Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cherry Cobbler--imperfect but popular

Somehow we've been having trouble getting it together to have people over lately. Lots of travel, lots of "stuff" going on, other people's schedules...But we finally had a nice group over on Saturday, so I made the Washington State Cherry Cobbler.
I always give myself way too many tasks and way too little time whenever there's a dinner party involved. Even the other night, we were just having a barbecue, but I had to fix two salads and fancy fixin's for the burgers and clean the house and oops! here come a couple of little editing projects that I could probably do on the side...well, I didn't have a lot of time to throw together this cobbler.
Fortunately, it's really quite easy, especially the half-assed way I put it together. It calls for canned cherries since, as Maida correctly points out, the cherry season in the South lasts for about two days. So no cherry pitting--hooray for that. I wonder if frozen cherries might have been better, though. The syrup from the cherries is thickened with flour on the stove to make the cobbler base, which was a bit fussy but had the advantage of cooking the biscuits as soon as they hit the hot filling.

Here's my overexposed cherry mixture in the pan.
The biscuit dough comes together in about a minute in the food processor. I had guests coming in about 20 minutes at this point, and there was no way I was going to roll out and cut the dough, even into squares. So I went for the drop biscuit approach. This is what that looked like.

Of course after I had sprinkled the biscuits with some raw sugar and put the whole thing in the oven I saw the part about glazing the biscuits. I was not about to pull the dish out of the oven for that, and I think they looked and tasted just fine.
In fact, the guests were delighted. One asked me how I'd gotten the biscuits to be so crumbly, and one didn't say much, just abruptly pulled the dish toward herself to ensure that she would get seconds. Success! Now I just need to find more dinner guests, with that big banana cake coming up...

Here's what I made:
Washington State Cherry Cobbler

2 cans dark sweet cherries in syrup
Orange juice or other liquid, if necessary
1/4 c. (1.25 oz.) flour
1/8 t. salt
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/3 c. (2 oz.) sugar
1 T. butter
2 T. lemon juice

Get out a baking dish that holds at least 2 quarts. You don't have to butter it, but I sprayed mine. Drain the cherries over a measuring cup. If you don't get 2 cups of liquid, top it off with orange juice (that's what I did--I needed about 1/2 cup more). Put the flour, salt, allspice, cinnamon, and sugar in a saucepan. Slowly whisk in the cherry juice--try to get out the lumps as you go. I actually ended capturing some lumps in a strainer and straining them back out again, but that's just who I am. Put that over medium heat and cook, stirring with the whisk or a heatproof rubber scraper, until the mixture comes to a gentle boil. Let it cook, stirring, another minute, then take it off the heat. Add the butter and lemon juice (maybe a drop or two of almond extract would be good as well) and stir until melted. Then add the cherries and pour that into your baking dish. Heat the oven to 450 and get out your food processor: it's time to make biscuits.

1 cup minus 2 T. (4.4 oz.) flour (I used half whole wheat pastry flour)
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
2 t. sugar
2-1/2 T. butter, cold and cut into pieces
6 T. (3 oz.) buttermilk
1 T. raw sugar (or regular, if you don't have raw sugar)

Put all the dry ingredients in the food processor and whiz for a couple of seconds until blended. Then add the butter and pulse a few times until the butter is pea sized. Then pour in the buttermilk and pulse until it's just come together. Scoop out the dough with a teaspoon and put little balls of dough all over the cherry mixture. Sprinkle them with the sugar.
Put the dish in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are nice and brown and the cherries are bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
This just barely served 7, which is pretty good since it's only supposed to serve 6.

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