While I love this time of year and all of the wonderful offerings at the farmers markets, I am repeatedly lured into the garden with a multitude of tasks that comes along with these long, warm days. My balance becomes skewed into the direction of the garden and out of the kitchen. And I’ve added another activity to my already unbalanced state of affairs.
I broke down. Threw in the towel. Proclaimed to myself that my previous ways of doing things were no longer working. I thought it over for a while. Weighed my options about what I was willing to forsake and took the plunge. Head first.
I…wait for it… I hired a personal trainer and thoroughly broke down my eating style, which as it turns out wasn’t so bad in terms of the types of food I ate. I haven’t been eating often enough, early enough or balanced enough for the way my body metabolizes. I need to eat more and combine my food for more effective metabolism. My long power walks each morning have been replaced by short, intense cardio sessions and weights. Lots of weights. And boot camp. I’m not sure how I feel about boot camp because I can barely lift my arms up to the keyboard today.
So this newfangled approach has thrown a wrench in some of my cooking and baking plans for the moment, but I’m finding all sorts of new and delicious ways to use the ingredients that I love without filling my diet with non-fat, chemical-based alternatives. I just won’t go there. But I also allow myself some cheats, which is where we’re going to begin with today!
I came across this recipe in the Holy Grail of baking cookbooks: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. Let’s acknowledge her greatness with a moment of silence.
Here’s one recipe that I did allow to grace my lips only for a fleeting moment before I shipped it off to my neighbors. I chose this recipe as I was
torturing myself browsing through the massive Baking cookbook. I didn’t know what I was looking for. Clearly I shouldn’t have been perusing these types of recipes when I should be eating clean, but I needed to bake. I can’t explain it. My soul needed it, or something like that. Ya dig?
So when I read the recipe and noticed that Dorie (we’re on a first name basis now) actually listed using frozen mixed berries before fresh, I was pleasantly surprised. I had frozen mixed berries in my freezer. Dorie is a great friend. She’s got your back with this one.
Prep the frozen berries by adding a little sugar, cornstarch and lemon zest. Toss together and pour into a buttered 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. I am wrestling with the question of whether a glass pie dish should be called a pan or a plate? It seems that it is neither. Someone set me straight.
Add your dry ingredients into a bowl and mix them together. Cut 6 tablespoons of butter into pieces and drop them into the dry ingredients.
Get in there with your hands and rub the butter and flour mixture together. I could have used a pastry cutter, but I’m working on my muscles these days.
You want to slide the butter and flour through your fingers until the butter has turned into bits. When you’re done, the shards of butter will be of different sizes and the mixture will not be anywhere near together yet. Totally normal.
You need to add a little cream to bring it all together. Notice the flour mixture and how it seems relatively unchanged once the butter has been broken down. The little pieces are lurking under the flour.
Using a fork, toss the cream into the mixture.
Once you get to this stage, you need to pull it together with your hands.
I wouldn’t call it kneading, but you need (no pun intended) to work it a bit just to get the dough together.
Transfer the dough to waxed paper and cover with another sheet of waxed paper. It helps if you make the dough into a bit of a circle, especially if you’re rolling-pin-challenged, like I am.
Roll the dough into a slightly less than 9-inch circle and place over the prepared berries.
Trim off the over-hanging parts of the dough. You want this to be sitting right on top of the berries and not attached to the dish, pan, plate…whatever.
Cut a few slits in the top, and place the pan onto a sheet pan just in case there’s any overflow. Into the oven it goes for an hour, although my nose was telling me this was done well before an hour was up. Start checking it at 40 minutes.
What may appear to be a slightly over-done top, was actually a very tender, slightly sweet biscuit.
And once cut into with a large kitchen spoon, revealed a delicious fruit medley with a wonderful syrup created from the berries and sugar.
Mixed Berry Cobbler
For the topping:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into little bits
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
For the filling:
About 6 cups (approximately 2 packages of Trader Joe’s Mixed Berries is what I used) mixed berries frozen, not in syrup (no need to defrost them ahead of time), or fresh
4-5 tablespoons sugar (depending on your taste or how tart the berries may be)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon or lime
1/4 teaspoon (or more, to taste) freshly ground black pepper (optional, and I omitted it)
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch deep dish pie plate and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
To make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour baking powder, sugar and salt. Drop in the butter, and using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces in between and that’s just right.
Pour the cream over the dry ingredients and toss and gently turn the ingredients with a fork until you’ve got a very soft dough. When the dough comes together, you’ll probably still have dry ingredients at the bottom of the bowl – just use a spatula or your hands to mix and knead the dough until it’s evenly blended. Don’t over do it; it’s better to have a few dry spots than an overworked dough. Even with all the flour mixed in, the dough will be soft and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap, cover with another sheet of paper or plastic and gently press or roll the dough into a circle that is a scant 9 inches in diameter. Don’t worry about getting the size or edges exact; it adds to the charm of this dessert.
To make the filling: Toss all the ingredients into a large bowl and stir to mix. Turn the fruit into the buttered pie plate and top with the biscuit. Cut slits into the top with a sharp knife or cut a small circle in the center with a piping tip.
Bake the cobbler for 60 to 75 minutes, or until the top is puffed and golden brown and the fruit is bubbling steadily up through the center steam hole and all around the scalloped edges of the biscuit. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.
My cobbler was over done around 45-50 minutes.
I didn’t cut a hole in the center of the biscuit and it was fine. I cut slits but all the bubbling took place around the sides.
As the cobbler cools, the berry juices will thicken a bit; cool it longer, and the biscuit will absorb a majority of the juices.
This is best the day it is made. Refrigerating it will make the biscuit lose its texture.