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Peach and Blackberry Cobbler

July 23, 2010
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At the farmers market on Saturday I bought two pints of blackberries.  I came home, rinsed the berries, stood over the kitchen sink and started to chow down.  I popped a berry in my mouth and a couple of seconds later I spat out something hard that I assumed was just a little seed.  I looked at the seed I’d spat out and it started to move… lo and behold it was actually a little black bug.  I do not know exactly when the berries that I’d bought were picked (and I’m going to expose the farm with the bad blackberries as soon as I figure out what it’s called), but they turned out to not be the highest quality and that little bug had some friends.

Here’s a question: besides tossing it in the garbage, what do you do with fruit that you know might have bugs living in it? Answer: bake it!  I’d much rather eat dead bugs than alive ones anyways. (At this point you’re probably wondering why I didn’t throw all the blackberries away.  It’s because I’m cheap.)

I’d also picked up some peaches at the farmers market (which I knew for certain where bug-free), so I decided to throw it all together under a nice biscuity crust, and to bake the heck out of those little suckers.  And here’s the real kicker: then I served it as dessert for our dinner guest.  But it tasted really, really good and I swear you couldn’t tell there were maybe some bugs in it!  Even Nate liked it and he knew my secret! (Tom: I hope you and Ali will still come over for dinner. I promise this won’t happen again.)

In this recipe, the fruit is baked in the oven for about 25 minutes before the biscuit topping is added.  This allows the fruit to get nice and soft and yummy without running the risk of over-baking the topping.  Those folks over at Cook’s Illustrated are indeed geniuses.

At any rate, as I was combining the peaches and blueberries together, liquid started seeping out of the fruit and accumulating in the bowl.  A lot of liquid.  I’d originally put in a heaping tablespoon of cornstarch to bring things together, but then I just kept putting in more and more… I’m not a fan of  runny cobblers.  Luckily I put in just the right amount, and it turned out perfectly.  There was about an equal number of peaches to blackberries, and since peaches are naturally so sweet, you don’t need to put in as much sugar.  This is definitely a cobbler I’ll be making again, although hopefully sans the extra protein!

Peach and Blackberry Cobbler

(Adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

You can use pretty much any fruit here: the recipe was written for blueberries, but you could use strawberries, just peaches, cherries, plums (how good would that be?!?), or pretty much anything.  The amount of cornstarch depends on the amount of liquid in the fruit– if you use something with more liquid, like cherries or peaches, you can use more cornstarch, whereas if you use a fruit with less liquid (like apricots), use less cornstarch.  The same goes for sugar– if you use a sweet fruit (like peaches or strawberries), use less sugar; for a more bitter fruit (like blackberries) use more sugar.  For the biscuit topping, don’t stir the wet ingredients into the dry until the fruit comes out of the oven, and don’t overmix.  I made this mistake once, and the biscuit topping is definitely fluffier and better that way!

Filling
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
  pinch ground cinnamon
  pinch table salt
6 cups fresh fruit
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Biscuit Topping
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
2 tablespoons cornmeal , stone-ground
1/4 cup granulated sugar , plus 2 teaspoons for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
1/3 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, add some lemon juice into regular milk and let sit for 5 minutes)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

For the filling: Stir sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt together in large bowl. Add fruit and mix gently with rubber spatula until evenly coated; add lemon zest and juice and mix to combine. Transfer fruit mixture to 9-inch glass pie pan, place pie pan on rimmed baking sheet, and bake until filling is hot and bubbling around edges, about 25 minutes.

For the biscuit topping: Whisk flour, cornmeal, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to combine. Whisk melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla in small bowl. Mix remaining 2 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon in second small bowl and set aside. One minute before berries come out of the oven, add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; stir with rubber spatula until just combined and no dry pockets remain.

To assemble and bake cobbler: Remove fruit from oven; increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Pinch off 8 equal-sized pieces biscuit dough and place on hot fruit filling, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart (they should not touch). Sprinkle each mound of dough with cinnamon-sugar. Bake until filling is bubbling and biscuits are golden brown on top and cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool cobbler on wire rack 20 minutes and serve.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy permalink
    July 23, 2010 11:28 am

    My mother-in-law has a bunch of Raspberry bushes @ her house and she figured out that layering them on a cookie sheet (or something flat) and freezing them not only kills the bugs but also keeps them longer because rinsing them gets them too moist and they mold faster! I like to rinse in a solid bowl/soak so that they bugs all come to the top for air, then I know they come out!! Sorry you had to endure that, but maybe the recipe was worth it?!

    • July 23, 2010 11:36 am

      That is a great suggestion! Next time I’ll definitely have to give that a try, although it probably won’t be until next year, as we’re coming to the end of berry season at the farmer’s market 🙂 The recipe was fantastic– the berries tasted better baked with peaches than they did raw anyways!

  2. July 24, 2010 6:02 pm

    LOL! I am right there with you! I get fresh blackberries so little that I would eat them with live bugs rather than throw them out! Baking them into a cobbler was an excellent move! You would never know they were there, and what’s a little added protein, right?

    • July 25, 2010 11:55 am

      Exactly! You have to do what you can with fresh local produce, and my first thought when I saw the bugs was “Well, at least they’re organic!” Luckily you can make most fruits edible by baking them 🙂 And thanks for checking out my blog!

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