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CI's master fruit cobbler recipes

I just got out the July/Aug '96 Cooks Illustrated issue to make a cobbler from rhubarb and strawberries that have been hibernating in the freezer since last summer. The article featured 4 different types of topping: butter cookie dough, batter, rich shortcake biscuit, and pastry. I've never made the latter 2 but the first 2 are favorites. Note that the batter recipe was seriously misprinted (a rare glitch for CI), and corrected in a later issue - wouldn't you know, the one time they goof, I choose THAT recipe, although I thought the amounts were odd. I wound up with a buttery pudding. Correctly made, this is a great fruit dessert if you want to bake but have run out of eggs. The correct recipe, which is effortless and good:

BATTER-STYLE FRUIT COBBLER
6 T unsalted butter (3/4 stick)
3/4 c each AP flour, sugar, and milk
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
2 c sliced fruit or berries

Middle rack of oven, preheated to 350. Put butter into 8"sq or 9"round pan and set into oven to melt. Meanwhile, whisk together dry ingredients, then whisk in the milk till blended.
Remove pan from oven and pour batter into the pan without mixing it into the butter. Arrange the fruit evenly over the batter, and sprinkle with an additional Tbsp of sugar. Bake until browned, 40-50 min. ( I use a 7x11 pan, bumping up the butter to a whole stick and the milk, flour, and sugar to 1 c each, with a heaping tsp baking powder - so this is one recipe that's permanently in my head.)

The other one, which I prefer, is:

COOKIE DOUGH FRUIT COBBLER
1/2 c AP flour
1/4 t baking powder
pinch salt
8 T butter, softened
1/2 c sugar
1/2 large egg or 1 yolk
1/4 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. Mix and set aside the dry ingredients. Cream butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla, then stir in the dry ingredients till combined.
Use about 2 pints of berries and/or sliced fruit, or 24 oz defrosted frozen. Mix into the fruit about 1 T cornstarch for berries, 1-1/2 T for sour cherries, but only 2 t for other fruit. Add 1/3 to 1/2 c sugar, depending on type and tartness of fruit. 1 t vanilla, 1/2 t almond extract, 1/2 t cinnamon, and/or liqueur, depending on fruit and your preference.
Put fruit mixture into 8"sq or 9" round pan, drop dough onto fruit by heaping Tbsps, bake 45-55 min.
Note: This recipe is forgiving - I have used 1/3 c white whole wheat flour plus 1/3 c almond meal, bumping up the baking powder to a heaping 1/4 t, and using a whole egg.

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  1. I made this recipie a ton when it first came out and keep meaning to get back to it, I have always made witht he cookie dough topping and have a note to self to double it...Do you happen to have the correct measurements for the batter topping so I can amend my recipie? thanks

    2 Replies
    1. re: geminigirl

      As mentioned above, what's in this post IS the correct batter topping recipe. The butter rising to the top, and the sprinkled sugar, make for a crisp surface to the cakey cobbler.

      I don't think the cookie dough topping NEEDS to be doubled, but I can certainly understand doing so, to have more of its deliciousness! It's also good with brown sugar swapped in for half the white, in the case of apple, blueberry, and plum cobblers.

      1. re: greygarious

        oops, my mistake, I thought you had said one of the toppings was incorrect..thanks

    2. I want to be able to find this later.

      1. Thanks grey! I love cobblers and will definitely want to try this, especially the batter one.

        I have a low-fat but plenty good one that I use to make rolled out bisquits over fruit in the summer. That's been a good standby, but this batter one will fill its own niche. Thanks for the recipes and for the correction.

        2 Replies
        1. re: karykat

          Can you post your low-fat recipe?

          1. re: Humbucker

            I didn't see this request way back when. The recipe I use came from a Sunset low-fat book, I believe. It has butter in it, but the bisquists get rolled out thinly enough so you aren't getting that much fat. Here's the recipe:

            Whirl together in a food processor or large bowl: 11/2 cups flour, 3 tbsp sugar, 11/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt. Add 1/2 cup cold butter cut in pieces and whirl or rub with your fingers to mix. Add 1/3 cup low-fat milk. whirl or stir until just evenly moistened. Make into a ball.

            Roll or pat out about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into circles. Place bisquists on top of fruit mixture. Brush with egg white and then sprinkle with some sugar.

            This gopping goes on top of a fruit mixture cooked with tapioca and sugar. This amount of topping is for a fruit mixture of about 9 cups of fruit to make about 10-12 servings.

            You bake it in a 400 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes or until it looks done.

        2. Intrigued by the cookie dough topping idea! Can't wait to give this a shot - thanks!

          1 Reply
          1. I have tried the cookie dough cobbler twice. I checked the ingredients in three places to make sure that they were accurate, one, in the original issue of Cooks, second on line and third in Pam Anderson's book. Both times of cooking the cooky dough peach cobber recipe the following happened:
            1. Topping -crispy on top and gooey uncooked underneath.
            2. Peaches turned from being deliciously sweet raw and acidic when cobbler baked.
            Has anyone else had this experience? Can anyone explain why the delicious peaches became acidic?
            This was disappointing at best and costly. Especially since Pam Anderson said she tested everything.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Emiliamarisa

              I haven't had a problem with the recipe. The underside is soft, of course. If you thought it would be like laying separately-baled cookies atop the cooked fruit, you had an impossible expectation.

              What did you use to thicken the peaches, and how much? I suspect that's where the problem lies.