Fall is decidedly making its entrance with cooler and darker mornings and evenings, and is further marked by the disappearance of berries from the farmers market. I realized something was off season-wise, when I asked for hot coffee the other day instead of iced. And I actually wore a sweater coat out to dinner the other night and still was cold! That could also be the fact that I happen to be a girl a girl and get cold very easily. Or maybe it is actually getting chilly. Anyone else reaching for an extra layer when they go out?
And yet I’m in my perpetual never-happy-with-whatever-season-I’ve-been-given mode. Spring is gone? But what am I to do with half a dozen strawberry recipes I want to try? Summer closing in on us? But! But! Wait! There are still tomato recipes sitting untouched on my desk, watermelon sorbet promised and forgotten about, and cobbler – Andrew’s favorite dessert, that I’ve been meaning to make all summer and yet until now, have failed to deliver. How does one forget to make her boyfriend’s favorite dessert? Shouldn’t courtship ensure that such thing are moved to the top of the priority list?
Alas, blueberries are no longer at my farm-stand. But clever girl that I am, I froze a few pints and kept them for those moments when blueberries are called for (like pancakes), but are no longer in season. Frozen blueberries store remarkably well, given that it’s a hearty berry with thickish skin. There are still a few bags of these gems sitting around and awaiting their fate.
Last weekend, when we were blissfully lazy, soaking up the last few days of summer and making good use of the long weekend, I suddenly remembered my promise to Andrew that I would make blueberry cobbler. It was sort of a last-minute memory, but one that decided that evening’s dessert. [Did I mention that this household respects its dessert?] Cobblers are forgiving, quick, messy desserts. They’re rustic, unpretentious, messy, unfussy. They are in my preferred family of desserts where their beauty lies in their imperfections. A little drip on the side of the pie dish. A crumb or two on the plate. A messy piece heaped onto a plate and topped with a scoop of ice cream that immediately begins to melt to bleed into the blueberry filling, spreading itself out into a creamy blue rivulet on your plate. I could eat that mess every day.
And since I’ve a few bags of frozen summer berries in my freezer, come winter there’ll be a cobbler or two served around here. It’ll be decidedly out of season, but much like a tropical vacation mid-winter can seemingly shorten the winter season and cure the snowy blues, so shall blueberry cobbler – reminding us of summer, sun, picnics in the park, and the golden summer light that seems to go on forever.
Adapted from “Baking: From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 stick (6 tbsp) cold, unsalted butter, cut into little bits
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
5 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
4-5 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Black Pepper Vanilla Ice Cream (for accompaniment)
Center your baking rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch deep dish pie plate, and place it on a baking sheet line with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Drop in the butter and, with your fingers, toss the flour around the butter to coat. Quickly, working with your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients, until the mixture is pebbly. You will have pea-sized pieces, pieces size of oatmeal flakes, and pieces in between – that is the right texture you’re looking for.
Pour the cream over the dry ingredients, and toss gently, turning the ingredients with a fork until you’ve a very soft dough forming. As your dough comes together, you’ll have some dry ingredients still at the bottom of the bowl. Just incorporate those dry bits into the dough with your hands until all is evenly blended. At the same time, take care not to overwork the dough – a few dry spots is okay than a dough where the glutens have been over-activated. Your dough should feel soft and sticky.
Turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and cover with another piece of plastic wrap. Gently press the dough, with a rolling pin, into a circle about 9 inches in diameter. Transfer the dough onto a cutting board and plate it in the refrigerator to chill while you prepare your fruit.
To make your filling, toss all the ingredients together in a bowl so that they are all well mixed. Turn the fruit onto the buttered pie dish. Remove your dough from the refrigerator. With a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut a few circles of the dough and place it on top of the berries. Using the smallest cookie-cutter circle you’ve got (or a shot glass), cut a few smaller circles from the remaining scraps of dough and place them in between the larger ones to “plug” the holes so to speak. A few remaining openings should remain – it allows your cobbler to “breathe” as it cooks. Think of them as slits in the dough, were you to use the piece of dough as a whole as topping.
Bake the cobbler for 60-75 minutes, or until the top is golden brown (if using whole piece of dough as topping, look for the top to puff up). Transfer the cobbler onto a cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.
You can serve cobbler at room temperature, or still warm – with ice cream.