[Cobbler, before the oven, July 2008.]
Well, that was an inauspicious 4th. I baked brownies, zipped up my jacket tight against the chilly breeze, wished for a sun that never made an appearance, and took them to a party where I ate: grilled veggie burgers, cupcakes, and quesadillas (not necessarily in that order). I had one (1) beer (Sierra Nevada) and eventually came home to eat more sweets and tumble into the couch to avidly watch three episodes of ‘Rome’ — I guess I have a thing for period dramas on HBO and elsewhere, because I am now hooked and impatiently awaiting the Netflix delivery of Season 2. During a break in the action we took our glasses of wine up the roof in an attempt to catch the fireworks but alas! It is San Francisco and July nights are foggy and cool. I could hear them thumping along somewhere near the bay, but I certainly couldn’t see them.
As I bemoaned earlier today, weekends seem to pass too quickly. Though I had some work-y type stuff to do, including cooking and photographing some dishes for a story I’m working on, there were also a few days of sleeping in, a few runs in the sunshine, a yoga class, lots of HBO, some socializing, some hours lazing on the couch — enough so, that I feel like I need about 10 more days to really sink into that weekend-feeling. But now it is Monday again, back to work again, back to racing to meet deadlines again. To help sweeten this return to reality, however, I have a nearly-whole cobbler waiting for me at home and rumors of a hot spell set to descend upon the Bay Area, bringing with it a few days of real summer.
I made two cobblers last year for Independence Day (when I lugged a lot of food up to Sebastopol and attempted to grill on a mini barbecue and drank vodka-lemonades with home made basil-infused syrup against the pressing heat); perhaps it’s becoming a July 4th tradition? And since cobblers have their roots both in England and early America (I just learned, thanks to our old friend wikipedia, that cobblers baked in a cast-iron pan are called ‘grunts’ or ‘slumps’ which makes my weekend variety more than just mere ‘cobbler’) I think whipping one up around the 4th is mighty appropriate.
My Saturday morning farmers’ market yielded a lot of peaches, nectarines and blueberries, so I decided those would form the base of my cobbler, sweetened with just a bit of turbinado sugar (because my market was out of organic sugar in the bulk bin, darn it) and layered with some slivered almonds for crunch. The biscuits perched atop were thick and tangy with buttermilk (and thankfully not too sweet) and so simple to throw together. This recipe is bit more rich than the one I made last year but I think it’s a worthy option, though I the next time I’d try a teaspoon of vanilla and some lemon zest to perk up the topping and give it a bit more depth. But those biscuits do bake up wonderfully fluffy and light, and the fruit underneath melts into them just so …
At any rate, it’s hard to argue with a warm bowl of fruit and cake topped with ice cream (or whipped cream) — it just might become my (summer) weekend steady.
Summer fruit cobbler
I think any sort of in-season fruit would be delicious here — experiment! I plan to use blackberries later next month when they’re in season.
For the filling:
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 nectarines, sliced
2 peaches, sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 cup sugar
For the biscuits:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice the fruit and put in a cast iron skillet. Add the cup of sugar and almonds and toss well to combine.
Mix the dried ingredients together in a large bowl. Cut in the butter in pieces, crumbling it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk, mixing just enough to combine. Drop the dough in an even layer over the fruit and place the pan in the oven. Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes until the fruit is bubbly and the biscuits and lightly browned.
Serves 8, preferably with vanilla ice cream.