Glorious but homely cobblers were developed by early American settlers. Unable to make their favourite pies and puddings from home without some of the usual ingredients and with only rudimentary cooking equipment, they improvised by laying circles of biscuit dough on top of stews and fruit.
The name ‘cobbler’ may well come from the way the half-scone half biscuit topping looks like cobbles laid over the filling, or, it may be the fact it seems to be just hastily ‘cobbled together’.
Berries, plums, peaches or rhubarb make the best cobblers: the cobbles, with their delicate underside and crunchy top, need to be almost floating in plenty of juice.
Here’s the rhubarb version, perfect with early forced rhubarb from late winter until the end of the main-crop rhubarb season in July. In fact, it’s worth freezing rhubarb so you can make rhubarb cobblers all the year round.
It may seem counter-intuitive to squeeze the cobbles of dough into shape but miraculously, they survive this unexpected rough handling with beautifully light results.
- 600-700g rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 1 cm pieces
- 75g golden caster sugar, or to taste
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- 250g plain flour
- 2 level teaspoons baking powder
- 175g golden caster sugar
- 150g salted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 180C (fan oven) gas mark 6 or equivalent
You will need a1litre capacity baking dish & a baking tray
Combine the rhubarb and sugar and leave for 20-30 minutes until the juices run. Add water and cook gently for 10 minutes or until just tender.
Spoon the fruit into baking dish: it should come ¾ of the way to the top. Set the dish on baking tray (this will prevent any drips of juice spilling over onto the bottom of the oven).
Combine flour, baking powder and sugar and stir in melted butter. Working quickly, whilst still warm, take satsuma-size balls of the rich crumbly dough and squeeze and shape into flat discs 1cm thick. Lay over fruit, touching but not overlapping.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cobbles are golden and fruit bubbling.
Sprinkle cobbles with extra sugar before serving with thick cream or custard.