Sometimes my mom calls me and, in a very specific voice, tells me she has a question. And I immediately know what’s coming: She has an occasion she needs to bake for, and she wants me to recommend a recipe.
My mother is extremely capable in the kitchen, but she is not a proficient baker. She’s a person who bakes sometimes, when a specific occasion arises. So when she asks me for a recipe recommendation, I know she’s looking for one with a short list of basic ingredients, quick prep time, and simple techniques. And, most importantly, something that will always turn out, even if she gets a few things wrong along the way.
Enter our Fresh Fruit Cobbler. It’s what I’d recommend to her — or bakers of any level looking for an easy, failproof bake — in a heartbeat. It’s a cake-batter cobbler (as opposed to a biscuit-topped cobbler, more on that below!), but if the word “cake” makes you think of creaming butter or carefully folding in flour, think again. This cake-style batter merely involves whisking flour, baking powder, and salt together; whisking eggs, sugar, butter, and milk; and then combining them. Crucially, there’s no mixer required.
Pie is great. Cobbler might be even better.
I love pie so much that I wrote an entire book about it, but there are some times that I just don’t feel like making it. Namely, when it’s too hot to be dealing with cold pastry or when I’d rather be napping than prepping dessert hours before dinner. In those instances, Fresh Fruit Cobbler — ready in under an hour, start to finish — is my first pick.
Cobbler is way easier to make than pie, far more flexible, and much quicker, which is what I'm looking for in a summer recipe. (But if you’ve got your heart set on pie, this video of our favorite pie tips will come in handy). You can make a cobbler with pretty much any kind of fresh fruit, or a combination, and the recipe even works if you don’t have the full four cups of fruit called for (and psst, you can add a bit of frozen fruit to make up the difference). Baking gluten-free? Measure for Measure Flour can be swapped in without missing a beat.
And, helpfully, cobbler can be baked in nearly any sized baking dish, so if you have something a little smaller or larger than the 9" square pan or 2 1/2-quart casserole dish that’s called for in the recipe, you can still make it work. Round cake pans, rectangular baking dishes, or even a Dutch oven could all suffice.
The summer of cobbler
Now while this recipe is my cobbler preference, there are other styles you can choose to bake this summer. In addition to this cake-style cobbler, there’s also biscuit-style cobblers. These involve a fluffy drop biscuit topping that gets dolloped on top of fruit before baking. It tends to be less sweet than cake cobblers (not a shock, given the difference between biscuits and cake), and I’ve found it often features a higher ratio of fruit to filling. Our Easy Fruit Cobbler is an excellent example of this style, and it’s flexible enough to encompass a wide array of fruit fillings so you can adapt it to your own summer bounty. (Include the optional almond flour for the best taste and texture.)
There’s also this new Peanut Butter Cookie Fruit Cobbler, which replaces biscuits with a cookie topping instead. Using White Whole Wheat Flour in the cookie adds a subtle nuttiness to complement the peanut butter and enhance the cobbler’s PB&J-inspired identity.
So put down your rolling pin. This year, the dog days of summer are all about cobbler.
Cover photo by Kristin Teig.