I know it may seem a little early to be writing about a dessert that calls for blueberries. After all, it’s only the beginning of May. There’s still plenty of rhubarb in the garden and brave spears of asparagus have just started to peek through the dirt by the banks of the Ompompanoosuc. And the temperature? Bundle up! I had to put on a winter jacket this morning to walk the dog. Hot July days and berry picking seem very far away indeed.
Despite what the calendar says, though, you need to be prepared for bushes bursting forth with blueberries and for a kitchen suddenly filled with cartons of fruity sapphires from local pick-your-owns. It may seem as though these chilly rhubarb days will last forever, but before you know it, ”Blueberries for Sal” afternoons will be upon New England farmhouses and you’ll be searching for a new recipe. Believe me, your summer kitchen will be a better place with this one.
And, to be honest, as well as wanting to help everyone prepare for blueberry season, I just couldn’t wait until then to make these cornbread biscuits from the cookbook Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson (I’m a sucker for instant culinary gratification). They seemed the perfect earthy, rustic topping for a hot, bubbly fruit mixture. Plus, I had a bag of “Early Riser” cornmeal on hand (both grown and milled at nearby Butterworks Farm) and some frozen blueberries stashed away. As I suspected, this dessert was scrumptious.
If you’re a localvore who just can’t wait until July either, I have a hunch that these cornbread biscuits would be a delicious topping for a “cobbled together” combination of strawberries and rhubarb.
So now you’re prepared for all those blueberries. And for summer, too. Here’s to the summer kitchen – and to instant culinary gratification!
Blueberry Cobbler with Cornbread Biscuits
Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson have created page after page of inspired recipes in Rustic Fruit Desserts. Richardson owns “Baker & Spice” in Oregon (but, yes, grew up in Vermont) and serves many of these at her bakery and at the Portland Farmer’s Market. I’ve adapted it ever so slightly here. The cornbread biscuits in this cobbler don’t get gummy the way flour ones can. Instead they’re moist and cakey and because they aren’t too sweet, they compliment the sugary blueberry mixture nicely. My kids had already eaten a hearty dinner when I served this dessert, but when they tasted it they gobbled up big, deep bowlfuls.
¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 dry pints (6 ½ cups or 3 pounds frozen) blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about ½ fresh lemon)
1 ¼ cups (6 ¼ ounces) flour
1/2 fine cornmeal (2 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup (4 ounces) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup cold, heavy cream
4 teaspoons sparkling white sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To make the fruit filling: mix sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a large bowl. Add the blueberries and toss to combine, then gently stir in the lemon juice. Spoon the fruit into a 2 quart baking dish.
To make the biscuit: whisk the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. Add the butter and toss evenly until coated. Using your fingertips or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the size of peas. Pour in the cream and stir until the mixture comes together. Divide the dough into 8 pieces and pat each piece into a 3-inch biscuit. Evenly distribute the biscuits atop the fruit mixture, then sprinkle ½ teaspoon of the sugar on each biscuit.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and the fruit mixture is bubbling in the middle. Serve warm. This cobbler is best eaten the day it is made. Covered with a tea towel, any leftovers will keep at room temperature for p to 3 days.