This is not a weekend project. There's no bubbling of yeast, no crimping of edges, no piping of icing. There's no cake-layer-splitting, no gelatin-blooming, no buttercream-beating. No latticework, no zesting, no fuss. It's a summer dessert with a bit of fun thrown in -- assuming you can stamp out some shapes with a small cutter and chuck them atop a bowl of sliced fruit. If you can't do that, or if you won't, you may just want to buy some sno-balls and call it a night.
This cobbler, this crazily haphazard but undeniably winsome dessert, is for those like me who are too lazy to follow a 2-page recipe after 5:00 o'clock at night. I don't blame Nancy Baggett, I really don't, since her recipe for High Summer Cobbler with Buttermilk Biscuit Crust is what started me down this cobbler road to begin with. But when I set out my ingredients and preheated my oven, I took a closer look at her recipe and said to myself, "Self, there has got to be an easier way."
Enter Mark Bittman.
He saved me, this man, with his no-nonsense manner and unapologetic shortcuts. His "patchwork bake" inspired me to streamline the entire cobbler-making process. And so, by the power vested in me by the state of extreme lassitude, I married Baggett to Bittman and surrogated a stone fruit love child.
No gifts, please. Just applause.
Recipe for Summer Fruit Cobbler with Buttermilk Cutouts
This recipe was inspired equally by Nancy Baggett's high-summer cobbler in The All-American Dessert Book (2005, Houghton Mifflin) and Mark Bittman's recent Stone Fruit Patchwork Bake recipe in the New York Times. Cutting the dough into hearts, stars, spades, and clovers can be credited to my son Andrew, who managed to unearth my set of mini cookie cutters from my messiest kitchen drawer.
Please feel free to use any stone fruit, or any berries (except strawberries, please) in the cobbler. And use any small cutters you have on hand, or even just freehand the dough into little shapes. One more thing: my fruit was ripe but firm, so I could peel it with a vegetable peeler. Easy!
Serves 4, generously
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 6 tablespoons for the filling
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
1/3 cup cold buttermilk
1-1/2 cups raspberries
3 yellow peaches, peeled and sliced (2-1/2 cups slices)
2 to 4 plums or pluots, peeled, sliced (2 cups slices)
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
In a food processor, combine the 1-1/3 cups flour, the baking soda, and the salt. Pulse a few times, then add the butter chunks. Process for about 15 seconds. With the machine running, slowly stream in the buttermilk through the feed tube. Process until the dough comes together. Scrape onto a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, and chill for a good 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine all the fruit, the remaining 6 tablespoons of flour, the sugar, and the lemon juice. Stir gently to combine. Butter a 9x13-inch (glass, if possible) baking dish and scoop in fruit mixture. Bake naked like this for 25 minutes. Remove from oven but leave oven on.
Meanwhile, while fruit is baking, remove the dough from the fridge. On a floured board using a floured pin, roll the dough roughly 1/8" thick. Cut out as many little dough-shapes as you like (dip the cutters in flour if the dough sticks) and scatter them haphazardly over the fruit. You want a little fruit peeking through -- there's no need to overlap the dough shapes, but if they touch, it's fine. (You may have some dough left over. Re-wrap and refrigerate or freeze for future use.)
Return dough-covered cobbler to the oven for an additional 22 to 25 minutes, or until filling bubbles and pastry is nicely browned. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold for breakfast with a little plain yogurt. (Cool completely before refrigerating.)