While we come together to focus on books and writing, part of being a member of a co-op is that you get to know the other members. Most of my fellow Amelia Indie Authors know me as a cook and a foodie. In fact, I wonder how that is going to play into our pre-event activities when we’re able to get back to the in-person book events on the island. So, in anticipation of feeding them, I started thinking about blueberries.
Living in the south has given me a new view on blueberries and it only makes me love them more. When I lived in the northeast blueberries came at a specific time and then, just like that, they were gone. August was the peak of the season for those New England blueberries. One of the many things that didn’t occur to me when I migrated is that southern blueberries arrive earlier.
Picture a blue wave, rising on a map of the United States: local southern blueberries, then the mid-Atlantic region, followed by the northeast, and then, finally, Michigan. And they all taste different. But we get months of good fresh blueberries because they grow sequentially from south to north. Every year I enjoy this rising tide of blueberries.
Blueberry Pie or Berries in a Bowl?
I have picked blueberries in New England and I have picked them in Florida. Not only are these very different experiences, but they also yield very different blueberries. New England blueberries are smaller and slightly tart. Firm and a little bit sour. (Probably the way lots of southerners view New Englanders.) This combination of characteristics makes them a great berry for pies. In contrast, Florida blueberries are big, round, and sweet. (Again, apply appropriate regional stereotype here.)
Can you picture those cooking magazine photos of fat, sexy berries in a bowl with whipped cream or ice cream? Florida berries, for sure. Sure their soft, sweet nature makes them mediocre for pie-making… they’ll require some pie sort of “stiffener,” but they taste wonderful. Try some chocolate ice cream with blueberries and pecans. Yummy.
I am a baker. This is probably not the place to debate the merits of crisps, crumbles, and cobblers but, when we have soft blueberries, I’m inclined to put together a cobbler with biscuits to soak up all that berry juiciness. You will see from my recipe, however, that you don’t want your biscuits getting mushy by soaking up the juice too soon!
Blueberries for Baking
If you are planning to use those big, sweet blueberries to make a free-form tart or crisp you might want to combine your berries with peaches to give your filling some body. By the way, in my humble foodie opinion? A peach and raspberry fruit dessert is good enough to make a grown person cry.
At some point, I probably should write about the relative merits of crisps, crumbles, and cobblers. And, of course, let’s not forget about the buckles and brown Bettys! In the United States, crisps and crumbles are often thought of as the same. A crumble is topped with a streusel of flour, butter, and sugar combined until crumbly and put on top of the fruit to bake.
Crisps generally also include the addition of oats, corn flakes, nuts, or some other crispy element to the streusel. Brown Bettys are layered spiced fruit and crumbs and buckles are generally baked with a batter on the bottom and fruit and streusel on top which will cause it to “buckle” as the fruit weighs it down. Cobblers are called that because the biscuit dough dropped on the top is not a smooth layer but is, rather, cobbled looking.
But today the local blueberries are on the way and I have cobbler on the brain so here is a basic recipe for a blueberry cobbler. And, better still, it can be modified to have gingered biscuits – oh yes, please!
Trienah’s True Crime Cobbler
For the filling you will need:
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 TBL cornstarch
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 6 cups fresh blueberries (with the leaves and stems picked out)
- 1 ½ tsp grated lemon zest plus 1 TBL lemon juice
Ingredients for the biscuits:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 TBL stone-ground cornmeal
- ¼ cup sugar plus 2 tsp for the sprinkling mixture
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 4 TBL melted unsalted butter
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
(To make gingered biscuits add 3 TBL minced crystallized ginger to the flour mixture and substitute ground ginger for cinnamon in the sprinkling sugar mixture.)
Put the oven rack in the lower middle and preheat to 375°.
To make the filling stir the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Add the berries and mix gently with a rubber spatula until they are evenly coated. Add lemon zest and juice, and mix to combine. Transfer the filling to a 9” pie pan, place it on a baking sheet and bake until filling is hot and bubbling at the edges, about 25 minutes.
For the biscuits whisk flour, cornmeal, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl (and if you’re making the ginger biscuits this is where you add the minced, crystallized ginger). Whisk butter, buttermilk, and vanilla in a small bowl. Mix remaining 2 tsp of sugar and the cinnamon (or ginger) in a small bowl and set aside.
Here’s the method for making sure your biscuits don’t get super soggy on the bottom. You’re going to drop the biscuits onto the hot fruit.
About a minute before the berries come out of the oven, add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined — with no dry pockets. Remove berries from oven and increase the oven temp to 425°. Pinch to make 8 equal pieces of biscuit dough and place them on the hot berries, spacing at least ½” apart (they should not touch). Sprinkle the top with cinnamon/sugar (or ginger/sugar) mixture and put them back in the oven until bubbling and biscuits are golden brown on top and cooked through –- about 15 to 18 minutes.
Cool on a rack for 20 minutes and serve.
Serve it Warm
Blueberry cobblers are heavenly served on the warm side. Make fresh whipped cream with a whiff of vanilla and a pinch of sugar (yes, that is technically a Chantilly cream but let’s not haggle over the details). Of course, if you’re not going to make whipped cream or Chantilly cream, blueberry cobbler is delicious with some good quality vanilla ice cream.
By the way, if you should start to have a cobbler craving outside of blueberry season, I’ve got you covered. Thaw 36 ounces of frozen blueberries. The good news is that Cook’s Illustrated tests multiple brands and recommends you keep either Wyman’s, Cascadian Farms or Whole Foods frozen berries on hand for those emergency off-season cravings.
To make the frozen berries work in a recipe like this one, drain the juice from the thawed berries– about a cup. On the stove using medium heat, reduce it until thick and syrupy — about 10 minutes. Follow the recipe above but mix this syrup into berries, increase the first oven time to 30 minutes and the biscuit timing to 20-22 minutes.
Voila! Now you can have a spring cobbler during hurricane season — or even when it is snowing.
Please be Sweet and Give it a Tweet!
Can you picture those cooking magazine photos of fat, sexy berries in a bowl with whipped cream? Florida berries, for sure. Sure their soft, sweet nature makes them mediocre for pie-making... Click To Tweet
About the Author
Trienah Meyers is a member of Amelia Indie Authors and a singer, blogger, cook, friend, and editor. She is a writers’ online resource for #legal and #crime crime procedures. Committed to lifelong learning and travel she writes short non-fiction on several topics. And, she says, “if you have baking questions or want more recipes, message me. We’ll talk cooking.”