Garden & Gun (June/July 2015)
[UPDATE: We tried a different Skillet Blueberry Cobbler we liked much better: Read about it here!]
What is it about foods cooked in cast-iron skillets that are so darn appealing to us?
"Cook it in a skillet" is as good advice as Put an Egg On It: It just makes everything better.
Or maybe that's just our Southern showing?
At any rate, Zach's mom was here a few days ago, and the three of us spent the weekend doing what we do best: eating and chatting and eating some more. We did a bit of cooking, too, including a meal that was topped off by this Skillet Blueberry Cobbler from Garden & Gun.
The secret star here is the vanilla cream that's served on the side of the cobbler. Listen to us when we tell you that you need to file this away to serve with other dishes. It's darn simple -- just a cup of Greek yogurt stirred with confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract -- but perfect. It's both tangy and sweet, and would be heavily just dabbed on a bowl of fruit. It's so much tastier (and --- shhhhh! --- healthier) than plain ol' whipped cream.
But we have bad news about the cobbler itself: It's just okay.
We are on the record -- many times -- as saying that we don't care for overly sweet desserts. But maybe we're liars, because we could have stood a bit more sugar here. The cobbler has 1 Tablespoon of confectioners' sugar and 1/3 cup of agave syrup, which certainly said to us that this should be sweeter than it tastes.
But the most disappointing thing, for us, was the texture. We love a cobbler with lots of crunchy nooks and crannies. This was just a bunch of berries floating in a uniformly soft, doughy mass. We wanted cast-iron crisp, but what we got was bland and bready. (We could have cooked this longer, but we'd already cooked it for longer than the recipe calls for.)
So that's our story: a just okay cobbler, with a phenomenal and phenomenally simple topping.
How might we tweak this cobbler to make it live up to our cast-iron dreams?
We're all ears.
NOTES FROM ZACH AND CLAY:
We found Bob's Red Mill whole-wheat pastry flour at an organic grocery store in our neighborhood. If you can't find it, you can substitute in another pastry flour.
You must eat this dish when it's hot. We had some of it after it had sat for a while and did not care for it.
We had to cook our cobbler closer to 45 minutes to get it to fully set and slightly brown.
For the cobbler:
Zest from 1 lime
1 tbsp. finely chopped mint, plus 10 sprigs, for garnish
1 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
4 cups blueberries
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup 2 percent milk
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup vanilla cream (recipe below)
For the vanilla cream:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
4 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
FOR THE BLUEBERRY COBBLER: Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix lime zest, mint, confectioners’ sugar, and blueberries in a bowl and set aside. Place butter and oil in a 10½-inch cast-iron skillet and transfer to oven for 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, to make batter, combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then whisk in milk, agave syrup, and vanilla. Remove skillet from oven, add butter-oil mixture to the batter, and stir to combine. Pour batter into the hot skillet, top with berries, and bake until the batter has browned and risen up around the fruit, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer skillet to a rack to cool slightly. Serve with a dollop of vanilla cream and a sprig of mint.
FOR THE VANILLA CREAM: Combine ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to blend.