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Summer Fruits Mean Summer Cobblers

Summer Fruits Mean Summer Cobblers

 

            Cobbler refers to a variety of dishes, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom, consisting of a fruit or savory filling poured into a large baking dish and covered with a batter, biscuit (or scone in England) before being baked. Some cobbler recipes, especially in the American South, resemble a thick-crusted, deep-dish pie with both a top and bottom crust.

            Cobblers originated in the early British American colonies. English settlers were unable to make traditional suet puddings due to lack of suitable ingredients and cooking equipment so instead covered a stewed filling with a layer of uncooked plain biscuits or dumplings, fitted together. The origin of the name “cobbler” is uncertain, although it may be related to the now unused word of “cobeler” which meant wooden bowl. Early colonist were so fond of these juicy dishes that they often served them as the main course, for breakfast, or even as a first course. It was not until the late 19th century that they became primarily desserts.

            In the United States, varieties of cobbler include the Betty, the grump, the slump, the dump, the buckle, and the seldom heard - sonker. The crisp or crumble differ from the cobbler in that their top layers are generally made with oatmeal.  Grunts, pandowdy, and slumps are New England and Canadian Maritimes varieties of cobbler, typically cooked on the stove-top or cooked in an iron skillet or pan with the dough on top in the shape of dumplings—they reportedly take their name from the grunting sound they make while cooking. A buckle is made with yellow batter (like cake batter), with the filling mixed in with the batter.

             Apple pan dowdy is an apple cobbler whose crust has been broken and perhaps stirred back into the filling. The sonker is unique to North Carolina: it is a deep-dish version of the American cobbler. In the Deep South, cobblers most commonly come in single fruit varieties and are named as such, such as blackberry, blueberry, and peach cobbler.

            Brown Betties are made with bread crumbs (or bread pieces, or graham cracker crumbs), and fruit, usually diced apples, in alternating layers; they are baked covered, and have a consistency like bread pudding.

            However you make it or whatever you call it, all of these delicious combinations contain fruit. Including fruit in your diet has several benefits. Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None have cholesterol. Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients that are under consumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid). Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.  Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. The dietary fiber from fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease.

            All of these desserts have some common element. Nearly every one involves fruit, butter, sugar and flour in one way or another. Such as the following recipe for an in-season fruit – peaches with an unusual technique for adding the topping.

 

Peach Cobbler

 

Yield: 9 to 12 servings

3 pounds fresh peaches, sliced, or 2 pounds frozen sliced peaches
Juice of 2 lemons
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
⅔ cup buttermilk
½ teaspoon almond extract
Vanilla ice cream for serving

            Preheat oven to 375°F. Put the peaches, the lemon juice, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, the cornstarch, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg in a large bowl; toss to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch square pan and bake for 10 minutes.

            Meanwhile, combine the flour, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder, the salt, and the baking soda in a medium bowl. Add the butter and blend with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and almond extract and stir just until combined.

            Remove the pan from the oven and drop the batter in large, evenly spaced dollops on top of the peaches. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over the batter. Continue baking until the topping is golden brown and the peaches are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

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