Rhubarb cobbler

Enjoy this true American deliciousness! The juicy base is sweet and sour nicely complementing each other and is covered with the perfectly crumpling, soft topping … Oh and it is begging for a bit of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Cobbler is an American deep-dish fruit dessert. It became a favorite right after I took my first bite. Cobbler is simple yet it is bursting with rich flavor; there is something about it that surely grabs everyone’s attention.  You can make it with whatever fruit is available in the season. My mother-in-law made it with rhubarb and berries and that is how I keep making it. Foreigners often complain that Americans don’t have a cuisine of their own. Well this one is an American specialty for sure. 

I looked up the history of cobbler so I will try to summarize what I read.  Well, one is certain that it is a North American dessert. It seems like it was invented by the settlers from the Old World when they tried to make one of their stupendous pies but they did not have all the tools and ingredients that was available back at home.  As an immigrant, I can relate to this experience.  The word cobbler might come from the word ‘cobeler’ that meant wooden bowl.  They might have attempted to make a more simple version of a traditional pie recipe in a small wooden bowl by the fire.  Also, another meaning could come from the word cobbler, the person who mends shoes; kind of like how the dough is mended together like a patchwork. However, none of these speculations of the word’s origin is official.  

As I mentioned earlier, I like to make the cobbler with rhubarb, especially in the spring. It is the first fruit, oops I meant to say vegetable here. Yes people often think it is a fruit because of its fruity, sour taste but it is in fact a vegetable. I can’t believe I get excited about rhubarb but it is really the first new plant that shows up at the farmers market in the Midwest … and there is nothing else here for weeks. While it is not a fruit, it can be prepared with sugar to –kind of cheat- to pretend that like they are fruits.  I also like to add rhubarb because the sour flavor nicely offsets the sweetness of the berries.

Besides its fame in the culinary world, rhubarb has favorable health benefits too. Rhubarb is native to Siberia and has been around for thousands of years. It has been grown in Asia for its medicinal properties. With the big migration, it was adopted in Europe as well. The settlers brought it over to the United Staes in the 1700’s and was known as the pie plant. The whole plant except for the leaves are used. The stalks are used as food and the roots are used as medicine. The leaves contain oxalic acid and can be poisonous in larger quantities and are therefore not used. It is cooling and detoxifying to the liver which makes it an ideal spring vegetable. In addition, the plant contains high amounts of manganese, magnesium, calcium, potassium, polyphenolic flavonoids and Vitamines B complex, C, and K. It has a favorable effect on digestion, bone growth, skin health, metabolism, cardiovascular health and improves circulation.    

Berries are also healthy. Particularly, raspberries and blackberries have a sweet and sour flavor and neutral thermal nature. These qualities make the berries ideal for baking. They nourish the kidneys and the liver and also build and cleanse the blood of toxins.

This is a crowd pleaser! The only complaint I have ever heard was why I didn’t make more and I bring this dessert often to potlucks so I know a lot of people have eaten it. I really think cobbler is as good as pie is or even better. The trick is to get the best rhubarb and the sweetest berries you can find. You can grow them yourself or get them at the farmers’ market. This is really important as the main part of the cobbler is the fruits! Also, make sure you use the exact measurements! Remember it is still kind of a pie recipe. Can’t just say I take a little bit of this and and a little of that …

RECIPE

This recipe is straight out of the cookbook Joy of Cooking.

Serving size: 8 people

Ingredients

  • Have all the ingredients at room temperature exept for the butter
  • 1 lb of rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces (in the store get the thinner stalks)
  • 1 lb of berries – I used blackberries and raspberries
  • ½ cup of sugar or more only if your fruits are not sweet enough. Only use more if your berries are not sweet. 1/2 cup is plenty otherwise, trust me!
  • salt
  • 2 Tbsp of  flour or 1 Tbsp of corn starch
  • 1 1/3  cup of all purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp of sugar
  • 5 Tbsp of cold unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup of cream or 1/2 cup of milk (honestly milk is fine too)
  • 1 lightly beaten egg for the top
  • extra sugar for the top
  • vanilla ice cream for serving

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 F. 
  • Have ready an oven proof baking dish that is about 2 quarts large in volume and 2 inches deep (ex 11 x 4 x 2 inch).  
  • Take fruits and the rhubarb out of the freezer if they are frozen, let them defrost. Wash rhubarb stalks and cut them into 1/2-1 inch long. If they are wide, you will have to cut them in half as well. Place the rhubarb and the berries in the dish. They need to be at room temperature before you can put the cobbler into the oven. 
  • Add pinch of salt, cornstarch and sugar and mix. Set aside and wait for at least 15 minutes or at least until rhubarb exudes some juice.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour with the baking powder, pinch of salt and sugar.
  • Add the butter and mix. This is such a satisfying experience for me to do by hand but if you prefer you can use your food processor for this step. 
  • Add the cream or milk stirring with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together. Gently need the dough in the bowl 5-10 times if needed, turning and pressing any loose pieces into the dough. Dust the top and the bottom of the dough.  
  • Now we will make a patchwork. Divide the dough into 8 parts and flatten each piece between your two hands about 1/4 inch thick. Place this piece on top of the fruit mix. Keep doing this until you have used up all the dough and the fruits are completely covered.  The dough should be workable but not sticky. If the dough becomes too sticky and hard to work with, put it into the fridge for about 10 minutes to become the proper consistency. This can happen in the summer when it is warm outside.
  • Lightly brush the top of the dough with the eggs and sprinkle with a little sugar. 
  • Put the cobbler in the oven and bake for about 40-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the berries are bubbling. 
  • Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving. 
  • You can serve the cobbler with vanilla ice cream if you wish.

enjoy!

Sources

  1. Irma S. Rombauer: Joy of Cooking
  2. Paul Pitchford: Healing with Whole Foods
  3. http://www.etymonline.com/word/cobbler
  4. https://www.healthbenefitstimes.com/rhubarb/

3 thoughts on “Rhubarb cobbler”

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