Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Cobblers taste like summer



The Associated Press

Take a good measure of ripe, juicy berries, cook until soft and bubbly, top with a rolled crust and bake. That's a traditional cobbler. Or is it?

Your aunt may have put a thin batter all over the cooked fruit, maybe peaches, and baked it until it puffed up to a sweet golden brown. That's a cobbler, too.

Your grandmother may have rolled out rich biscuit dough and perched the biscuits over the bubbling fruit and that is also a cobbler. Some cobblers have a bottom crust; some cobblers put the fruit on top of the batter, which rises to cover it.

So, just what is that tasty bite of Americana, the cobbler?

A cobbler is the most basic of recipes. The name comes from the term to "cobble" together, to throw together ingredients you might have at hand to create a great-tasting dish.

Cobbler recipes handed down through generations as family favorites are often brought out at the height of summer. That's when fruit is ripest and works best in cobblers, since you want plenty of sweet juice to go with the crust or biscuits. Berries are a great choice for cobblers whether you use them fresh from the field or out of your freezer.

The triple-ginger biscuits in this cobbler add a note of rich sophistication to the old favorite, with the heightened spice and sweetness of three kinds of ginger.

Raspberry-Blackberry Cobbler with Triple-Ginger Biscuit Topping

FRUIT

11/2 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 cups fresh or frozen blackberries

6 cups fresh or frozen red raspberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

BISCUIT TOPPING

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

3/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

To prepare fruit: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. In a large bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch, lemon peel and cinnamon. Add berries and lemon juice; toss to blend. Transfer to prepared dish. Dot with butter. Bake until mixture begins to bubble, about 30 minutes for fresh berries, 45 minutes for frozen berries.

To prepare topping: Mix flour, crystallized ginger, powdered ginger and grated fresh ginger, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, lemon peel and salt in a medium bowl.

Using fingertips, work in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Or process in the bowl of a food processor for 30 seconds. Add cream; by hand or with processor, stir until dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth, about 6 turns. Roll out to 3/4-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out biscuits. (You may use any shape cutter desired.) Reroll dough scraps; cut out additional biscuits.

Place biscuits atop hot fruit, spacing closely. Mix 1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl; sprinkle over biscuits. Bake cobbler until biscuits are golden, about 25 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 12 servings.




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