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Cobblers


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#1 gknl

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Posted 13 July 2003 - 12:29 PM

For me, cobblers mean fruit topped by some sort of biscuit dough, but to my girlfriend, it's fruit on the bottom, layer of pie dough, more fruit, then more pie dough on top. She claims it's a Southern thing (she's from Alabama, I'm from California) and looking through my Southern cookbooks, it seems to be almost evenly split between the two types.

I prefer the biscuit topping. If I have to make a pie dough and roll it out, why not just make a pie (confession: I suck at rolling out pie crusts; need more practice, I know)? The biscuit is so much easier. I don't even bother to roll out the dough, but scoop out spoonfuls and drop it on top of the fruit.

Which do you prefer and why?

#2 KelMH

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Posted 13 July 2003 - 01:00 PM

My Texan family members would argue that a true southern cobbler consists of fruit with biscuit dough topping. I agree that making pie dough does typically call for a pie...

Good luck, anyhow.
Kelli

#3 Big John

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Posted 13 July 2003 - 01:57 PM

To me it must be biscuit dough on top, because the word cobbler comes from the look of old time cobblestone streets.

#4 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 13 July 2003 - 09:07 PM

Your right, a cobbler has a cobbled top of a biscuit type batter.

What she's refering to is a pandoudy (although I'm sure my spelling is wrong) where there is crust underneath the fruit as well as ontop of it.

P.S. I've NEVER heard of any crust or cobbler being placed in the center as you've written. It would remain doughie and gross in the center. It always goes on the bottom or the top to bake properly. You could put a crust on the bottom, a fruit layer and crust on the top plus a crumble for texture.........but only 1 layer of fruit.

#5 Varmint

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Posted 13 July 2003 - 09:11 PM

Any homemade or good quality cobbler I've eaten has been of the biscuit variety. When you go to many meat and 3 restaurants, they'll often offer a cobbler for dessert, and inevitably it's made with pie dough. I go for the banana pudding or coconut cake in those instances.
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#6 browniebaker

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Posted 14 July 2003 - 03:45 AM

I was going to let you all duke it out, but now I have to speak up.

A cobbler can indeed be made with a flaky pie pastry. I make my cobblers with a flaky pie pastry and always have. I grew up (in Nashville) eating cobblers topped with pie pastry, at friend's houses, at restaurants, and at school (whose dining hall was catered by the renowned Belle Meade Buffet Cafeteria in Nashville).

No, these are not pandowdies, since pandowdies have their top crusts pushed down into the fruit mixture mid-way through the baking before being baked some more to crisp up.

And, yes, many cobblers have not only pie pastry on top but also pie pastry layered as a sheet or in strips into the fruit mixture, which results in dumpling-like bits in the fruit mixture.

Some cobblers have you bake half of the fruit filling with a layer of pie pastry on top until golden-brown, pour the other half of the fruit filling on top, place a second layer of pie pastry on top, and return to the oven to bake until done.

Some cobblers are encased in a bottom crust and a top crust, almost like a runny pie.

Edna Lewis, the doyenne of Southern cooking, includes in her latest book _The Gift of Southern Cooking_ an old family recipe for cobbler in which the fruit filling is completely sealed inside a bottom and a top crust of flaky pie pastry that is crimped together at the edge of the baking dish. Are you going to tell her that her old family recipe does not make a cobbler because it doesn't use a biscuit topping?

My point is, cobblers are simple homey desserts made in as many different ways as there are cooks. Look in any community cookbook of whatever vintage, from whatever geographical region, and you'll see.

Like threads on the best style of barbecued ribs, this thread is not going to resolve anything. But it sure is nice to read about all the different styles of cobbler!

Edited by browniebaker, 14 July 2003 - 03:49 AM.


#7 elyse

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Posted 14 July 2003 - 04:33 AM

To me it must be biscuit dough on top, because the word cobbler comes from the look of old time cobblestone streets.

Agreed.

#8 browniebaker

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Posted 14 July 2003 - 07:15 AM

Some believe, however, that the term "cobbler" comes from the fact that dish was easily "cobbled" together out of whatever fruits one had on hand. I find this etymology more persuasive than that claiming derivation from "cobblestone." But the American Heritage Dictionary states that the etymology of the word "cobbler" is unknown.

