Years ago, in New Bern, North Carolina, Bill Smith’s great-grandmother offered him a deal. Anytime he’d pick a quart of blackberries, she’d bake a pie. “She was a fabulous cook,” he says. So each year, when the berries were ripe, he walked along the railroad tracks gathering fruit. Today, Smith’s blackberries come from a prolific patch across the street from the legendary Crook’s Corner. During the summer, they play starring roles in desserts such as this blackberry and peach cobbler, topped with a pecan-studded, shortbreadlike crust that has been on the restaurant’s menu for decades. “That crust recipe was here when I got here twenty-three years ago,” Smith says. “It’s somebody’s grandma’s, probably, and it tastes like a delicious cookie.” Easier than pie, this timeless cobbler feeds a small crowd of hungry berry pickers.
Food & Drink
Blackberry and Peach Cobbler
The crowd-pleaser dessert
photo: Johnny Autry
8 cups fresh blackberries
8 cups peeled, sliced peaches
3 cups sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1¼ cup (2½ sticks) butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup crystallized ginger, chopped
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350°F.
For the filling:
Place fruit in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Sift dry ingredients over fruit and fold them in with a spatula. Then let fruit mixture sit for 20 minutes.
For the crust:
Place butter and white and brown sugars in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy. Add ginger and pecans, stirring to combine. In a separate bowl, combine baking powder, salt, and flour. Add dry ingredients to butter-and-sugar mixture one cup at a time. The result should resemble cookie dough.
Pour fruit filling into a deep 4-quart baking dish, and then drop pieces of dough over the top to cover.
Place baking dish in a jelly-roll pan—to catch any filling that may overflow—and bake for 1 hour. Check the cobbler periodically to make sure the crust doesn’t become too brown before the filling is fully cooked. (You may need to turn the oven temperature down to 325°F.) Filling should be bubbly around the edges.
Serve with fresh whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or both.
Recipe from pastry chef Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
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