March 24, 2009
I'll be honest right away and say that I don't know exactly what a cobbler is (or a grunt, or a slump, or a buckle - but they all sound amazing). I know it has something to do with fruit and something to do with a biscuit/scone dough that co-exists with the fruit. In America, it seems, the fruit sits on top of the dough, which then puffs up around it during cooking to form a solid mass of cakey, cobbler-y goodness. In England, apparently, a cobbler involves a dough that sits on top of the ingredients (which are often savoury); this dough isn't left as one mass, but is cut out into separate shapes. And that's the kind of cobbler I've made, and eaten with great satisfaction: a gooey, aromatic, dark pink soup of softened apples and blackberries, topped by cinnamon-spiked scones, which in turn are sprinkled with demerara sugar.
This recipe was enough for me to make four individual cobblers. Officially the dough should be shaped into rounds and overlapped over the fruit, but I liked shaping mine into leaves. Something fantastic happened to the scone-leaves during cooking: they puffed up and became crunchy with the sugar on top, but almost melted into the fruit underneath.
Blackberry & Apple Cobbler
Adapted from here
For the fruit filling:
700g cooking apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
25g butter, melted
4 tbsp caster/superfine sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
For the cobbler topping:
225g self raising flour (or 225g plain flour plus 2.5 tbsp baking powder)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of salt
100g cold butter, diced
50g caster/superfine sugar
5 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp demerara or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F. Put the apple slices and blackberries in a bowl and drizzle over the melted butter. Sprinkle with the sugar and lemon juice, then mix together to coat the fruit. Pour the fruit into a well-buttered, deep ovenproof dish (about 1.5 litre capacity).
To make the cobbler topping, sift the flour, cinnamon and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the butter and rub in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (this could also be done using the pastry blade on a food processor). Stir in the caster sugar.
Reserve 1 tbsp of the milk, then mix the rest with the egg and add to the dry ingredients. Stir together with a round bladed knife or fork to make a soft dough. Stop stirring as soon as the dough comes together, then lightly knead on a floured surface for a few seconds until smooth.
Roll out the dough to 1cm thick (just under half an inch) and cut into about twelve 4cm (2.5 inch) rounds (or use a cookie cutter to shape them, as I did). Arrange the scones, overlapping as necessary, on top of the fruit, brush with the reserved milk and sprinkle with the demerara or turbinado sugar. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C / 350°F and continue to bake for another 20 minutes or until the scones are cooked and golden brown and the fruit is tender. Serve hot or warm.