Saturday, March 8, 2014
Even though the wintry weather is walloping us again with a forecast of three more days of snow, I had visions of summer-- of balmy days spent sipping cool drinks, cooking fish on the grill and dipping into a bowl full of local berries.
Well dream on. But there is something I could do to conjure up visions of summer dining. I still had a supply in my freezer of local blackberries, which I would mix with wild Maine blueberries to put into a cobbler. The very notion of a mess of local berries spoke summertime to me loud and clear.
My stash of blueberries from last summer was gone, but good local frozen berries are readily available at many supermarkets. I found some at Hannaford, in fact, grown and harvested in Cherryfield, the so-called wild blueberry capital of the world.
Local frozen blueberries from Cherryfield, Maine, in the strainer to thaw
In the morning I put both the blueberries and black berries into a strainer set over a bowl to drain. By late afternoon, they were thawed, leaving plenty of fresh berry juice in the bowl.
I had a berry cobbler recipe called Black and Blue Berry Cobbler from last year that I hadn’t gotten around to trying. I adapted the recipe from Midstate Mills, the Southern Biscuit flour company written about earlier this year.
It called for preparing a sweet pastry dough with which you would line a baking dish by patting it in to fit.. This can be a tricky maneuver. Make sure your dough is moist otherwise it wont’ handle easily. Lightly dusting your hands with flour will also help to handle the dough. In any case don’t worry about this crust looking picture perfect. In fact, the finished dessert is not what you think.
The berry mixture is put into the "rough" pastry case in the baking dish and covered with the crumble mixture
Just out of the oven, the cobbler needs to rest for about 10 minutes before serving
The berries are mixed with sugar, flour and a touch of cinnamon and put into the pastry-lined pan and then topped with a crumble mixture. It‘s set to bake for about an hour and 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the berry mixture is bubbling.
The surprise is that the cobbler is more cake like than flaky pastry. This is because the dough has baking powder, egg and a lot of sugar, resulting in a very buttery, rich casing for the berries.
Berry-rich cobbler with cranberry orange ice cream
In the end it was really a winter’s version of a berry cobbler. But I served it with some refreshing cranberry-orange ice cream that Catbird Creamery, a new ice cream company in Westbrook, whose all natural pure ice creams are fantastic (available at Aurora Provisions). But that’s another story to be told soon.
Black and Blue Berry Cobbler
2 cups all-purpose flour
l teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 tablespoons ice water, or more
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pint blackberries
1 pint blueberries
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, cubed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease an 8 by 8 inch square baking pan with butter.
For the crust, whisk together the flour, baking powder and sugar. Cut in the butter until the size of peas. Add the egg and water, adding more if needed to get the dough to form into a ball. Press the dough into the bottom of the baking pan and along the sides. Set aside.
For the filling, combine the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Stir in the berries until they're evenly coated. Spoon the filling into the crust. Set aside.
For the topping , in a medium bowl whisk the flour, sugar and cinnamon until well combined. Cut in the butter until the mixture begins to form large crumbs.
To finish, sprinkle the topping over the berries, covering the berries completely. Put the baking pan on a baking sheet and bake for 1 1/2 hours or until the topping is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbly. Let rest for ten minutes. Serve warm with vanilla or berry ice cream.
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.