzy with possibility. I grew up devouring summer cobblers, crumbles and crisps. We scooped lush, sweet fruit into our bowls and went back to dig in the pan until it was all gone. Scraping the corners of the pan to get every last bit of sticky fruit was a must. My mom was known for her pies but when she was summer busy a cobbler topped with drop biscuits brought no complaints. Desserts with more fruit than topping, more fruit than sugar, just more fruit is the siren song of August in California.
A cobbler is a classic American dessert, lots of barely sweetened fruit topped with fluffy homemade biscuits. This is a recipe that takes the classic pairing of biscuits and jam and tosses it up in the air! It lands with more jammy fruit than biscuit. The pillowy biscuits are tender crumbed from butter and cream. Their bottoms nestle into the fruit while the biscuit tops reach high in the oven to gain their toasty brown tops. For a golden finish brush the biscuit tops with more cream and a sprinkle of sugar.
I found the southern classic, White Lily Flour, at my local grocery store. It is a low protein, finely milled flour that makes fantastic biscuits. I could feel the difference working with the White Lily Flour, the flour particles were fine and it is not as powdery as all-purpose flour. It really does have a unique texture. Although the biscuit dough seemed more compact than normal, the outcome was fabulous, light and flakey with a tender crumb. Pairing the Blackberries with lemon thyme enhances the flavor profile of the cobbler filling. Regular thyme can be used instead or omitted entirely. This cobbler is not too sweet, add more sugar if you must. Just make sure to savor fresh berries while the season lasts.
|1T||fresh lemon thyme leaves (optional)|
|1C||While Lily or all-purpose flour|
|1t||fine grain sea salt|
|4T/2oz||unsalted butter, chilled and cubed|
|To finish the Cobbler|
|2 sprigs||lemon thyme, for garnish (optional)|
- Heat the oven to 400°. Butter a 8”x 8” or I used a 9-1/2″ x 6″ baking pan.
- In a medium sized bowl add the blackberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon thyme. Fold the ingredients together until the cornstarch is no longer visible. Try not to smash too many of the blackberries. Pour the berry mixture into the buttered baking pan, scraping the bowl to include any juice, berries or lingering dry ingredients. Arrange the berries in an even layer across the entire pan.
- In another medium sized bowl sift or shake through a large sieve the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix the ingredients together and then add the butter. Work the butter into the dry ingredients. Dip down to the bottom of the bowl to include more of the flour. Massage the ingredients together until the butter is mostly the size of large peas. Add the cream and fold the ingredients together. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to include all the dry ingredients. The mixture should clump together. If the mixture is too dry add more cream, a tablespoon at a time. Scrape the contents of the bowl unto a lightly floured work surface. Bring the dough together and knead 3 or 4 times, just until the dough forms a cohesive mass. Flatten the dough into a 5”-6” circle. Flour the bottom edges of a biscuit cutter and cut out the biscuits for topping the cobbler. Reform the scraps and cut out more biscuits. Arrange the biscuits on top of the blackberries. Brush the biscuits with cream and sprinkle the sugar on top of the cream.
- Bake the cobbler for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, cover the cobbler with foil to prevent the biscuits from over browning. When done the blackberry juices will bubble up around the biscuits which will be golden brown. The cobbler can be served while warm with lemon thyme as a garnish. When the cobbler cools the berry juices will thicken and form a sauce for the cobbler.
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