Step Aside, Peaches: Nectarines Make a Bid for Best Cobbler Filling
Posted August 21, 2018 4:21 p.m. EDT
Everyone loves pie. It’s good for breakfast, with a strong cup of coffee, or in the afternoon.
And if it’s offered for dessert, it is difficult to resist. Right now, with summer fruit in abundance, it would seem pie season is upon us — unless pie-making seems too fussy.
If that’s the case, there are any number of easy-to-make pielike desserts, which vary from region to region and family to family, and are usually baked in rectangular vessels.
Consider all the names they go by: cobbler, crumble, crisp, grunt, buckle, betty, sonker, slab pie and pandowdy. I’m not going to get into it here, however. (My colleague Kim Severson wrote about it in endearing detail some years ago.)
This week, though, is just about cobblers. For me, a cobbler is a traditional baked dish of sweetened fruit with a biscuit-dough topping. When well made, it is the ideal home dessert.
Peach is arguably the best filling, but any stone fruit will do — nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries. Berries have their place, too, combined with stone fruit or in all-berry versions.
When I searched the market the other day for ingredients, I chose nectarines, possibly my favorite stone fruit. (Don’t tell the plums, for I love them also.) Nectarines are really just peaches with smooth skins and a certain slightly tart tendency. The market is chockablock with stone fruit right now, and with local berries, too, so I chose raspberries to play a supporting role, to add color and interest.
There are at least two ways to add the biscuit topping. One is to make a wet biscuit dough and plop little blobs of it over the surface of the sugared fruit. (These are called drop biscuits.)
Another is to roll out biscuit dough and cut it into rounds, which is the route I took. I added candied ginger and chopped pistachios to my biscuit dough, making it almost sconelike.
I find it’s best to bake the fruit untopped for a half-hour or so before laying the raw disks of dough on top and baking for another 15 minutes.
The whole emerges from the oven with a heavenly fragrance, all bubbly fruit and crisp, golden crust. Let it cool a bit before serving, with whipped cream or crème fraîche or ice cream.
Nectarine-Raspberry Cobbler With Ginger Biscuits
Total time: 1 1/2 hours
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
For the biscuits:
3 cups (385 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (55 grams) cold unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into small cubes
1/4 cup (28 grams) coarsely chopped pistachios
1 cup (170 grams) candied ginger, diced small, about pea-size
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup (240 milliliters) heavy cream or half-and-half, plus more for brushing tops
1 tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
For the filling:
10 cups (about 1 kilogram) thickly sliced pitted nectarines (8 to 10 nectarines)
3/4 cup (165 grams) light brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 small lemon (about 2 to 3 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 cup (30 grams) all-purpose flour
2 pints (490 grams) raspberries
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir together, then add butter pieces and work into flour mixture with fingers or fork until mixture looks like moist sand. Stir in pistachios and candied ginger.
2. Combine eggs and cream and pour over flour mixture, stirring briefly until dough comes together. Turn dough out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Knead dough for a minute or so, then wrap and refrigerate.
3. Make filling: Add nectarine slices, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice and nutmeg to a large mixing bowl. Toss with your hands, to ensure seasoning is distributed well. Sprinkle with flour and toss one more time. Fold in raspberries, taking care not to smash them.
4. Transfer fruit mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until fruit and juices are bubbling.
5. Meanwhile, roll out dough to a rough rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or a water glass whose rim has been dipped in flour, cut out as many biscuits as possible. Roll out scraps, and continue cutting out rounds until you have 12 biscuits. Place biscuit rounds on a plate, and refrigerate them for a few minutes.
6. Remove baked fruit from oven and arrange biscuit rounds evenly over the top. Brush each biscuit with about 1 teaspoon cream and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar.
7. Bake, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes, until biscuits are well browned. Let cool slightly before serving.