Food & Drink

Serviceberry Skillet Cobbler

Blueberries’ wilder cousins make the perfect surprise ending to any summer meal

Photo: Johnny Autry | Food Styling by Charlotte Autry

“Everybody loves blueberries,” says Ashley Capps, the pastry chef at Asheville’s Buxton Hall Barbecue. Serviceberries, however, speak more to her soul. “They’re blueberries’ wilder cousin—the black sheep,” she says. “They taste like a cross between a fresh currant and a blueberry.” Different varieties of the scrubby trees grow wild all over the eastern United States. Mountain lore holds that their name is a nod to seasonality—when serviceberry trees began blooming in late spring, the ground was warm enough to dig a grave and hold a funeral. Capps grew up in the Piedmont town of Burlington and spent time in the kitchens of chef John Fleer’s Rhubarb in Asheville and Eleven Madison Park in New York (the culinary equivalent of attending both Vanderbilt and Harvard). For the cobblers she makes at Buxton, she plucks serviceberries from a tree that grows outside of a discreet club nearby. (“Membership is, like, a dollar, and it’s mostly to keep the tourists out.”) If you can’t find serviceberries, substitute any berry, plums, or peaches.

There’s just one rule Capps won’t bend. “You have to have more fruit than batter. If a cobbler is more cake than fruit, it’s sad.”


>See More Summer Berry Recipes


  • Yield: 6–8 servings

  • For the Fruit

    • 1 pint serviceberries

    • ¼ cup honey

    • ½ tsp. salt

    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

    • 1 tsp. orange or lemon zest

    • ¼ tsp. clove or allspice

    • ½ cup brewed tea, any flavor

    • 1 tbsp. flour

  • For the batter:

    • 1 egg

    • 1 cup cold buttermilk

    • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted, plus 2 tbsp. cold butter

    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

    • 1 cup soft wheat pastry flour

    • 2 tbsp. coarse cornmeal

    • ¼ tsp. baking soda

    • ¼ tsp. baking powder

    • ½ tsp. salt

    • ½ cup brown sugar

    • ¼ tsp. ground ginger

    • Demerara sugar (several pinches)


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven; keep hot.

  2. To marinate the serviceberries, place them in a bowl and add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Set aside.

  3. To make the batter, place the wet ingredients (egg, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla) in a bowl and whisk to blend. In a separate bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, brown sugar, and ginger) to combine. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry.

  4. Remove the hot skillet from the oven, add 2 tbsp. butter to the skillet, melt, and allow to foam (about 1–2 minutes). Swiftly pour in half of the batter, spoon the fruit over it, then spoon the rest of the batter over the fruit. Sprinkle top with sugar. 

  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350°F. Finish baking for about 20 minutes to set. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  6. Serve family-style.

Recipe from Ashley Capps, of Buxton Hall Barbecue in Asheville, North Carolina