Friday, July 22, 2011

Blueberry Cobbler experiments

I have a lot of organically grown blueberries, because I went to Hidden Springs Orchard near Cookeville, TN, and picked about 12 pounds. I froze them, and I've been thawing out one package a day lately to make cobbler.  The first recipe I tried was from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.  His recipe calls for 4 cups of blueberries,  a cup of sugar, and a batter made out of flour and egg.  There is no butter in the "biscuit" topping, and I thought the topping was sort of dry and flavorless.  (I reduced the amount of sugar in this recipe and substituted honey for some of it, so that could have been part of the problem.)  Also, the fruit part was kind of runny; there was no thickener such as cornstarch or tapioca.  Maybe if I had added more sugar it would have been better.

So today I went back to my old recipe, which I got in an unusual place: a novel/memoir called Bastard Out of Carolina.  In that great book by Dorothy Allison, she describes how her mother made a blackberry cobbler in an iron skillet.  I have a lot of blackberries every summer too, so I tried that recipe and loved it.  You cook the blackberries with some butter and sugar in the iron skillet until they get juicy, then you put biscuit batter on top and put the skillet in the oven to finish cooking it. Couldn't be simpler.

Today I tried that same method with blueberries, with a few tweaks. First I cooked the blueberries in the skillet with some butter, honey, and a small amount of minute tapioca, until the blueberries had cooked down slightly. Then I made a thick cornbread batter, half way between biscuit dough consistency and cornbread batter.  The cornmeal came from my own crop of field corn two years ago. I dried the kernels in the oven and then ground them into meal in my electric grinder.  I had some great local buttermilk to put in the batter. In fact, almost all the ingredients in this cobbler were local except for the pasture butter from Wisconsin. Here it is:

I thought that this version was superior to the first cobbler.  The blueberries were slightly thickened by the stovetop cooking and the minute tapioca granules. The cornbread topping was the perfect consistency, and the whole thing was not too sweet.


  1. My grandmother did the whole thing on the stove with a biscuit dough--like drop dumplings on stew. It didn't get brown but it tasted wonderfully fresh and fluffy.

  2. I've wondered if that would work.