Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Big Berries That Come In First

Every year the berries down the driveway, near the road, are the first to flower and the first to bear ripe fruit. They are also the biggest berries of the season.

 Since they were here when we moved in I really don't know the variety, but I suspect that they are boysenberries. What I do know is that they are juice and sweet and have an intoxicating fragrance. This year since we had enough rain over the fall and winter they are also prolific. I have already picked a half dozen pints and have barely made a tiny dent in the number available right now, ripe and soft and full of juice. There are also many hundreds that have just begun to get red, and some still green. I may even make jelly this year there are so many!

One of the easiest ways to bake with these berries is to make a cobbler. The fruit gets mixed with a bit of sugar, if needed, and some lemon zest or orange zest and then cooked in the oven until hot. A cobbler mixture, which is just biscuit dough and sugar with a little extra milk or water, is spooned over the hot berries, then the whole thing is baked until the topping is golden brown and the berries' juices are bubbly. If you like you can sprinkle on some sparkling sugar for a bit of shine and crunch on the topping. Be sure to let the whole pan cool down just a bit before serving because those juices can burn your tongue! Been there and done that.

I like to serve my cobbler with a scoop of ice cream. This time I used a nice soy based, non-dairy vanilla from Double Rainbow. The cold ice cream makes a nice contrast to the hot cobbler.

Boysenberry Cobbler
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 to 2 pints boysenberries, washed and drained (or you can use blackberries)
sugar to taste
1/2 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
Your favorite biscuit recipe, with 2 tablespoons brown sugar added and an extra 2 tablespoons milk
(I used soy creamer instead of milk)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a small baking pan. (I use a ceramic one that holds 4 cups)
Place the berries in the prepared pan and sprinkle with the sugar (if needed). Cover pan with foil and bake 10-15 minutes. Fruit should be hot and have release some of the juices.

While fruit is baking, mix together your biscuit recipe, adding the brown sugar to the dry ingredients and the extra milk to the we ingredients. The end result should be drop biscuits with dough that falls off a spoon.

Remove fruit from oven and uncover. Drop mounds of the dough evenly over the hot fruit, leaving some space where the fruit peeks through. If desired sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons sparkling sugar over the dough. Uncovered, return the baking pan to the oven and bake about 20 minutes until the topping is golden brown and the juices are bubbly.

Let cool 5 minutes, then serve. Garnish with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Last, but not least, here is a photo of an intense red poppy in my garden:

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