Food Network Magazine (July 2015)
A couple weeks ago, we wrote about our disappointing experience with a Skillet Blueberry Cobbler. We loved the idea of a cast-iron fruit cobbler, but the one we made was bland, doughy and decidedly un-special.
Then everything changed.
We went over to our friend Bruce's for a thoughtful book-club discussion of Kate Atkinson's new novel "A God in Ruins." Okay, that's a lie. We went to Bruce's for a curated screening of Ingmar Bergman's four most important films. Okay fine, that's a lie too. We went to Bruce's to marathon season 1 of "Empire", okay? There, are you happy?
The point is, Bruce had made a special dessert for the occasion: a skillet blueberry cobbler. And it was absolutely fantastic.
It was perfectly sweet, with just the right ratio of fruit and crust. It was heavenly. It was transcendent.
Basically it was everything our first skillet cobbler wasn't.
We had to try it for ourselves, and for you. Because we all need a good blueberry cobbler in our lives, and we found it with this Blueberry-Caramel Skillet Cobbler.
Bruce had gotten the recipe from the latest issue of Food Network Magazine.
From far away, the two cobbler recipes are pretty similar: Sweeten the blueberries, make a basic batter, pour the batter over, and bake.
But up close, there are some key differences:
- As the name of this recipe indicates, you make a sort of caramel sauce by reducing brown sugar. Then you toss the berries in. We thought this yielded a much better taste to the berry filling than the confectioners' sugar used in that other recipe. And the thick, syrupy caramel gives the filling a richer texture.
- Speaking of texture, we love that you toss the blueberries in a little flour here. That goes even further to give you that thick, gloopy texture you want in a cobbler fruit filling.
- The biggest difference has to do with the ratio of the batter. In that other cobbler, there's so much batter that the finished cobbler is more like a coffee cake -- uniform in texture and (in our opinion) doughy and bland. This recipe, however, calls for less milk and uses granulated sugar instead of agave syrup. It also incorporates butter. The result is less batter to work with, and a thicker batter. So instead of a uniform mass of berries-floating-in-dough, you have a layer of berries topped by delicious, oven-browned batter.
The result, as we said, is marvelous. It's the perfect mix of fruit-to-crust, and the flavor of the berries really shines through. We loved it.
In fact, the only problem is that we now have an entire skillet of blueberry cobbler at our house, with just the two of us to eat it.
Wanna come over and watch "Empire"? Grab a spoon!
Total Time: 1 hr 15 min | Prep: 20 min | Cook: 45 min
NOTE FROM ZACH & CLAY OF THE BITTEN WORD: This recipe calls for a "medium" ovenproof skillet. Anything 10-12 inches in diameter should work fine.
6 cups fresh blueberries (about 3 pints)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Toss the berries with 1 teaspoon vanilla and 3 tablespoons flour; set aside. Combine the brown sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a medium ovenproof skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until thick and caramelized, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in the lemon juice then the berry mixture and set aside.
Whisk the remaining 1 cup flour, the granulated sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with your fingers until evenly incorporated and the mixture resembles fine meal. Whisk the egg yolks with the buttermilk and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla in a small bowl, then gradually whisk into the flour mixture until the batter is smooth. Spread the batter evenly in the skillet so the berries are almost covered.
Bake until the top is golden, about 35 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.