Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Strawberry Cobbler

The cuisine of the American South is appreciated for its down-home, gustatory excellence, showcased in a favourite of ours, chicken pot pie.  Fruit cobbler, an upside-down cake, is a delicious, easy dessert from that region.  I prefer the cake batter version instead of the sometimes used American biscuit dough.

Look at that fabulous caramelized bottom crust which is the top surface when baking.

Since my cooking bible, Fannie Farmer's Cookbook, had cobbler recipes for every kind of fruit imaginable except for what is now being harvested frantically in my potager, that is, strawberries, I resorted to researching the Net.

The harvest quickly escalated to the peak of 4 quarts daily, now slowing down to 3!

I grow three varieties of strawberries presently.  It is always good to diversify via varieties for disease prevention and to get a more prolonged harvest. Two June-bearing varieties, Gariguette and Sengana are on the left with an ever bearing, the jumbo Willemse Savoureuse on the right.

Following a recipe that seemed to be the kind I wanted, that is, a cake batter one,  I made something resembling more like a clafoutis.  It was soggy and heavy in texture, but drenched with strawberry goodness, so we had no problem gobbling it up.  Its use of lemon juice and zest to liven up the cobbler was something I took away to apply to the recipe that I wound up using.

An entirely edible first attempt

Since lack of strawberries were no problem, I had another go, this time using the recipe from Fannie Farmer, following her directions for berry cobbler even though strawberries were not listed as one of the fruit substitutions.  The proportion of flour to milk was much higher and the amount of strawberries were less which made me hope that it would result in more of a cake texture with the strawberries staying put on the bottom.

The 1987 edition of my kitchen's holy book

Oh my!  It worked out exactly the way I imagined--fragrant, ruby-red sauce bubbling under fluffy yellow cake. I had thought her using an ample amount of salt was overdoing it, but it was the perfect amount, intensifying the flavour.

  • Flour, white, 1.5 cups*/215 grams
  • Baking powder, 2 tsp
  • Butter, sweet, 12 Tbls
  • Sugar, 3/4 cup*/150 grams
  • Salt, 3/4 tsp
  • Strawberries, fresh, sliced, 3 cups*
  • Milk, 1/2 cup/1 dL
  • Egg, 1
  • Lemon juice, freshly squeezed, 1 tsp
  • Lemon zest, 1 tsp
  • Cream, ice cream, fresh sliced strawberries for garnishing
*American unit measure, that is, 8 oz

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C. Wash, hull (always done after washing to prevent them from getting soggy), and slice strawberries. Dry them if they will not be sliced right away.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a small pan and spread evenly on the bottom of an eight-inch square pan.

Place the sliced strawberries on top of the melted butter. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of the salt with 1/4 cup of the sugar and sprinkle along with lemon juice on the strawberries

Mix together the flour, baking powder, remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt along with lemon zest in a large bowl.

Melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of the butter and remove from the heat, adding the milk and egg.  Beat well.

Add the liquid mixture into the dry one and beat until smooth.  It will be very thick but still fluid.

The batter will pour like ribbons over the berries which will need to be concealed. I had to angle the batter bowl when pouring to accomplish the perfect cover-up.

Bake about 30 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean and the top is wonderfully carmelized.  Cut into squares and serve bottom side up.

My insisting we needed to test its edibility while the cobbler was warm, tepid, and cold, triggered this quip from The Calm Onehow about testing it for each degree of change in temperature?  It was best warm, still very good tepid, and more like delicious candy when served cold.

Tepid cobbler topped with fresh, sliced strawberries and drenched in lightly beaten cream

Coffee ice cream goes very well with warm strawberry cobbler

Besides strawberries, the pea harvest is coming in presently.

Though I will use them for specific recipes, like fresh pea pesto and fresh pea soup, I like adding them to already existing menu items like Scotch Broth.

In the flower garden, roses and peonies are showing off their frilly, pink dresses.

Queen Elizabeth hedge rose, peonies, and lavender

Red roses deepen the colour palette.

Deep red, nearly black in part, velvety L'etoile de Hollande, a robust climber with an astounding Damask fragrance.

Dayo unfortunately still needs to be kept indoors because of a paw injury, and he continues to help me in my indoor duties.

Here he is resting after his strenuous reading of a large French cookbook & alerting me to the best recipes

He also acts as my professional adviser on which bed linens from the cupboard I should choose.

À la prochaine!


Growing strawberries
Individual, top crust strawberry pies with dark-chocolate ganache
Eton Mess...and how to make strawberry coulis
Strawberry heart scones