Fresh Apricot and Cherry Cobbler

by Susan Russo
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cherryapricots.jpgWhen I saw that 20-foot-long table covered with plump, brilliant red cherries and velvety soft golden apricots I audibly gasped (hey, I wasn't the only one). Then I turned to Jeff and said something like, "I'm making an apricot and cherry pie when we get home! Or should I make a crumble? Ooh-ooh, I know, how about a cobbler?" See what I mean? Waaay too excited.

We decided on a cobbler. I wasn't sure what I wanted to use for the cobbler top, but I didn't have to search too long. My mom and dad had recently sent me Nick Malgieri's How to Bake. When my mom realized I didn't have his book, she was shocked:

"What?! How could you not have Nick Malgieri's book? I love his book! Well, that's it. Your father and I are going to Border's this weekend to get you one," she said.

"Mom you don't need to--" I started to say.

"Susan, listen to your mother," she said.

A week later, the book was in our mail box.

Though Malgieri's book isn't new, it's a treasure trove of classic dessert recipes. Considering that he is an award-winning author of 5 cookbooks and has been the director of the baking program at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC for the last 12 years, I think he knows what he's talking about. I like the way he covers baking basics such as how to make flaky pie dough and perfect tarts and how he offers suggestions for variations (like Dorie Greenspan.)

cherryapricot.jpgSo here is my mildly adapted version of Nick's Cobbler with Buttermilk Biscuit Crust. I made a spicier, sweeter fruit filling and cut out circles of biscuit dough for the top instead of making one solid crust.

This cobbler is a comforting, old-timey dessert. From the moment you smell the sweet buttermilk biscuit topping baking in the oven to the first taste of luscious, warm, sweet apricots and tangy cherries, you'll want to sit out on a rocking chair on your grandmother's porch and listen to her spin tales from her youth.

Fresh Apricot and Cherry Cobbler with Buttermilk Biscuit Crust
Makes 6-8 servings.

Filling:
3 pounds ripe fresh apricots, about 15
1 cup pitted fresh cherries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, optional
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Buttermilk Biscuit Crust:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cake flour (I just used all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2/3 cups buttermilk

Glaze:
1 tablespoon buttermilk, cream, or milk
1 tablespoon sugar

Garnish:
2 tablespoons raw sugar crystals, for sprinkling on top

Place rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Use a 9 or 10-inch pie plate or a 1 1/2 quart deep oven-proof baking dish.

To make the filling, lightly cut an X on the bottom of each apricot and place them into a large pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl of ice water. If the apricots are ripe, the skins will slip off easily. If not, then use a sharp paring knife to remove the skins. Cut each apricot into 5-6 wedges and place in the baking dish along with the pitted cherries.

Combine sugars, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg; pour over the fruit and stir gently. Add dots of butter all over the top of the filling. Set aside while preparing dough.

To make the crust, combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Cut the butter into 8 or 10 pieces and rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal (or pulse in a food processor fitted with a metal blade). Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk. Stir gently with a fork, being careful not to overwork the dough (or it will become leaden.) Let the dough stand in the bowl for a couple of minutes to let the flours absorb the liquid.

Flour a work surface and turn the dough onto it. Fold the dough over itself 2 or 3 times, until smoother and less sticky. Lightly re-flour the work surface and roll the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. For circles, using the top of a drinking glass or a round cookie cutter, make about 12 rounds. Gently place the rounds on top of the filling, slightly overlapping the edges. Brush with glaze, and sprinkle with raw sugar crystals.

Alternatively, you could make a full top crust by rolling the dough out slightly larger than the size of your baking dish. Trim excess dough and flute the edges of the dough at the rim of the dish. Make 4 or 5 (1-inch) slashes in the center of the dough.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbling gently. (For easy clean-up, you may want to place a sheet of tinfoil on the rack under the baking dish to catch any drips.) Cool before serving. Cobbler is best served warm or at room temperature. It can be enjoyed plain or with some whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

 

Susan Russo is a free lance food writer in San Diego, California. She publishes stories, recipes, and photos on her cooking blog, <Food Blogga and is a regular contributor to NPR’s <Kitchen Window. She is also the author of  Recipes Every Man Should Know and The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.

 

 

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