#9 IrishCream

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Posted 14 July 2003 - 10:48 PM

Oh...my fave peach cobbler recipe comes from a Texas Hill Country (Pedernales) community cookbook. And it isn't pie dough or biscuit dough. It's a milky (no egg) batter that is poured into a pyrex dish in which you have melted butter hot (kinda like Yorkshire Pudding). It is topped with peach slices. The batter puffs up and the peaches end up on the bottom. So, it is gooey inside and crisp on top. Best of both worlds, IMO...but is it a cobbler?
Lobster.

#10 jackal10

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Posted 14 July 2003 - 11:46 PM

Oh...my fave peach cobbler recipe comes from a Texas Hill Country (Pedernales) community cookbook.  And it isn't pie dough or biscuit dough.  It's a milky (no egg) batter that is poured into a pyrex dish in which you have melted butter hot (kinda like Yorkshire Pudding).  It is topped with peach slices.  The batter puffs up and the peaches end up on the bottom.  So, it is gooey inside and crisp on top.  Best of both worlds, IMO...but is it a cobbler?

No, its a Clafoutis. But maybe the original audience wold not be familiar with the french term, so called it by their closest equivalent.
You can make them with cherries, apples or almost any fruit. Eggy batter works even better.

I believe cobbler was originally biscuit dough in lumps on the top to resemble a cobbled street, but by extension means any fruit (or indeed savoury) pie where the topping is not in a continuous sheet.
Good saoury cobblers are with the filling topped wih lumps of dumpling dough

Edited by jackal10, 14 July 2003 - 11:49 PM.


#11 Gwhit

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Posted 15 July 2003 - 04:54 AM

Gobber to me is definately sweet biscuit dough dropped on the fruit then sprinked with a little sugar or even cinnamon. The pastry type does sound interesting, but one reason I like cobbler is the fact that it is easy to make and oh so good.

Gayle

#12 Richard Kilgore

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Posted 15 July 2003 - 05:23 AM

I don't think dictionaries are going to resolve this issue. The OED says thick dough on bottom and fruit on top, and Webster's New Collegiate says fruit with dough on top. Clearly they are not going to touch the burning issue of biscuit dough vs anything else. Even Alan Davidson side-steps this controversy by calling the topping "cobbler dough".

Edited by Richard Kilgore, 15 July 2003 - 05:28 AM.


#13 Ron Johnson

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Posted 15 July 2003 - 05:36 AM

Cobbler has come to mean any sweetened fruit dessert in which the fruit mixture is poured into a ceramic or pyrex baking vessel and the crust unceremoniously draped over the top versus a pie in which the fruit filling is poured into a crust that has been blind baked in a pan.

However, a TRADITIONAL cobbler is, in fact, supposed to be topped with biscuit dough. Pie dough, is for, well, pies.

#14 gknl

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Posted 15 July 2003 - 12:10 PM

Cobbler has come to mean any sweetened fruit dessert in which the fruit mixture is poured into a ceramic or pyrex baking vessel and the crust unceremoniously draped over the top versus a pie in which the fruit filling is poured into a crust that has been blind baked in a pan.

However, a TRADITIONAL cobbler is, in fact, supposed to be topped with biscuit dough.  Pie dough, is for, well, pies.

Whose tradition? Capitalizing something doesn't necessarily make it true. :wink:

As I wrote above, many of my Southern cookbooks call for pie or pie-like dough. Are all those authors wrong or inauthentic or untraditional?

I've been told from a reliable source that Texas isn't really part of the South anyway. :wink: She grew up in Florence, Alabama, a couple of hours south of Nashville, so maybe it's a sub-regional variation of which I'm sure there are many. I was hoping to read about the various kinds when I started the thread.

Anyway, the one I made Sunday was a success: two kinds of peaches from the Farmer's Market, over-ripe yellows and slightly under-ripe white. Roughly equal amounts of each so it ended up being slices of white peach in a chunky yellow peach sauce. It was too hot to deal with pie dough, so much to the girlfriend's dismay ( :wink: ) I topped it with biscuit dough. Since the fruit was so sweet, I didn't add much sugar to the dough but topped it with vanilla ice cream. I added lemon juice, small amount of sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon to the fruit.

