High Altitude Baking: Wild blueberry cobbler a popular dessert
High Country Baking
High altitudes makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall, and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column, published on Thursdays, presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
“Everything should be made as simply as possible, but no simpler.” That Einstein quote describes this recipe perfectly. It is a minimalist’s dream, with few ingredients and a process that couldn’t be more straightforward. Unlike some fruit desserts that rely on sweetness for their appeal, this cobbler is all about complementary tastes and textures. And the results? Oh, my, they’re good. One tester, who is considered a blueberry cobbler connoisseur, claims it’s his favorite rendition of this popular dessert.
Why is it so pleasing? First and foremost, it uses wild blueberries, which are smaller, sweeter and more intensely flavored than their larger cousins. Fresh ones are hard to find in most parts of the U.S. but, fortunately, the berries freeze very well, are available in our groceries all year long and star in this recipe. So, the filling requires less sugar and flavor enhancers than it would if made with regular blueberries. You can add a splash of lemon juice or Crème de Cassis if you’d like, but they aren’t necessary.
The biscuits that top the berries also make a major contribution to its success. The combination of butter and heavy cream creates a light, tender, almost ethereal biscuit that contains only a small amount of sugar. Their flaky goodness contrasts beautifully with the filling. It’s critical, when making the biscuits, to handle the dough as little as possible and with the lightest hand.
Wild Blueberry Cobbler
Adjusted for altitudes above 7,500 feet
Make in a 9 ½-inch deep-dish pie pan
- 3 cups frozen wild blueberries (don’t defrost)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar, preferably superfine
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup bleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, preferably superfine
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- Turbinado sugar, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the center position. Grease the pan with butter and set aside.
2. Make the filling: Combine the frozen blueberries, granulated sugar and flour in a mixing bowl and toss with a silicone spatula to coat the berries with the dry ingredients. Continue until no dry remain at the bowl’s bottom. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
3. Make the biscuits: Combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until well blended. Cut the cold butter into small pieces, add them and pulse until coarse, evenly-moistened crumbs are formed. Add the heavy cream and pulse only until large, moist curds form. To do this step by hand: Whisk the dry ingredients to combine, cut in the small pieces of butter with a fork or your fingertips, and gently stir in the cream until the dry ingredients are moistened. With both methods, stop well before a smooth dough comes together. Don’t overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough and hard.
4. Pour the berry mixture into the prepared pan. Very gently pat the biscuit dough into rounds about 2-2 ½ inches in diameter and ½-inch thick; don’t make them smooth and perfectly shaped; they should be slightly irregular and bumpy. Arrange them over the filling; they won’t fully cover it, some berries will still be visible. Sprinkle the biscuits with turbinado sugar, if desired.
5. Bake until the filling thickens and bubbles and the biscuits are fully cooked and golden on top, about 30 minutes. Remove to a rack, cool slightly, and serve or cool completely, store in the fridge and reheat in a microwave or 325 degree oven until warm to the touch. Serve with vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of cold cream.
This recipe is a variation of one published in the New York Times. Vera Dawson is a high-elevation baking instructor and author of three high-altitude cookbooks (available at The Bookworm in Edwards, Next Page Bookstore in Frisco). She’s lived in Frisco since 1991 and has been developing and adjusting recipes so that they work at our altitude ever since. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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