Thursday, July 09, 2009

Baking Class: Upside Down Cobbler

Many years ago my sister and I drove down to Houston from Austin to visit my brother and his girlfriend (now his wife). They had been dating for a while, but had only recently moved in together, and if memory serves it was the first meal she cooked for us. On the menu were lemon-pepper chicken breasts that were tart and savory and quite delicious. For dessert, she mentioned there was peach cobbler.

I am not generally a cobbler person. My mother's cobblers were basically just a lot of cooked fruit with no bottom crust and a pie crust laid over the top. Since the crust was the only thing that made a pie worth eating to me, cobbler was just a waste of fruit with too little of the good stuff to go with it. So I was not looking forward to dessert, but I didn't want to offend my possible future sister-in-law.

What she brought out did not look like any cobbler I had seen before. The top looked more like a cake than a crust, so I was intrigued. And the ratio of fruit to cake seemed weighted on the cake side, which was much more to my liking. The fruit was enveloped in the batter, which was soft and moist, and not too sweet. The canned pie peaches tasted much better to me than regular canned peaches, whose overly sweet taste and slimy texture was something I struggled to get down whenever my mother served them. And the scoop of vanilla ice cream served over the top took the cobbler over the top as well.

I found myself asking for the recipe, and not because I was trying to suck-up to my brother's girlfriend.

In the next few years, I made it often. I discovered early on that I could substitute any can of prepared pie filling (blueberry and cherry became my favorites) with the same spectacular results. It is easy to throw together, and other than the pie filling I always had the rest of the ingredients on hand.

One of the things I liked the most about it, though, is that you put the batter on the bottom and the fruit on the top, and while it is cooking the batter rises up over the fruit and comes out on the top, but the fruit is mixed in with the batter as well so it is a cohesive piece, rather than a mess of fruit with a small piece of pie dough laying on top of it.

After I moved to Chicago, I forgot about it for several years. By the time I had rediscovered it, I was eating more healthfully, and when I read the label on the canned fruit pie fillings, they were loaded with HFCS and chemicals, and I couldn't bring myself to buy them.

But seeing all of the blueberries, strawberries, and rhubarb at the green market inspired me to see if I could adapt the recipe for use with fresh fruit instead of the canned pie filling. It was surprisingly easy. I have made strawberry, rhubarb and blueberry cobblers and I am so pleased with the results. I'm hard pressed to say which is my favorite. And when peaches come into season, I will happily add those to the mix.

This makes a small cobbler, so it's perfect for those times when you need something fast and delicious. It also keeps well, if it lasts that long.
Serves 4

2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, slice strawberries, or chopped rhubarb, peaches or apples
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 300 deg. F.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add oil and milk and whisk until smooth. Pour into a 1.5-quart or a 10 x 6-inch greased baking dish.

Place fruit, sugar and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil. Pour over the batter and place in the oven.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake is set and browned on the edges.


BertandFelix said...

Made your cobbler with cherries...yummy!! It was such a fast desert too. Thanks for the post!

dejamo said...

I'm so glad you liked it! Cherries and blueberries are my favorites for this, but the good news is you can use pretty much whatever fruit you have available when you want it. And it does whip up fast, doesn't it?

And I love the pineapple upside down idea. I'm going to play with that for sure!

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