One of the great things about a cobbler – it’s supposed to be unstructured. It’s not only ideally suited to cooking in a less-than-meticulous manner, it can also be approached pretty much however you want to do it. I’ve cooked it twice, two completely different ways, just this week! Batter-first with fruit poured in (like a pie). Fruit cooked and then covered with a layer of cake. And then there’s this method – Fruit cooked, and then dough hap-hazardly “dolloped” in (yes, that’s a word). The only advantages I can see for one over the other is that when you start with fruit-cooking it effectively preheats the oven and shortens bake time. But it IS baking, so unlike my previous dutch oven recipes, this one requires coals on the bottom AND on the top – it’s really an oven and not just a cast iron pot.
I created a short (4 minute) film of the process, link below. If you want the full recipe, read on!
You can, and should, certainly do this with foraged wild blackberries – they’ll be ripening in the next few weeks. But, our adventure started with a trip to the local berry farm to reap the bounty of commercially cultivated blackberries. You don’t usually think of blackberries as something that is differentiated between “wild” and not – but these berries were three times the size of wild ones, the vines had no thorns (big plus), and were ripe and juicy whereas wild ones are just now starting to ripen up. Call me a cheater – but we were able to pick 10 lbs. of berries in about 20 minutes. That’s scientific progress in my book. We picked so much, I’ve had to make a lot of cobblers – again, no complaints!
- In a dutch oven, boil water, sugar and cornstarch for 5 minutes. Add blackberries; cook uncovered until they burst. (Note: you’re essentially making syrup here, and the concoction will take a while, and lots of heat, to dissolve the sugar and to boil – you might need extra heat just for this step. A bed of coals the size of your oven bottom is about perfect, but be prepared to replenish the coals for baking.)
- While berries are cooking, combine dry ingredients in a gallon ziplock bag. Cut in shortening; mix with milk until the consistency of thick pancake batter.
- Cut a corner off the bag, and drip dollops of batter into the fruit mixture. Cobblers aren’t supposed to be pretty!
- Cover the dutch oven. Replenish the coal supply underneath with an even layer, and pour coals on top to just cover the lid (not heaping). Cook for 25 minutes, or until batter has an appropriate cake consistency.
Every 10 minutes or so, rotate the oven – spin the oven a quarter-turn one way, and then the lid a quarter-turn the other way, without opening the lid. This prevents a sustained hot spot from burning your cobbler.
When the cake is done, pull it off the heat and let it cool. This is great with ice cream – particularly when you drizzle the blackberry sauce over it.
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