Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Spring Berries In A Cobbler

The blackberries are going to be amazing in about a month. The flowers are larger than usual and there are four or five times as many as most years. I might even make enough blackberry syrup to keep for the winter.

Right now we are enjoying the berries of spring which are either olallieberries or boysenberries or another similar berry. The vine grow down by the road and are mixed in with grape vines and mint, so picking them mean peeking under grape leaves as well as berry leaves and then a sudden rush of mint smell when mint leaves are bruised either underfoot or because they are in the way of nabbing that perfect, large, ripe berry nearby.

These berries are a dark raspberry red when ripe, the juice sacs are large and they come easily off the vine when ripe and don't leave any part behind like raspberries do. They tend to be a bit tart, even when very ripe. Last week I made a nice cobbler with a couple of freshly picked pints of them. It really is easy to make a cobbler, especially with fruit that has a lot of juice. The basic method is to bring the fruit to a boil, usually in the oven, then place dollops of cobbler batter over the hot fruit. The topping bakes into something closer to biscuits than dumplings, but the part where the batter sits on the fruit soaks up some of the juices as it cooks while the top of the cobbler gets nice and golden brown. You may want to taste the fruit before starting the recipe. If it's too tart you add some sugar at the beginning of cooking so it melds with the fruit by the time you top with the cobbler batter.

Fruit Cobbler

2 pints fresh berries, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Sugar to taste
Shortening or spray oil for greasing the baking pan
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 - 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold butter

Optional- sanding sugar and / or sliced almonds to top cobbler batter.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease a 9x9-inch baking pan. Set aside.

Pick through the berries, discarding any that are falling apart or moldy.Put the berries in a large bowl and sprinkle with the flour and with any sugar being used to sweeten the berries. Toss gently with clean hands.

Put the berries in the prepared baking. Cover pan with foil and bake in oven until fruit is hot and released juices are bubbling, about 15 minutes.

While fruit is baking, in a large mixing bowl combine the flour, self-rising flour, salt and brown sugar.

In a smaller bowl combine the buttermilk and almond extract.

Cut the butter into about 10 pieces, then work the cold butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, two knives, of your clean fingers. Worked mixture will have mostly very small particles of flour/ butter with some slightly larger, dried pea sized bits of butter. To this mixture add the buttermilk mixture, stirring quickly with a fork, just until liquid is absorbed. You should have a soft dough. Add a little more buttermilk if you still have dry flour mixture in the bowl.

Remove the hot fruit from the oven and remove and discard the foil. Place dollops of the cobbler over the surface of the hot fruit. If desired, sprinkle with sanding sugar or sliced almonds.

Return baking dish to hot oven and bake until cobbler is golden brown, about 12 - 15 minutes.

Cool on a rack at least 10 minutes. Fruit will be very hot! Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish if desired with cream, custard, whipped cream, or ice cream.

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