Friday, August 21, 2009

Bumbleberry Cobbler

It's really hard being a dessert writer on a diet!!! Especially in the summer, when the produce beckons... and so another lowered fat recipe gets born! And when you're dieting, you sure don't want to spend hours in the kitchen working on that lowfat recipe, when you should be out jogging or playing golf - to work off the calories you are about to put into your mouth. It's back to the farmer's market to see what they have that would work well in my mixed berry (mostly) cobbler. I've loved the peaches and nectarines from Fruit Bat Produce. You can see Elaine's lovely peaches with the fruit pandowdy recipe ( or the Magic Cobbler recipe (, but today I'm just going to buy some of her beautiful, green, mountain apples. I think they'll work nicely to provide some texture to this berry dessert.
farmersmarket 001 Here you can see Elaine, from Fruit Bat Produce, with her wonderful apples, apple butter, figs and barely visible, her peaches. She's at the Meeting Street Farmer's Market near Ballantyne, Charlotte, NC.

One of the problems with cooking berries (especially acidic strawberries and raspberries) is that cornstarch doesn't work that well to thicken it. Flour can get gummy, and tapioca isn't widely used or available. To help combat this, I've added more cornstarch, but also a little hot water which will dissolve the cornstarch and get it cooking faster. The cobbler needs to come to a boil so that the cornstarch can thicken. The pectin in the apple will also help a little to thicken the cobbler. But this is a runny cobbler - no doubt about that!! Because the cobbler has so little fat in it, I've used cake flour, which will help keep it tender, and I'm also making a very soft dough, which will rise higher, make it lighter and also more tender. Although light on fat, it's still got a lot of calories, so if dieting is your aim, eat less of the sauce and have only as a special treat!

1 pound strawberries -- washed, hulled and sliced
6 ounces raspberries – washed
1 pint blueberries – washed
1 apple -- peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup sugar

1/4 cup hot water

Cobbler Batter
1-1/2 cups (150 grams) sifted cake flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon transfat-free shortening (Crisco not butter-flavored), cold or frozen
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold

3/4 cup buttermilk, cold
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup (32 grams) bleached flour, measured by fluffing, scooping and leveling
1 tablespoon skim milk
1 teaspoon sugar
Preheat the oven to 425°F., with an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Have ready a decorative 2-quart casserole dish.
Combine all of the fruit, cornstarch and sugar in the casserole dish, and stir to combine. Let macerate while you make the cobbler topping. Just before placing the biscuits onto the fruit. stir in the hot water.
To make the cobbler batter, mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knifes, cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Use your fingers to break up any lingering lumps.
In another bowl, mix together the buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk, while stirring with a fork and to make a mixture that looks like cottage cheese.
Place a thick sprinkling of the bleached flour on a plate. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop up a ball of dough and place it on the floured plate. Sprinkle the top liberally with some of the flour.
Flour your hands, pick up a dough ball, and rock it side to side in your hands to both coat it with flour, and knock off any excess. Gently transfer it to the top of the fruit. Flatten it slightly. Continue shaping and placing the biscuits until the whole top is covered.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the cobbler from the oven and lightly brush the top of the biscuits with some of the skim milk, using just enough to moisten the tops and brush away any residual flour. Sprinkle lightly with the sugar. Return the cobbler to the oven and cook another 5-10 minutes until the biscuits are crisp and dry and the juices are bubbling up. The juices must be bubbling or the cornstarch will not thicken the berries and the filling will be too runny. Remove it from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Eat the cobbler while still warm. The cobbler can be made 1 day ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Cover with foil and bake at 350°F. for about 15 minutes. Uncover and cook another 5-10 minutes until the filling is warm and the top is firm.
Per Serving: 319 Calories; 4g Fat (10.9% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 69g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 5mg Cholesterol; 298mg Sodium.


Lori Lynn said...

It looks wonderful.
Good luck on your diet, Penny.

Penny Eisenberg said...

I had a reader state that I shouldn't say the produce is Elaine's because she isn't the grower. The reader is correct that Elaine doesn't grow the fruit herself. Here is Elaine's response:
The comment was correct - I do not grow the apples. 98% of my produce comes from my friends, Donald & Delilah Ayers of Ayers Orchard in Cana, VA. Ayers is a certifided Virginia Century Farm which means the family has been orcharding on the land for over 100 years. Most of the varieties they grow are antiques like the Georgia Bell Peach and the Virginia Beauty Apple that are hard to find anywhere else. Their neighbors, the Flemings, provide my cabbage and potatoes and two Charlotte women provide my figs.

2/3rds of the sprays used on the fruit are organic soaps and oils. Conventional sprays are only used when absolutely necessary. The family lives in the orchard and Donald is out among the trees every day. I could find fruit closer to Charlotte, but I travel to Cana (10 minutes into VA) because of the number of older varieties and lower amount of chemicals used.

I am the only reseller of Ayers fruit in NC and am very proud to be so. Stop buy and have a sample soon!

Elaine Pruitt
Fruit Bat Produce