What’s in a name?
Well, a lot, it would seem, if we’re talking about a dessert with fruit and dough! With any various combinations of fruit, type of dough, and cooking instructions, you might have a pie, crumble, crisp, buckle, grunt, cobbler, shortcake, pandowdy, brown betty, or a slump. And this list is not exhaustive, as it doesn’t include things typically baked on a flat surface, such as hand pies or a galette, never mind all the regional names for such concoctions, like “sonker,” most of which I’ve never even heard of!
Every summer, I wind up with a bunch of rhubarb and find myself making pie. So much pie. This year, I'm trying to get out of my rhubarb funk, not just in my flavors but also in how I use it, the …
As soon as he saw rhubarb hit the stores, my husband asked me to make this cobbler. It’s still a bit early for local strawberries, but he bought some, and we still had about half a cup of blueberries in the fridge, so I threw them all together for my most recent iteration.
Although the most traditional combination would be strawberry-rhubarb, feel free to mix different combinations of fruits. Depending on what you use, it may turn out more or less juicy, and you can make a note for the next time. Different fruits have different water content, and this would impact the amount of instant tapioca added to provide the right amount of thickening.
In addition, the quantity of fruit isn’t really precise either. A cup more wouldn’t hurt, but if you decide to do more than that, add a bit more tapioca and sugar. On the other hand, the proportions of the biscuit-style dough are more important. If you decide to use a larger pan — and more fruit — you’ll want to increase the dough to cover sufficiently.
Finally, it’s worth noting that rhubarb freezes well. Just cut the raw stalks into pieces of about an inch and spread on a parchment lined half sheet pan to freeze. Once frozen, place the pieces into a freezer bag. In the middle of winter you can enjoy a bit of spring in desserts or savory dishes.
You can serve this cobbler warm with whipped cream or ice cream — we especially enjoyed it last week with Purple Cow ice cream from High Lawn Farm — or just on its own.
ANY BERRIES-RHUBARB COBBLER
2 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1-inch pieces, about 3 large stalks
2 cups berries (if strawberries, hulled and cut)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant tapioca
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon fiori di Sicilia or vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
Scant 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup unsalted butter (5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon), cold, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup heavy cream, cold, plus more for brushing biscuit tops
Vanilla sugar for sprinkling, or cinnamon sugar or other sugar
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Spray 9-by-9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray
Put the fruit, tapioca, 1/2 cup sugar, fiori di Sicilia or vanilla extract in the pan. Mix and let sit while you make the biscuit dough.
Mix the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter pieces to the dry ingredients, and using a pastry cutter or two forks, break up the butter into small pieces (1/8 to 1/4 inch). Add heavy cream and mix until just combined. It’s fine if a bit of flour remains at the bottom of the bowl, but try to get most of it. Divide the dough into nine portions, flatten with your hands into thick round disks, and arrange on top of the fruit. Brush the tops of the biscuits with heavy cream and sprinkle with vanilla sugar.
Place baking dish on a foil-lined half sheet pan in case of drips and bake 45-55 minutes, until tops of biscuits are golden. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.