Blueberry calm for a crazy world
Truth is stranger than fiction. If you need proof of this old adage, tune in to the Michael Jackson trial. Throughout this event, something has been said or done on an almost daily basis that is not just strange, it’s downright bizarre!
The longer the hearing lasts, the more I feel a need to counteract it with things that are simple, straightforward, and even a little homey and old-fashioned.
So, the Michael Jackson court case drove me to make the blueberry cobbler featured in this column. It is about as wholesome and uncomplicated as you can get.
This recipe makes a particularly good one, for the topping is similar to that of a sugar cookie. This assures a crisp, sweet pastry to offset the tartness of the blueberries. And that’s not all it has going for it; it is quick and very easy to make.
The recipe is adapted from one in The Best Recipe, by the editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine.
The cobbler should be served warm and it cries out for vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt as an accompaniment. You can make it ahead and then reheat it, in either the oven or microwave, just before serving.
Enjoy every juicy bite and, as you do, join me in giving thanks that we are nowhere near the Neverland Ranch.
Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude.
The cobbler can be made in either a 9 inch, deep dish, round pyrex pie plate or in a square 8 inch (2 quart) baking pan. I prefer to use a glass or ceramic pan, for they seem to cook the fruit more gently than metal ones and you don’t need to be concerned about a reaction between the berries and the metal.
8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 yolk from a large egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder, scant ( a little mess than the whole measure)
A pinch of salt
2 pints fresh or 24 ounces frozen blueberries (use the unsweetened, individually frozen berries that come in a bag)
1/2 cup sugar
2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, depending on whether you like the fruit mixture juicy or thick. Use 2 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch if you prefer a thicker filling or if you use frozen berries, which seem to produce more liquid.
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the center position.
Beat the room-temperature butter and sugar with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. You can do this by hand if you have to, but it takes a while to get the mixture light and fluffy.
Beat in the vanilla and the egg yolk until smooth. This is done more easily if you mix the two together in a small bowl before adding them to the butter-sugar mixture.
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and stir into the batter until it is just combined. Refrigerate the dough while you make the filling.
In a large bowl, mix the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and vanilla until well combined.
If using fresh berries, wash and pick through them, and add them to the bowl. If you are using frozen berries, add them to the sugar mixture without defrosting them-right out of the freezer. Toss the berries until they are well coated with the sugar mixture and the sugar mixture is evenly distributed.
Using a rubber spatula in order to prevent bruising the fruit, scrape the fruit and sugar mixture into the pan. Because the filling is so liquid, there is no need to grease the pan.
Drop pieces of the dough evenly over the fruit in heaping tablespoons. Make sure that pieces of the batter are not touching; they are going to melt and spread as they bake.
Bake for about 45-60 minutes, until the all of the topping is golden brown and the berries are bubbling and thickened. Timing will vary depending on the pan you are using and your oven. So, start checking at about 43 minutes.
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