Get Baked: Summer Berry Cobbler With Buttermilk Biscuit Crust

A couple of weeks ago I went to bed a normal, moderately well-adjusted woman with many hopes and ambitions. I awoke to a different world, a different me. My hopes and ambitions had been reduced to one single thing and it was all I could think about: my grandmother’s peach cobbler. Not a peach buckle or a peach crumble or a peach girl bait. A peach cobbler. And not your peach cobbler or the peach cobbler you can get at the hipster barbecue place or even all the peach cobblers a person could make using all the recipes from the first fifty pages of results when they searched “peach cobbler” on google. It had to be my grandmother’s peach cobbler: roughly 33% dough, 33% peaches, and 33% butter. The kind of peach cobbler that vanilla ice cream weeps for. The reason spoons were invented. Mema’s peach cobbler.

I texted my mom for the recipe and asked Megan to bring home a box of peaches ASAP. I made sure we were flush with butter. I told the kids, KIDS I’M MAKING A PEACH COBBLER. Everything was in place.

Then I froze. Trying to emulate my grandmother’s peach cobbler? Had I lost my mind?? IT’S NOT POSSIBLE TO REMAKE HER PEACH COBBLER because I’m not good enough! No one’s good enough. Oh man. I put it off for days while the pile of peaches sat on the countertop. My children lost hope. Megan doesn’t even like peach cobbler so she was fine, but I was miserable. So much longing yet so much fear! Like having sex for the first time or something. I had to come to terms with the fact that the peach cobbler I would make wouldn’t be my grandmother’s peach cobbler. It might not even be close at all, but it would be a) a peach cobbler and b) in my mouth, and in the end, that’s what felt most important. Also my grandmother would’ve hexed me if I’d let those peaches go bad.

The cobbler I ended up making was on the scale of OK/Good, but as predicted, even an OK cobbler is better than no cobbler, and I learned a thing or two. For example, cobblers are like the stew of desserts, in that you kind of can’t fuck them up, really. Once you know your preferred ratio of sugar to fruit to crust, you have all cobblers at your command. You are the cobbler king, my friend. What will you do with this power? Maybe you will find that your local grocer has put strawberries and blueberries on sale this week, and you’ll make this delicious cobbler so we can be cobbler twins!

berries

Let’s make things with these!

Summer Berry Cobbler That You Deserve

Filling:

4+ Tablespoons salted butter, cubed or pinched
3-4 cups of blueberries and sliced strawberries (I used one small 6oz package of blueberries and one 16oz package of strawberries)
1/3 cup white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
pinch of salt
kettle of boiling water

Buttermilk Biscuit Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons super cold salted butter, cubed
1 cup buttermilk (or scant 1 cup milk + 1 Tablespoon vinegar, whisked together and rested for 10 minutes)

Also:

9″ cast iron skillet
2 Tablespoons butter (or more)

1. Line the bottom rack of your oven with foil to catch the filling when it boils over, then preheat it to 350 degrees.

2. Do you have buttermilk? I salute you if you do. I never have buttermilk because a person can only make and eat so many buttermilk biscuits in the week it takes a carton of buttermilk to go bad, and so I always end up throwing it out, which is a damn travesty. I make my own buttermilk by whisking one tablespoon of vinegar in with enough milk to equal a cup and then letting it sit for 10 minutes while it curdles. If you need to make your own buttermilk, now’s the time!

Making my own buttermilk stuff!

Making my own buttermilk stuff!

3. Cut up all your fruit and instagram a picture of it in a bowl so all your friends know that you’re living your best life. Mix in the sugar and salt and set it aside, preferably near a sun drenched window because you deserve only the most beautiful views right now.

IMG_4735_Fotor

4. Put the kettle on. You’ll need at least a cup of boiling water, more if you decide to do this in a larger baking dish. What music are you listening to? I hope it’s something lovely.

