While I dearly love food — eating, cooking, growing, canning, baking, shopping, ogling, etc. — there are really only a few desserts that turn me into a dangerous fork-wielding maniac. I generally prefer savory food to sweet. I can’t put down a really good, crusty bread. I will eat a giant bowl of tabouli without pausing to breathe. Cheese, bacon, cabbage, nuts — I can’t be stopped. But sweets? I love making them but generally find that I’m sated with just a small bit of the finished product.
Except for two very specific dishes. Tiramisu we can discuss at another time, but suffice it to say I make very very good tiramisu. Today I want to discuss cobbler. Specifically berry cobbler.
I love berry cobbler in a way that would sustain a marriage for 50 passionate years. But mind you, it has to be GREAT. There is nothing worse that a shitty, soggy, tastes-like-paste cobbler. And I have been angered by plenty of these.
The best cobbler, to my belly, is also the simplest. And the best recipe is Meme’s Blackberry Cobbler, from the very excellent cookbook Bon Appetit, Y’all by Virginia Willis. Even Martha agrees.
I pretty much follow the recipe, though I make changes depending on what I have available. For example, today I desperately wanted cobbler but also desperately wanted to not go to the grocery store. So I used three cups of frozen mixed berries and tossed them with 1/3 cup of sugar mixed with 1 T corn starch because they were *really* juicy. (NB: I generally hate corn starch and do whatever I can to avoid it, but sometimes I give in and use it when soupiness would ruin the dish). I also used bread flour today because I ran out of AP and, for the first time in decades, I did not have any more in the pantry because for some weird reason I intentionally bought rye flour instead of AP last week. Yep. I make awesome shopping decisions while pregnant.
Anyhoodle, here’s the basic recipe. You can use fresh or frozen berries. You can use other fruits, too (peaches, cherries, etc.). I usually add lemon zest to berries, fresh grated nutmeg to cherries, and almond extract instead of vanilla for peaches. ENJOY!
Meme’s Blackberry Cobbler from Virginia Willis’ Bon Appetit, Y’all
Serves 6 to 8
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 4 cups fresh blackberries
- 1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Whipped cream, creme fraiche, or ice cream, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in a large cast-iron skillet or ovenproof baking dish, in the oven, 5 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, place blackberries in a large bowl. Using a potato masher, mash blackberries to release their juices. If blackberries are tart, sprinkle with sugar.
In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add 1 cup sugar, milk, and vanilla extract; mix until well combined. Remove skillet from oven and add melted butter to flour mixture; stir to combine. Pour mixture into skillet and pour blackberries and their juices into the center.
Transfer skillet to oven and bake until top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the batter comes out clean, about 1 hour. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with whipped cream, creme fraiche, or ice cream.