Mixed Berry Cobblers
Happy 4th of July everybody! I hope you have something fun cooked up for yourselves!
I’ve been waiting for this day! Well, more precisely, I’ve been waiting for this month. We’re in full-berry season now! Oregon’s own deep-red-to-the-core strawberries, plump sweet blues and earthy blackberries, and delicate deep-pink raspberries. Why not put them all together and bring them to the picnic? I’ve got some wonderful simple ways to enjoy the fruits of berry season, but I’ll begin here, with these little mini-cobblers. Maybe something like this will make it to your 4th of July table.
But if not today, then maybe soon, while the berries are sun-filled and still sweet with summer.
Mixed Berry Cobblers
(Makes enough for about 8 servings)
These cobblers can be made in little ramekins or mini-casseroles, or mini-cocottes (like the one pictured above.) Or if you’d prefer, you can make one large 2-quart cobbler. The directions up until the end are identical.
- 1-1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading surface
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 Tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 1/2 cup cold whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar (or vanilla sugar – see NOTE at bottom of recipe)
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 7 cups mixed fresh berries (but not more than 1-1/2 cups of strawberries) (if the strawberries are large, cut them in half)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped of its seeds – (berries love vanilla, but this is a completely optional addition)
- Vanilla Ice-Cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream (with a dash of vanilla extract)
Preheat your oven to 400°F; place the rack in the middle position.
Prepare the filling: In a large bowl whisk together the cornstarch and sugar (and the seeds from the vanilla bean if using.) Add the berries and toss to coat evenly. Spoon the mixture into small pots to within 1/2-inch of their tops, or into a 2- quart casserole.
Make the dough: Whisk together the sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter, and using your fingertips, rub the butter in with the flour until the resulting mixture resembles a coarse meal, with butter pieces the size of small peas or smaller. Add the milk and stir just until dough forms. Gather dough together into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface where you’ll knead gently 5 or 6 times. (Add flour to the board if necessary to keep dough from sticking.)
If making mini-cobblers: Pat the dough to about 1/2-inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter the appropriate size for your mini-casseroles, cut out enough biscuits to cover your cobblers. Place them on a parchment-covered cookie sheet or jelly roll pan and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until fruit is bubbling up and tops are nicely browned. Allow to cool for at least 15 to 20 minutes before topping with vanilla ice-cream or slightly sweetened whipped cream.
If using a 2-quart casserole, cut into 8 roughly-equal-sized pieces and place them atop the fruit, leaving little gaps in between for the berries to bubble up through. Place casserole dish on a parchment-covered cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until berries are bubbling up and top is nicely browned. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before topping with ice-cream or slightly sweetened whipped cream.
Vanilla NOTE: Berries are complimented by vanilla, and the truer the vanilla, the bigger the compliment! I keep a jar of fine sugar with a vanilla bean tucked inside. It infuses the whole jar with its nose-filling, come-hither aroma, and if you keep topping off the jar with more sugar as it gets used up, the same vanilla bean will continue to flavor the sugar for at least a year. I’ve also just started my own bottle of homemade vanilla extract. Here’s how I was told to do it: Put a whole vanilla bean that’s been split open but left intact into a jar and then cover with “spirits”. Vodka makes a delicious vanilla extract and doesn’t impart any specific flavor to it, whereas bourbon and rum can also be used but lend their own character to the resulting extract. Cover tightly and put in a dark place for 6 months before using. Again, top off with more liquor as needed. (You won’t often find me putting in plugs for certain vendors, but every once in a while I feel I owe it to you to do that…here’s one. I get my vanilla beans from The Spice House on-line. http://www.thespicehouse.com The quality of the beans is excellent and the price is as good as any I’ve found. And the selection of herbs and spices they offer is exhaustive! And wonderful.)