Posted in Daily, Food

“Cobble” it Together

“Cherry cobbler is shortcake with a soul.” Edna Ferber

With summer round the corner and plenty of fruits to go around, desserts are always the reason why the meal gets completed in the twinkling of an eye, especially for the children. Even with the lack of time or frozen products over, dessert can be done soon, especially when bits of fruit over biscuit dough, batter or dumpling are baked to give the warm “cobbler” feel of the spring and summer skies.

Believed to have originated from the archaic word “cobeler” (recorded from 1859) meaning wooden bowl, cobblers were essentially a byproduct of the early years of European settlement in the Americas, especially by the English and the Dutch. They had initially emerged as a makeshift version of the popular pie recipes as a trail-modified desert.

“My earliest memory is making peach cobbler with my grandmother. A wonderful memory. I grew up in a restaurant family – B.B.Q. restaurant.” Rick Bayless

Unable to make the traditional puddings or pies, due to lack of ingredients or equipment as the settlers moves westward, modifications were made to the original methods. Consequently various ingredients were “cobbled together” with the available fruit, more common as peaches, plum or cherries, which were dried, preserved or canned, leavened dough (using baking powder) and an open fire. The initial cobbler were being made with a covered stewed filling with a layer of uncooked plain biscuits or dumplings, fitted together.

“Chocolate’s okay, but I prefer a really intense fruit taste. You know when a peach is absolutely perfect… it’s sublime. I’d like to capture that and then use it in a dessert.” Kathy Mattea

Cobblers were meant to be more palatable and sweet than pretty. Fruit, however it came, was dumped into a Dutch oven, topped with globs of biscuit dough and baked over an open fire until golden brown. Soon cobblers were quickly integrated into the settler diet, with the sweet dish being eaten for breakfast, as first course or as a main dish. Towards the late 19th century, the cobbler was officially labeled as a dessert.

“My earliest memory is making peach cobbler with my grandmother. A wonderful memory. I grew up in a restaurant family – B.B.Q. restaurant.” Rick Bayless

With modern technology of preservation, trade and transport; cobblers today have been vastly modified to include many fruit varieties including raspberries, blackberries as well being topped with cinnamon or vanilla essence, adding colours and flavours to the original version. Variants like grunts, pandowdy and slumps are Canadian Maritimes and New England varieties of cobbler are labelled when they are typically cooked on the stove-top or in an iron skillet or pan, with the dough on top in the shape of dumplings. The name originates from the grunting sound they make while cooking. Other popular variants include the apple pan dowdy (an apple cobbler whose crust has been broken and perhaps stirred back into the filling), the Betty or Brown Betty ( made with breadcrumbs or bread pieces or graham cracker crumbs and fruit, usually diced apples, in alternating layers, baked covered with a consistency of bread pudding) and the buckle (made with yellow batter like cake batter with the filling mixed in with the batter) among many others.

On the other hand, the scone-topped cobbler predominates in the UK where they are made both as sweet or savoury. While the common sweet fillings include apple, blackberry or peach; the savoury ones consists of beef, lamb or mutton as a casserole filling, sometimes with a simple ring of cobbles around the edge, rather than a complete layer, to aid cooking of the meat. The savoury versions may be topped with cheese or herb scones.

Over the years, cobblers have remained popular especially as they were quick to make for the luncheons and brunches. Little wonder then that the Georgia Peach Council declared April 13th National Peach Cobbler Day. Taking a bite of the rosy fruit cradled in warm pillows of cinnamon-scented dough and blanketed with the melted vanilla ice cream brings rich splendor to the senses, giving warmth and happiness all the way. For all the foodists at heart, have a little bite of cobbler to revel in the taste of sunny skies and warm sunshine.

“There are a couple of different types of food I eat a lot. I was raised in the South, in Tennessee, so I’m going to go with comfort food, soul food. I would probably start with collard greens and candied baby carrots and then have some biscuits and white gravy – and for dessert, probably blackberry cobbler.” Megan Fox

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