Cobbler: A Clarification

Here on the brink of summer, when the markets and roadside stands are about to offer the finest peaches and blackberries in the world, it’s time to brush up on making a cobbler, in my less-than-humble opinion the best way to bring these fruits to the table.

No doubt most of you line a deep dish with a crust, fill it with stewed fruit, top it with another crust—likely one of those cute but fussy lattice types—and call it a cobbler. You can do that, and you would find yourself in agreement with most professional cooks, people who write cookbooks and other types of riff-raff who claim to know their way around a kitchen, but if you ask me—go ahead—this constitutes nothing more than a deep-dish pie. The dish I know of as a cobbler is made with stewed fruit, yes, but does not have a crust as such, meaning one that is made of cut rolled-out dough. My cobbler, instead, is made of stewed fruit and sweet dough made into dumplings, and those that rise to the top of the fruit during cooking brown, giving the dessert a wonderful pied (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) topping, but the most wonderful part is the mixture of fruit and sweet, spongy dumplings below the surface. In the  Midwest, where dowdy is not only endemic but pervasive, this is called a pan dowdy, and New Englanders, with characteristic lyricism, refer to it as a “slump” or a “grunt”.

The recipe is simple, and like most simple recipes, more procedure than ingredients. First stew four cups of fresh fruit in eight cups of simple syrup. Stone fruit, particularly peaches, and berries, particularly blackberries, make the best cobblers, though I had a pineapple cobbler that was wonderful, and I knew a lady who made an awesome cobbler like this out of canned fruit cocktail that was absolutely psychedelic.

For four cups of fresh fruit make six cups of simple syrup and flavor with a teaspoon vanilla; nutmeg is also a nice touch. Stew the fruit in the syrup just enough to infuse the syrup with its flavor, and while hot transfer to a deep baking dish. Make biscuit dough using sweet milk and sugar, knead lightly and roll out to about half an inch, cut into strips, drop by pieces into the hot fruit/syrup mixture and bake in hot (400) oven. Spoon syrup over the dough as it cools. If you don’t serve this with anything other than vanilla ice cream the devil will drag you to hell by your short hairs.

5 Replies to “Cobbler: A Clarification”

  1. That seems more a confusion than a clarification. I agree with you that a bottom and top pie crust dough in a casserole is a deep dish pie. A cobbler has no bottom crust but a thick top pie dough, lattice or solid, and we’ll dotted with butter. It may be made in a round casserole deep dish, but commonly in a big square or rectanglar casserole dish or pan. The browned crust crumbles wonderfully when broken and served with a large spoon. What you have described is a delicious fruit dumpling made with dropped biscuit dough. A variation is to add cranberries or blueberries to the dough. You can call any of these whatever you want. But if I saw the terms I suggest on a menu anywhere in the country, the above is what I would expect in each of the three cases.

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