Tuesday, September 9, 2008


My family is fortunate that my husband’s grandfather planted eight blueberry bushes in his backyard. Now our front yard blends into it and our daughter often walks down and stands among the bushes picking and eating the fat blue-black berries till she’s full or bored. We don’t usually snack between meals but I don’t mind her grazing at the blueberry bushes.

Sometimes she will take an 8-cup lidded Tupperware measuring cup by the handle and pick alongside her grandmother, bringing home berries that I stir into pancake or waffle batter. Recently she brought so many that I made a pie. This year, thanks to their daily picking, we beat the birds to the berries. I’m not a berry pie or cobbler baker or lover (I don’t like the little seeds in my teeth) but I recently made individual (think cupcake-sized) peach “cobblers” – really they were more like pies – for a church bake sale. There was a berry variation listed so I adapted this recipe when I made my full-size blueberry pie.

Then our culinarily-inclined friend Shaun wrote asking for a cobbler recipe. My mom sifted through her recipes and I sifted through my own childhood berry-picking memories.

I remember as a child I liked the adventure of dressing in jeans and long sleeves on hot August days and driving to briers growing along a dusty dirt road to pluck blackberries – some an inch long and as plump as my adult thumb. I did not eat as I picked. I preferred to swipe bits of the crusty juice-soaked dough but I would not eat the hot cobbler as my family did -- doused with milk and sprinkled with more sugar. The base of my mom’s cobbler is a crust of biscuit dough to which she adds sugar.

With greater patience I would strain the juice of the seeds and make jam/jelly but I haven’t found the wherewithal to do that. But when cooking the berries for the pie recipe, I hate to see all that good juice going down the drain. Next time I’ll think quicker and save the juice, maybe mix it with simple syrup and try it on pancakes.

A variation on Anne Byrn’s Peach Cobbler Cupcakes as first printed in “Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor” (2005, Workman Publishing Co.)

Note this makes a whole pie and not the individual cupcake-sized ones.

1 15-ounce package refrigerated pie crusts (2 per package)
2 heaping cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour plus cornstarch or tapioca if you want
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Unroll one pie crust on the bottom and up the sides of a pie pan.

Put the berries in a medium saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. Stir until they boil. Reduce heat to low and stir often while they simmer, about 5 minutes. Drain.

Combine the 1/2 cup sugar and the flour (and cornstarch or tapioca if desired) and cinnamon in a small bowl. Mix into the berries and pour all into crust.

Put the top crust on and crimp the edges. Cut slits to vent. Distribute the cold bits of butter on top. Sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Place the pan in the oven.

Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly, 16 to 18 minutes.

David made this for one of my early Mother's Day breakfasts-in-bed. I just made it for the coffee station at my church and they polished off all but a couple of slices. I used a stoneware bundt pan and I think it made the cake a little too dark. The recipe says to cool it in the pan and I think the stoneware held the heat too long and the cake continued to bake. It wasn't dry nor did it taste overdone but the part closest the pan and halfway through was brown rather than cream.

Blueberry Crumb Ring

from "The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook"
1 cup butter or margarine, softened (2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 8-ounce container sour cream (1 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 pint blueberries

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch tube pan.

In large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter or margarine and 1 cup sugar just until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add allspice and 2 cups flour; beat until well mixed, constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Set aside 1 cup flour-butter mixture.

To mixture remaining in large bowl, add sour cream, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, salt, eggs, remaining 1 1/2 cups flour, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Beat at low speed until well mixed, constantly scraping bowl with rubber spatula. Increase speed to high; beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl. Gently fold in half of blueberries.

Spoon batter into pan. Sprinkle reserved flour-butter mixture and remaining blueberries over batter in pan. Bake about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack; remove from pan.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup Crisco
3/4 cup milk

Mix the dry ingredients together. Cut in Crisco till it resembles small peas. Then stir in the milk. Use to top the fruit of your choice that you have mixed with sugar.

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