Did you know that Blueberry Cobbler got its name from the cobbled streets common to London and early America? These days, if you stroll around Philadelphia or Boston, you may find historic areas resplendent with these pavers, but in London, you won’t find much evidence of the old cobblers. Most have been paved over with modern materials, but some still exist, particularly in front of the Kelmscott House in Hammersmith.
This house, circa 1780, had been occupied by Sir Francis Ronalds and later by writer George MacDonald. You may not be familiar with those names, but the house was also the home of William Morris (1834-1896), craftsman, designer, poet and socialist. Today Kelmscott House serves as headquarters of the William Morris Society and is located in the same small alleyway as The Dove, a cozy 17th century pub that holds the distinction as the smallest bar in Britain, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
In a cobbler, a biscuit or dumpling crust is laid over the top of a fruit or meat mixture. You may know cobbler by other names, depending on how it is prepared. Apple crisp is one dimension of a cobbler, but generally includes oatmeal and crumbs. Buckles are made with yellow cake batter; then lightly tossed with the underlying fruit filling. Some versions are made on the stove, often in an iron skillet for more even heating. These variations hail from New England, and are sometimes made with a few different fruits. Sonkers are deeper dish varieties of the New England versions, unique to North Carolina, but are single fruit wonders.
Cobblers in England often use meat such as lamb, beef or mutton, and are mixed with vegetables, flour and potatoes or noodles. The biscuit or dumpling crust may cover the cobbler entirely, or may be laid around the outer edge with the center exposed.
This version of Blueberry Cobbler uses Bourbon Barrel-Aged American Strong Ale to round out the fruit sweetness, while leaving a hefty amount for you to enjoy while waiting for the oven to do its magic. I recommend Bourbon Barrel Aged Angel’s Share from The Lost Abbey in San Marcos, California, with 12.5% ABV. This dark, boozy beer is like a malt milkshake, rich with vanilla, caramel, dark fruit and toffee.
Angel’s Share Blueberry Cobbler
Preheat oven to 375° F.
6-8 cups blueberries
¼ cup The Lost Abbey Bourbon Barrel-Aged Angel’s Share
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
In a large mixing bowl, toss together the blueberries, The Lost Abbey Bourbon Barrel-Aged Angels Share, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
1 ½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks cold butter
¾ cup Half-and-half
Sift together dry ingredients: Flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or hand mixer, cut butter into dry ingredients mixture until crumbly. Pour in the half-and-half and work it until it is lightly sticky. Caution: do not overmix the crumb mixture.
To the Finish line:
½ stick butter
1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon water
In a deep skillet, melt ½ stick of butter on the stovetop. Add the prepared blueberry mixture and heat through – about 5 minutes. Drop spoonfuls of dough over warm fruit mixture. It does not need to be completely covered. The dough will plump as it cooks.
With a mini-wire whisk, beat together egg yolk and water until frothy. Glaze the top of the dough and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar.
Bake in 375° F. oven for 40-45 minutes. Pour Angel’s Share in a brandy snifter and sip deliciously while waiting for the cobbler to bake.
Serve cobbler warm. Optional: Dopple with ice cream.
Hint: Since the water in fruit varies, juices may bubble over during baking. Place skillet on a baking sheet or aluminum foil to catch these juices and minimize clean-up.
Photos are (from top): Beer Hunter Michael Jackson at the Kelmscott House, London - observe the cobbled street; Blueberries, Wikipedia Commons, Photo credit: Scott Schopieray
Be prepared with the right tools
Bayou Classic 7440 3-Quart Deep Cast Iron Skillet with Lid
Don't forget the glass!
Riedel Vinum Cognac / Brandy Glass, Set of 2