In terms of regional variety and cultural significance, cobbler could well be the next barbecue. Every part of the country seems to have their own version, and the names are just delightful: slump, brown betty, grunt, buckle, sonker. It’s easy to see why these dishes are ubiquitous and timeless. They consist of easily available ingredients, preparation is simple, and the results are invariably delicious.
The cobbler I grew up with, and still favor to this day, is the batter style cobbler. There is no crust to bother with, just fruit spooned over melted butter and sweetened batter. This is a formula I learned from my grandmother, Alice. Granny uses self-rising flour so her cobbler batter is an easy 1:1:1 ratio: one cup flour, one cup sugar, one cup milk. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that it’s delicious on its own, but is also the perfect blank canvas for experimentation.
I suppose you could use pre-made pie filling but I don’t think you’ll get the same complex flavor that cooking your own yields. There are lots of tools out there for pitting cherries, but I have my own method, which may be a little more labor-intensive but not by much. With gloved hands (to prevent stains) I use a paring knife to slice each cherry in half, across the meridian. Then I pull each one apart, putting the pitted halves in one pile and the empty halves in another. Finally I dig out the pits with my finger. The whole process can be done in about 30 minutes.
Cherry Almond Cobbler
- 1/2 to 1 pound of fresh, pitted cherries (The recipe is flexible, so you can customize your fruit to batter ratio.)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Scant 1/4 almond extract (real, not artificial)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Another scant 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sparkling sugar, turbinado sugar, or granulated sugar for sprinkling
- Put your pitted cherries in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium/low heat. Add the 1/4 cup granulated sugar, the juice of half a lemon, and a scant 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Simmer the cherries until they are tender and the juice is slightly thickened. (About a half hour.)
- Preheat your oven to 350°.
- While the oven is preheating, take the five tablespoons of butter and put them in a 9″x13″ (or similar size in another shape) baking dish. Put the dish in the oven so the butter can melt while the oven preheats.
- Combine the flour, almond meal, cup of sugar, salt, and baking powder, and cinnamon and whisk to incorporate. Add the buttermilk, vanilla extract, and the scant teaspoon of almond extract and whisk till smooth.
- Remove the melted butter from the oven and tilt to ensure the entire bottom of the pan is covered.
- Pour the batter over the melted butter. Do not stir.
- Spoon the cherries and their juice into the batter. Do not stir.
- Sprinkle a couple pinches of sugar over the top. (I used sparkling sugar.)
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Check at 4o minutes, since ovens vary.
- If you cut into the cobbler immediately after taking it out of the oven, the juices will be very runny. (But it will still be delicious.) If you wait a couple hours the juices will thicken and the cobbler will become more cohesive. It can always be reheated before serving if you prefer the fresh from the oven effect.
Thanks for reading!