Easier Than Pie: Berry Cobbler

Cobbler is a great little dodge for dessert and, in my opinion, easier than pie. friends of mine knock out pie with enormous ease, for which I admire them, but I’ll be darned if I manage that very often. So here I confess sheer laziness. There is the cutting of butter and lard into the flour and salt, then the calibrated tossing of the result with icy water until it makes a dough. Then the chilling, and the rolling while preventing holes from developing and making sure the rim is even…honestly, no wonder many opt for premade pastry crust.

A cobbler, on the other hand, like this one from Vicky Landry of Little Deer Isle, creates a pie filling topped with a rich dough that mostly spreads itself, tastes good, and takes only moments, perfectly suitable for family suppers. It calls for berries—blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, what-have-you-fresh-in-season—and Vicky said she added chopped apple, a great way to extend that quart of blueberries. It also works in winter with frozen fruit. I’ve used blueberries, raspberries and a handful of home-dried apple pieces which nicely absorbed the berry juiciness and thickened the filling without added starch from flour, cornstarch, or tapioca.

The cobbler topping has the added virtue of working well with gluten-less flour substitutes and if your life is further complicated by needing non-dairy milk, it works with coconut, almond, and other milk substitutes. Very obliging recipe.

When I tried the recipe, I thought the ratio of dough to fruit was a little high; I prefer more fruit. To a quart of fresh berries, I’d use half the dough recipe. Or double the berry amount by adding more berries, or do as Vicky did by adding chopped apple. Also, as usual, I reduced the sugar. After you have followed the first step of lightly stewing the fruit with sugar, taste it, and add more if you want to. Mainly, suit yourself; don’t forget that you can season your fruit or dough with spice. Of course, serve with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or, as Vicky suggested, frozen custard.

Berry Cobbler
  • Berry Cobbler
  • Filling:
  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen berries
  • 1 cup of sugar, or more to taste
  • Water
  • Cinnamon or nutmeg to taste
  • Dough topping:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Cinnamon to taste, optional.
  • ½ cup milk
  • Whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen custard, optional
  1. Heat the oven to 350.
  2. Put the berries in a metal or glass baking dish about nine-by-nine-inches, add the cup of sugar, then add just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bring the berries, sugar, and water to a boil, then reduce the heat immediately.
  4. Meanwhile, cream together the butter and half cup of sugar, then beat in the eggs and vanilla.
  5. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, optional spice, and add to the butter and eggs mixture, mixing with a few swift strokes until all the flour is incorporated.
  6. Add milk and mix well.
  7. Pour the batter over the top of the berry mixture.
  8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the topping is firm and lightly golden.
  9. Serve warm with whipped cream, ice cream, or frozen custard
  10. Serves four to six.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.