5. Crust time! Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, food processor [or two knives in a crisscrossing motion if you hate yourself and want this to take forever], cut the very cold butter into the flour mixture until it resembles cornmeal and/or you get bored. If you were making actual biscuits with this recipe (because that’s what it is, a tried and true recipe for perfect biscuits), you’d want to really mix it in and make it as uniform as possible, but kid, you’re making a cobbler. This is so chill.

flour

As the original biscuit recipe states, the key to perfect biscuits — or in our case, crust — is that you don’t overwork your dough. Combine the flour mixture with the buttermilk just until it’s mixed and not a moment longer. It should be sticky, wet and fluffy.

mix it

dough

6. Put the two tablespoons of butter into the skillet and pop it into the hot oven. I like to obsessively monitor my skillet while it preheats, but this is also a good time to get everything set up in one place so it’s easy to assemble the cobbler once the skillet is hot and your butter has browned slightly. You should have a bowl of sugared fruit, some cut up butter (or you can pinch it off a little chunk at a time like Mema did), a bowl of fluffy wet dough, a couple of spoons for scooping the dough, sugar for sprinkling, and a kettle of boiling water.

That's browned butter in the skillet. I realize it might look weird in this picture, but it's just browned butter, AKA the Lord's work.

That’s browned butter in the skillet. I realize it might look weird in this picture, but it’s just browned butter, AKA the Lord’s work.

7. Once the butter has browned, you’ve removed the pan from the oven and you are ready for this jelly, spoon about half of the dough into the skillet so that it mostly covers the bottom. Don’t do this all in one go like you’re pouring cake batter — you’re going to create a bumpy bottom crust one spoonful at a time. Then dump all the fruit on top of the dough, followed by enough boiling water to almost cover the fruit. Distribute the butter about as evenly as a person can, then create the top crust the same way you did the bottom, one spoon at a time until it’s pretty much covered, then top that with a heavy sprinkle of sugar. Your skillet will be very full at this point, so be really really careful when you move it to the oven.

Clockwise from top left: dough on the bottom; berries; butter; boiling water, more dough and sugar.

Clockwise from top left: dough on the bottom; berries; butter; boiling water, more dough and sugar.

8. Bake for around 45 minutes, until the crust has browned and the filling has thickened. Then give so much praise and thanks to seasonal fruits and the spirits of our grandmothers AMEN.

cobblerrrrr

You have earned this.


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Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and she thinks you're fucking rad. She's 36, has two kids, two dogs, one Megan, some personal essays and a lot of emails in her inbox. More at LaneiaJones.com.

Laneia has written 658 articles for us.

31 Comments

  1. 0

    oh thank god for this post it reminded me i need to make my grandma’s sweet corn cobbler before summer ends! i live in iowa. seriously what kind of person would i be if i didnt make sweet corn cobbler? i need to get my life right.

    my mom always adds citrus zest to her cobbler dough (usually orange but really any citrus works). so if you are interested in a little variation, i highly recommend trying that at some point.

      • 0

        it is fucking transcendent but also so simple it’s stupid. basically it is creamed corn with biscuits on top. your recipe for biscuits would work great and the basic steps are the same except you would be cooking the corn down in your skillet first which means you dont really get a layer of dough down on the bottom. although i dont think anyone or anything could stop you if you wanted to cook the corn down in the skillet first, transfer it to a bowl, and then start with a freshly buttered skillet for the baking part.

        now the main thing to know is that corn doesnt actually need milk to be creamy. my grandpa grew sweet corn in the backyard so it was always incredibly fresh and sweet and all you have to do with fresh sweet corn is grate it and cook it down. it gets creamy all on its own because CORN IS MAGIC amen. you will use all the butter in creation but no milk is needed just some stock so there is enough liquid for the dough to soak up while baking (if you want to be extra fancy, you can make corn stock from cobs by cooking the cobs with some bay leaves in water). she would also at some point add some extra kernels of fresh corn to the corn that had been cooking down for a while to get a mix of delicious corn textures. if you dont have fresh sweet corn on the cob, you can use frozen but you will probably need to add milk and flour to make it creamy. i have used herbs like sage, parsley, and thyme when making this before and it is good, but my gma never used anything but salt and pepper (oh so much pepper) to season so that’s how i prefer it.

        these are terrible directions maybe? i am not v good at this. procedural writing has never been my strong suit as a confirmed lifetime meanderer and approximater. my partner is a scientist with a great deal of respect for precision and data and she cant even watch when i bake things and forget giving her directions for anything. but dont let my inadequacies in this area stop you from making it! you seem like a cobbler professional so let your instincts and tastes be your guide and it will be amazing. if i make it in the coming days (which seems inevitable at this point), i can take a picture and post it here!

        • 0

          lomy this sounds so amazing i could actually cry. please post pictures if you make it soon! i’ve never heard of corn cobbler or even corn stock and this has seriously changed my life! CORN IS MAGIC.

          my mother is going to lose her mind over this.