1 lb each yellow and white peaches, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbs cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 1/2 cups flour
4 tbs butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
buttermilk powder for 1 cup buttermilk (it was in a package, so I don't have the exact measurement)
3/4 cup milk
sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle on top

buttered 9x13 pyrex baking dish set on a foil lined baking sheet and baked at 375 (convection) for 45 minutes.

#15 IrishCream

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Posted 15 July 2003 - 12:45 PM

Since dictionaries are not answering the question, I decided to turn to The Joy of Cooking (1985). Irma says, "A cobbler, first cousin to a deep-dish pie, involves a rich biscuit dough and fruit. Baked with the fruit either under it or over it..." Her instructions give the option of either laying the biscuit dough on the bottom of the pan or spooning it over the top.
Of course, Irma was mid-western and may not be speaking to the southern tradition.

gknl...your recipe sounds great. Anyone else have recipes to share?
Lobster.

#16 gknl

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 02:10 PM

Some cobblers have you bake half of the fruit filling with a layer of pie pastry on top until golden-brown, pour the other half of the fruit filling on top, place a second layer of pie pastry on top, and return to the oven to bake until done.

I had a load of peaches dumped on me this week, so I made another cobbler and some ice cream. The girlfriend's back in Alabama, so I thought I'd make it her way. I sort of followed the methodology from Fannie Flagg's Original Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook: butter the pan, layer of fruit, sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch, top with pie dough, bake at 450 for 15 minutes until lightly browned, remove from ove, add another layer of fruit, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, top with more pie dough, bake for 30 more minutes until top crust is done. I used my favorite pie dough recipe from Chez Panisse Fruit.

It worked! Different than with a biscuit topping and different than a pie. I'm not sure which I like better, really. The middle layer of dough was soft, but not in a disgusting way, more like a dumpling. And the top crust was nice and crisp. I can see this sucking with mediocre pie dough, but with the good crust, this was really quite enjoyable.

The disappointing thing was the mediocrity of the fruit itself. Just didn't compare to the farmer's market peaches I bought before.

#17 Katherine

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 03:26 PM

Edna Lewis, the doyenne of Southern cooking, includes in her latest book _The Gift of Southern Cooking_ an old family recipe for cobbler in which the fruit filling is completely sealed inside a bottom and a top crust of flaky pie pastry that is crimped together at the edge of the baking dish. Are you going to tell her that her old family recipe does not make a cobbler because it doesn't use a biscuit topping?

Yup. That's a pie.

#18 KAPDADDY

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Posted 26 July 2003 - 07:20 PM

If there's any actual layering going on, I can't call that a cobbler. I have never seen a neat-looking cobbler in my life. Cobblers are meant to be thrown together....fast and easy.

When I think of cobbler, I think of sweetened fruit and chunks of dough mixed together and then baked. No crust, no shell, just yummy deliciousness. Sure you may end up with some dough on top that kinda sorta resembles a shell, and some on the bottom that kinda sorta could be mistaken for a deformed crust, but that's the beauty of the cobbler.

As for biscuit dough vs pie dough, I've had incredible cobblers with both. If I'm craving a syrupy, gooey cobbler with more fruit and less dough, then I'll do the pie dough version. If I want a firmer, breadier cobbler then I do the biscuit dough version.

#19 IrishCream

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 03:58 AM

Clearly, the word "cobbler" and what it means depends on local tradition. It means something different to all of us...fascinating.

My Louisiana born and bred husband announced a few days ago that he was going to make a cobbler with some of the ollalaberries we had picked and frozen in June. Being atune to this thread, I immediately asked, "With biscuit dough?" He was apalled and said, "No, I am making a real cobbler, like my Grandma used to make." And so he did. He made a pie dough...fitted it into the bottom and up the sides of a bread pan! Filled it with fruit. Then rolled out a top with a 2-3 inch overhang which he left on. Extra crust! (It was delicious).

