4th Generation Fruit Cobbler

Just returned from a weeklong Texas trip, so recaps and reviews are in order.  To start things off, here’s a recipe for my version of my mom’s version of my Mema’s version of my granny’s version of fruit cobbler.  So ultimately it’s a modified 4th generation Hoelscher-Becker recipe from (clap-clap-clap-clap) deep in the heart of Texas. Everyone in the family has their own distinct recollections of the making and consumption of the cobbler, but they all like to reference the crunchy, butterscotch-y edge pieces, a result of pouring the wet batter into the melted butter.

I asked my sisters for some of their related memories.  Here’s what they conjured up –

Gooey plips snuggle
Scarlet turned golden
Tickles my nose
And my memories of
Pumpkin carvings
Fireworks versus arrowheads
Cowboy hats and edelweiss
My insides grin
The recipe unfolds
In my own kitchen
Black and white checkered
linoleum floor
I know what to do
I will keep this alive
This beautiful cobbler
Sigh: an Oath
I’ll pass this along
I’ll pass this along

M: On the rare occasions Mom would make cobbler, I remember smelling it from my room. I’d leave my homework and follow the smell down the stairs and into the kitchen. Usually the only light on in the kitchen while it was cooking was the light above the stove. Opening the oven while something is cooking in this family is strictly forbidden so whilst peering into the oven one had to cup their hands around their eyes and squint to see the golden cobbler baking. And of course the lightbulb in the oven was always out so the suspense built until the tart-sweet treasure was pulled out… It wasn’t so much that the cobbler tasted delicious – I think I’ve always enjoyed it because it’s been handed down and I like thinking about mom eating it when she was my age or Granny cooking it for Mema. I always imagine them in the same dim glow similar to the lighting in the kitchen when I’d creep down to check to see if the cobbler was ready yet. 

4th Generation Fruit Cobbler**

Approx. 3 cups roughly chopped fresh fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, raspberries, blueberries, etc). You can supplement with frozen fruit (raspberries, blueberries, and peaches work best)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar (could use a little less or a little more depending on the sweetness of your fruit)
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the stick of butter in an oven-safe ceramic or glass cake pan and put in the oven to melt while you chop the fruit.  Once the butter has melted, remove about a half of it to a mixing bowl. (Take care in doing this – hot pan, hot butter!  Alternately, you could melt half the stick of butter in the baking pan in the oven, and half in the mixing bowl in the microwave.  The main point of this is to leave half a stick of melting butter in the baking pan).

Once butter in the mixing bowl has cooled a little, add the milk, vanilla, and sugar, and mix with a whisk until combined.  Then add the flour, salt and baking powder, and mix until just combined.  The batter will be a bit like a loose pancake batter.  Don’t worry if you have a few lumps.

Carefully scatter about a cup of the fruit in the baking pan with the butter.  Then pour in the batter.  Scoop the remaining fruit on top of the batter, aiming for even distribution.

Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown, fruit juices are bubbling at the sides, and the edges are crispy.  Enjoy very warm with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream with a little sea salt sprinkled on top.

**If you want to go uber-decadent, you can also make an oatmeal crumb topping, as shown in the photos. For this, cut 2 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter into 1 cup of old fashioned rolled oats with 1 teaspoon of salt. Chill this mixture until you’re assembling the cobbler.  Sprinkle it on top of the last layer of fruit before popping the cobbler it in the oven. 

Prune Plum Cake

I like biting into a big, juicy plum.  That’s why those tiny prune plums never interested me.  The fruit to pit ratio just didn’t appear to justify their existence in my shopping bag.  However, multiple sightings of prune plum recipes (most notably on The Kitchn) soon got me wondering if, perhaps, I was as wrong about this stone fruit as I was about ratatouille.  Now I’m even more firmly convinced that preconceived food notions should be kicked curbside post haste when you encounter a recommendation from a reliable source, or several.

This prune plum cake was awesome. Just sweet enough, just tart enough, with a butterscotch-y flavor on the caramelized crust edge, similar to the most coveted edge pieces of my Mema/Mom’s fruit cobbler recipe. The recipe below makes a squat, somewhat dense cake, one that could easily be gobbled up in a matter of two days by two people. Should have made this YEARS ago.

Prune Plum Cake
Recipe from The Kitchn with slight edits mainly in the fat and sugar departments. The Kitchn based theirs on the “famous NYT Plum Torte”. I used a non-stick springform pan but apparently the size of the pan isn’t important (cast iron skillet, 9-inch round, square “brownie’ size, sky’s the limit).

1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
1/4 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 egg
Approximately 15-20 prune plums, halved and pitted 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Butter and flour your choice of baking vessel (if it’s non-stick, don’t bother). Cream sugar, butter, coconut oil, yogurt, and vanilla in a bowl. Add eggs and beat well. Add flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg and beat well.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. (Note – I was a little surprised about how little batter there was, and also at the thick consistency. Don’t worry about this – it’ll turn out just fine). Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter, being sure to crowd the pan.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the edges are golden brown and the middle is set. Cool on a rack.