          • 0

            y’all i finally maaaaaade it and i promised pics so here they are! i did put a layer of dough on the bottom and it worked great however i didnt think about needing to make more dough for the top so it is a little sparse up there (sometimes i do things that are so duh it hurts but live and learn etc). but guys basic math mistakes aside, i think it is clear from the photos i have presented you with today that you all need this in your lives. possibly tomorrow. and make the corn stock it is totally worth the extra step. i am currently drinking it from a mug for breakfast it is just that good. if you have room in your freezer, make a lot and freeze it. you will want more of this stock for fall/winter trust me on this.


            necessary close-up of the cobbler’s edge: the best measure of true corn cobbler success and also a great band name if anyone needs one.

            oh and that reminds me! speaking of music! laneia, i feel like since you asked you might care, i listened to sharon van etten’s “tramp” while making this and i have to say i cried real tears during “we are fine” because you know what? we really are fine. esp when the promise of cobbler and communing with dead grandmothers is always right around the corner.

    • 0

      rachel i’m resisting the urge to try to persuade you to buy a lodge brand cast iron skillet so you can know true happiness! and instead will say that if you make this in a glass dish, you’d probably need to skip the step of melting the butter in it first, and instead grease the entire inside of the dish with cold butter. then go forward with the rest of the steps. the cool part to using glass is that you’ll be able to see when the bottom crust is browned and that’s another good indicator that your cobbler is done!

  2. 0

    Godammit you’re such a good writer. Even when you’re writing about recipes.

    Point number two is that I have never experienced a cast-iron skillet cobbler or even knew they existed but now the last image is lodged in my lizard brain demanding that I make some. I grew up with cast iron skillets and mason jars (BEFORE THE HIPSTERS DAMMIT sorry for all the swears) and I can imagine the taste and the aroma.
    Mom was from the South and when her mom visited she brought a box of pecans from the tree in her yard, and also made us giblet gravy. We liked the pecan pie better.

    My neighbors were named Bethel and RayMoe and Bethel was maybe 60 years old and used to stick her dentures out at us to make us laugh. She was a sheriff in a small town in Oregon in the 1950s but we didn’t believe her so she showed my sister and I, ages 8 and 6, the take-down move she used which is like a leg sweep and some kind of judo hold and instantly deposited us laughing onto the summer lawn. In the fall she helped us chuck apples into a bucket that had fallen from a giant apple tree between our properties. Mom made apple pies and eventually I made apple pie but I feel like Bethel probably had a kick ass cobbler recipe and I will think of Bethel whenever I think of peach cobbler since your article made me think of her, and hopefully also make myself some peach cobbler thanks to your column here. So, thank you for reminding me of these memories.

    How can anyone not like peach cobbler, Megan? :O It’s like people who don’t like chocolate: how?

  3. 0

    I love it when you write recipes because they are more than just recipes. Also this “cut up all your fruit and instagram a picture of it in a bowl so all your friends know that you’re living your best life” is so real.

    I wish Radiohead had called their album “OK Cobbler” instead of “OK Computer”

  4. 0

    This sounds delicious! I was just thinking about peach cobber, because local peaches are abundant here in SC right now. Should you want to try actual buttermilk, I have found that the lowfat (1.5%) kind keeps in the fridge for two weeks or more once opened, giving you more time to make delicious things with it. Besides biscuits, it’s great in pancakes/waffles (both of which freeze well for a quick breakfast or snack later) and as a marinade for breaded baked chicken (or fried chicken or onion rings). I usually add mustard, a squeeze of lemon, minced garlic, and minced onion to the buttermilk when I’m marinating chicken – coat it well and let it sit in the fridge, turning periodically, for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days. Then dredge in breadcrumbs, cornmeal, crushed pretzels, instant potato flakes, or another coating of your choice and bake or fry.

  5. 0

    I started making this basically as soon as this was posted, with some ground cherries I had waiting to be used in place of some of the berries. Next time I would double the crust recipe because I don’t know if I have a huge pan or what, but it wasn’t quite enough. So good, though, and such a soothing recipe style.

  6. 0

    We just got one in the oven.
    I’ve never imagined that my GF will bake anything, but OMG she did it. Some little help with reading the recipe out loud, and with spooning dough all over was on my side.
    WOW! She made a cobbler for me… ^__^

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