So where does this leave us? It seems that pie dough cobbler is much more common in the south....while biscuit is common in the north. Seems a bit strange given "Southern Biscuits". But perhaps that explains it. In the south, biscuits were traditionally served with every meal. To add them to dessert would be a repetition.
Lobster.

#20 fifi

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 03:32 PM

Oh...my fave peach cobbler recipe comes from a Texas Hill Country (Pedernales) community cookbook.  And it isn't pie dough or biscuit dough.  It's a milky (no egg) batter that is poured into a pyrex dish in which you have melted butter hot (kinda like Yorkshire Pudding).  It is topped with peach slices.  The batter puffs up and the peaches end up on the bottom.  So, it is gooey inside and crisp on top.  Best of both worlds, IMO...but is it a cobbler?

No, its a Clafoutis. But maybe the original audience wold not be familiar with the french term, so called it by their closest equivalent.
You can make them with cherries, apples or almost any fruit. Eggy batter works even better.

I believe cobbler was originally biscuit dough in lumps on the top to resemble a cobbled street, but by extension means any fruit (or indeed savoury) pie where the topping is not in a continuous sheet.
Good saoury cobblers are with the filling topped wih lumps of dumpling dough

OMG! All of these years I have been making that recipe and now I find out I have been making a Clafoutis? I find that deeply disturbing. :blink:
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

#21 JSD

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 05:59 PM

I've been told from a reliable source that Texas isn't really part of the South anyway. :wink:

It's risky to generalize about Texas since it's so large and varied. It's like the blind men and the elephant. Part of Texas is definitely in the South. The dividing line runs somewhere between Houston and Beaumont. I lived in that part of Texas and it's very Southern in character. This area includes Jasper.

#22 fresco

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 07:13 PM

Are fruit crisps--topped with oatmeal, flour, sugar and butter--considered to be a subcategory of cobblers? Is there some other name for them?

Edited by fresco, 27 July 2003 - 07:14 PM.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"

#23 KelMH

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 07:40 PM


I've been told from a reliable source that Texas isn't really part of the South anyway.   :wink:  

It's risky to generalize about Texas since it's so large and varied. It's like the blind men and the elephant. Part of Texas is definitely in the South. The dividing line runs somewhere between Houston and Beaumont. I lived in that part of Texas and it's very Southern in character. This area includes Jasper.

Texan cuisine, with the possible exception of the far western region of the state, is intrinsically rooted in the same southern cuisine that could be found in any other part of the south.
Kelli

#24 fifi

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 07:52 PM

I remember arguing this point when they split the regional threads and put Texas in Southwest. The eastern part is definitely in the "South".

So why is my Central Texas cobbler a Clafoutis???
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#25 gknl

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 09:00 PM


I've been told from a reliable source that Texas isn't really part of the South anyway.   :wink:  

It's risky to generalize about Texas since it's so large and varied. It's like the blind men and the elephant. Part of Texas is definitely in the South. The dividing line runs somewhere between Houston and Beaumont. I lived in that part of Texas and it's very Southern in character. This area includes Jasper.

The :wink: thingie is a "wink" meaning "it's a joke." :rolleyes:

But, since you brought it up, if people are going to argue about what "real cobbler" is topped with, why not argue about what's "really the South" too? :wink:

After all, one person's cobbler is another person's pieclafoutipandowdybucklegruntslurpcrispcrunch etc.

Just wait a month when we start talking about football. :wink:

#26 gknl

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 09:02 PM

So why is my Central Texas cobbler a Clafoutis???

It's not, clafoutis use eggs and the batter is poured over the fruit so it's almost custard like.

ediot: :wink: :raz: :smile: :biggrin: :laugh: :cool:

Edited by gknl, 27 July 2003 - 09:03 PM.


#27 JSD

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Posted 27 July 2003 - 09:47 PM


I've been told from a reliable source that Texas isn't really part of the South anyway.   :wink:  

It's risky to generalize about Texas since it's so large and varied. It's like the blind men and the elephant. Part of Texas is definitely in the South. The dividing line runs somewhere between Houston and Beaumont. I lived in that part of Texas and it's very Southern in character. This area includes Jasper.

