It is the middle of July and a young boy is in the kitchen helping his grandma assemble a tasty summertime treat. Peaches are in season, so his grandma has decided that a peach cobbler would really hit the spot on this sweltering Saturday afternoon. Adorned with a soothing scoop of vanilla ice cream, this cobbler and ice cream combo was sure to help melt away the stifling heat and humidity, while simultaneously satisfying the proverbial sweet tooth. The cobbler we would make is exceedingly easy to assemble and has only a few short steps. Even the most amateur cooks could keep up with this simple recipe without feeling any bit of intimidation. There is one incredibly important rule that must be followed if you wish to have a successful and visually appealing cobbler – don’t stir!
Fast forward from my grandma’s kitchen to the present day. It is late April and the weather is cloudy and unseasonably cool on this Sunday in central Virginia. Clouds are hanging low in the sky, obscuring the mountain tops in the distance. The sky hints at the promise of rain, but has so far only delivered meager amounts of the life-sustaining liquid. It is on days like this that I dream about the warmer summer days that surely aren’t lurking too far in the future. With those warmer days in mind, I find myself dreaming of the foods that are associated with those summer months. I can’t help but to remember and be comforted by the memories of my grandma’s peach cobblers. With that serving as my inspiration, I went in a new direction after I had a burst of berry creativity. Peaches are out. Berries are in. Not just any berries either. Blackberries. Not to be confused with the smartphones that are vastly inferior to the iPhone. We are talking about beautiful, plump, sweet blackberries.
Aren’t they gorgeous? Since they photograph so well, I thought we should look at them again. So, without further ado…
Aside from eating them straight from the container, I can think of no better way to prepare these sweet treats than to put them in a cobbler. A cobbler with only a few simple ingredients and one simple rule – don’t stir!
Here’s what you’ll need to make this summertime dessert:
3 pints of fresh blackberries
1 stick of unsalted butter
1 cup of sugar (plus a few more tablespoons for the berries)
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of self-rising flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
I like to start by getting the berries ready. To do this, dump all 3 pints of blackberries into a pot. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the berries and put them on the stove over a low heat. Add in your teaspoon of vanilla extract, which will give a very subtle flavor of comfort in the background. You don’t want to cook the berries, but you do want to give the berries a chance to soften and mingle with the sugar. It’s absolutely acceptable to stir at this point.
After a few moments on the stove, the sugar will start to mix with the berry juices to create a sweet syrup. All of this will only help to intensify the flavor of your cobbler.
Remove the berries from the heat and set them aside for a few moments while we whip up the batter. This next part couldn’t be any easier. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 stick of unsalted butter in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish. Yes, the whole stick. If you’re going to make this dessert and truly appreciate the way it was meant to taste, the butter is a necessity. If you skimp on the butter, I can’t be held responsible for the less-than-stellar outcome of your cobbler creation.
Place the baking dish with the butter into the oven while it is still preheating. The gently warming oven will begin to slowly melt your glorious hunk of fat, turning it into a rich, golden liquid.
Keep peeking in the oven, because it will only take a few minutes for your butter to melt. You certainly don’t want to burn it, which can happen very quickly if you’re not paying attention. After a few short moments in the oven, your butter will have gone the way of the Wicked Witch of the West. It will now be a nice puddle of buttery goodness.
My love affair with butter must be pretty obvious at this point. After all, I devoted just as many pictures to the butter-melting process as I did to the actual blackberries themselves. The blackberries are still the stars of this dish, but the butter is certainly a very crucial cobbler co-star. Plus, Paula Deen would be proud of y’all.
Now it’s time to dump the other ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add one cup of self-rising flour and the cup of sugar. Whisk those together until they are combined.
Next, add the cup of whole milk. Now, grab that whisk! It’s time to whisk it. Whisk it good. Now that I’ve gotten that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day, let’s continue.
After a few seconds of vigorous whisking, your batter should look like a nice, smooth mixture.
I love all of the little bubbles that form on the surface. Obviously, up until this point, stirring has not only been encouraged, but it has been necessary. Now, I want you to put that whisk down. Don’t stir. It’s the name of the blog and it applies to the very important step that follows.
Pour your mixed flour, sugar, and milk into the baking dish on top of your melted butter. Try to distribute it as evenly as you can. Use a spatula to get out every last drop. Then, DON’T STIR!
Resist every single urge you may have to fiddle with this mixture. Let it sit. Put down the whisk or spoon. Finally, add your softened berries and their juice to the baking dish. Spoon the berries evenly on top of the batter and butter. Try to get some berries in every single part of the dish.
It may look a little odd at this point. Your gut may be imploring you to give everything a mighty stir so things don’t look so disjointed. Whatever you do, don’t stir!
Savor the simplicity of it. Savor the colors of it. Savor the smells of it. Just don’t stir it!
It’s time to get it ready for the oven.
Place the cobbler in your preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the top turns a golden-brown color and your kitchen smells like sweet summertime. If the top isn’t turning golden brown for you after 30-40 minutes, you can place it under the broiler for a minute or so – but if you go that route, stand by the oven with the door cracked so you can pull it out the instant it is brown. You would hate to lose the cobbler at this point. There’s no bigger cobbler catastrophe than a burned crust.
When it’s finished, your final product will look like this:
The buttery crust will have risen to the top. The blackberries will be peeking out from underneath the craggy crust. Your berries will have released some of their juice creating a sweet sauce in the bottom of the pan. Ideally, you would let this cool for a few moments and then dig in. While it’s still warm, add a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and get ready to ascend to the heavens. Enjoy the contrast of sweetness and tartness, crunchiness and softness, and the warm cobbler against the cold ice cream. Sure you’ll be picking seeds out of your teeth for the next week. Enjoy it, because each seed will provide you with a warm reminder of your scrumptious creation. Instead of being annoyed by these straggling seeds, you’ll be happy. You’ll smile as you fondly flick that seed with your tongue and remember the cobbler that transports you to straight to summertime. A time when life slows down and memories are made.
To stir, or not to stir? That is the question. Now you know the answer.
Happy seed picking,
The Taste Bud