In late summer the trails of the Cevennes Mountains as well as the lower regions of the garrigue where we live are lined with fruit filled wild blackberry bushes. Although the berries are mostly left to whither on the vine by locals, I thought I would give them a try in my favorite Cook’s Illustrated cobbler recipe. The local berries may lack the juiciness and sweetness of cultivated varieties, but they do have a certain earthiness that makes the cobbler worth the effort of collecting the berries.
6 cups berries – picked over and rinsed
¼ sugar – adjust sugar according to the sweetness of the berries
½ T lemon juice
1 T cornstarch
½ t cinnamon
1 c unbleached flour
3 T yellow cornmeal
¼ c sugar for batter plus 2 t to sprinkle on top of biscuits
1 t baking powder
¼ t baking soda
¼ t salt
1/3 c buttermilk, room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ t vanilla extract
1/8 ground cinnamon
1. For the filling: Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400°. Combine the ingredients for the filling in a deep 9 inch pie plate or baking dish. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the fruit releases its liquid and is bubbling around the edges, about 20 -30 minutes.
2. For the biscuit topping: Whisk together the dry ingredients (except for the 2 t sugar and cinnamon). In a separate bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. Make sure that the melted butter and the butter milk are both about room temperature so that they combine more easily. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined and set aside. Do not overwork the batter.
3. When the fruit is ready remove it from the oven. Divide the dough into eight equal hand-formed biscuits, and gently arrange them on top of the berries, spaced about ½ apart. Combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle on top of the dough.
4. Continue to bake the cobbler until the biscuits are golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.
September 10, 2012