The :wink: thingie is a "wink" meaning "it's a joke." :rolleyes:

But, since you brought it up, if people are going to argue about what "real cobbler" is topped with, why not argue about what's "really the South" too? :wink:

After all, one person's cobbler is another person's pieclafoutipandowdybucklegruntslurpcrispcrunch etc.

Just wait a month when we start talking about football. :wink:

Well, I wasn't arguing about what's "real" cobbler, anyway, only what's really the South. I'm not from the South, I only lived there. I don't have a strong opinion about cobbler, other than I like to eat it.

Is football only a month away? Oh joy.

#28 browniebaker

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 05:24 AM

Oh...my fave peach cobbler recipe comes from a Texas Hill Country (Pedernales) community cookbook.  And it isn't pie dough or biscuit dough.  It's a milky (no egg) batter that is poured into a pyrex dish in which you have melted butter hot (kinda like Yorkshire Pudding).  It is topped with peach slices.  The batter puffs up and the peaches end up on the bottom.  So, it is gooey inside and crisp on top.  Best of both worlds, IMO...but is it a cobbler?

No, its a Clafoutis. But maybe the original audience wold not be familiar with the french term, so called it by their closest equivalent.
You can make them with cherries, apples or almost any fruit. Eggy batter works even better.

I believe cobbler was originally biscuit dough in lumps on the top to resemble a cobbled street, but by extension means any fruit (or indeed savoury) pie where the topping is not in a continuous sheet.
Good saoury cobblers are with the filling topped wih lumps of dumpling dough

OMG! All of these years I have been making that recipe and now I find out I have been making a Clafoutis? I find that deeply disturbing. :blink:

Not to worry. It's NOT a clafoutis, which requires egg in the batter.

#29 jackal10

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 05:47 AM

Not to worry. It's NOT a clafoutis, which requires egg in the batter.

What is your authority for that?

The original Limousin dish may have been cherries in a flan custard (with or without a pastry base), but modern usage (e.g. Larousse 1984) defines it as "[fruit] arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a fairly thick pancake batter". No mention of eggs, and I submit fairly close to

It's a milky (no egg) batter that is poured into a pyrex dish in which you have melted butter hot (kinda like Yorkshire Pudding).  It is topped with peach slices


Larousse goes on to say
" The Academie Francaise, who had defined clafoutis as a "sort of fruit flan" were faced with protests from the inhabitants of Limoges and changed their definition to "cake with black cherries". Never the less there are numerous variations using cherries or other fruits. The word comes from the provincial dialect word clafir (to fill)"

Yorkshire puddings always have egg in the batter - that is what gives the rise. Maybe the pudding described would be even better with an eggy batter...

Edited by jackal10, 28 July 2003 - 06:17 AM.


#30 browniebaker

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Posted 28 July 2003 - 07:02 AM

Not to worry. It's NOT a clafoutis, which requires egg in the batter.

What is your authority for that?

The original Limousin dish may have been cherries in a flan custard (with or without a pastry base), but modern usage (e.g. Larousse 1984) defines it as "[fruit] arranged in a buttered dish and covered with a fairly thick pancake batter". No mention of eggs, and I submit fairly close to

It's a milky (no egg) batter that is poured into a pyrex dish in which you have melted butter hot (kinda like Yorkshire Pudding).  It is topped with peach slices


Larousse goes on to say
" The Academie Francaise, who had defined clafoutis as a "sort of fruit flan" were faced with protests from the inhabitants of Limoges and changed their definition to "cake with black cherries". Never the less there are numerous variations using cherries or other fruits. The word comes from the provincial dialect word clafir (to fill)"

Yorkshire puddings always have egg in the batter - that is what gives the rise. Maybe the pudding described would be even better with an eggy batter...

My authority? Just my knowledge (that I acquired from living in France and that I have had so long, I don't know when or how I first acquired it) that the dish that the French call clafoutis is made with an egg-based batter. Even the definition that you cite defines clafoutis as a "flan"-like dish made with "pancake batter." Flans and pancakes are both typically made with eggs.

The point is, not everything with a batter poured over it is a clafoutis.