To me, one of the sweetest rewards of waiting all year long for warm weather is the sweet-tart, firm, ink-red cherries that flourish for a short season. After ogling Party's cherry pie, I decided it was high time I make my own pastry with this beloved stone fruit. Nothing's more summery than a fruit cobbler, still piping hot from the oven and covered with moist biscuit dough. I'm torn, however, between two different versions: a quickie that calls for frozen dark cherries (so I can save my fresh ones for eating out of hand), and a slightly more laborious (yet equally rewarding) adaptation that takes advantage of juicy, just-pitted fresh fruit. Which one should I make? See both when you read more.
3 cups frozen dark sweet cherries (14 oz; not thawed)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Scant 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
1/3 cup well-shaken low-fat buttermilk
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
- Make filling: Cook all filling ingredients with a pinch of salt in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar begins to dissolve, about 3 minutes. Spoon filling into a 9-inch ceramic or glass pie plate (1 inch deep).
- Make topping and bake cobbler: Whisk together flour, 2 teaspoons sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in buttermilk with a fork until just combined (do not overmix). Drop dough in 4 mounds over filling, leaving space between mounds. Sprinkle topping with remaining teaspoon sugar.
- Bake until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling, about 25 minutes. Cool slightly and serve warm.
5 cups pitted fresh Bing cherries or other sweet cherries (about 3 lb. unpitted)
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, strained
3 Tbs. sugar
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbs. sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- Preheat an oven to 375°F. For individual servings, place six 1-cup ramekins or custard cups on a rimmed sheet. For a large cobbler, have ready a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie dish or baking dish with sides at least 2 3/4 inches high.
- To make the filling, in a large bowl, stir together the cherries, lemon juice and sugar until well mixed. Divide the fruit among the ramekins or pour into the pie dish or baking dish. Bake the fruit for 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.
- To make the topping by hand, in a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in the butter until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of small peas. Pour the buttermilk mixture over the flour mixture and, using a large wooden spoon, stir just until combined and a soft, sticky, evenly moistened dough forms.
- To make the topping with an electric mixer, in a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the butter pieces. Beat on low speed until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of small peas, about 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the buttermilk mixture and continue to beat just until combined and a soft, sticky, evenly moistened dough forms.
- Drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls onto the hot fruit, spacing it evenly over the surface. The topping will not cover the fruit but will spread during baking to cover it. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the dough.
- Bake the cobbler until the fruit filling is bubbling, the topping is browned, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the topping comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve warm.