When I was in Rhode Island recently, blueberries were just on the cusp of spilling forth, and I was lucky to be able to find some of the early, inky-colored orbs. Because I grew up in New England, I have a special fondness for blueberries, which are rather scarce in Paris* (when available, they’re sold in small barquettes with a few dozen berries in them), so I get my fill during trips to the East Coast, where they’re plentiful in the summer.
While blueberries certainly are wonderful paired with other summer fruits, likes nectarines, peaches, apricots, and plums, it’s really nice to get a big, solid wallop of berries in each spoonful. So sometimes I like to pack them in, and use them on their own, rather than have them play a supporting role. Although they’re no slouch in that department, either.
The drop biscuits that I used here are easier to deal with than traditional biscuits because there’s no rolling out; you just mix it up, then drop ’em on. They’re more crumbly than flaky, and because they’re not overly handled when you’re mixing the dough, don’t expect them to look perfect. The trade-off is less work, and less clean-up. Count me in on both of those, especially when I’m on vacation.
Cooking away from home often means you have to be a little more inventive. I scurried around the kitchen I was baking in and found that all the gratin dishes were already in service. So I pulled one of the saute pans off the shelf, and used that. The result was a bubbling skillet of berries, which got served with melting scoops of vanilla ice cream for dessert. But don’t be shy about eating leftovers the next day for breakfast. You can either rewarm the cobbler and biscuits in a low oven, or if you’re anything like me, you can spoon it up right from the pan, if you just can’t wait.
Topping adapted from Ready for Dessert
I baked my cobbler in a 10-inch (23cm) skillet, but you can use a 1 1/2- to 2-quart (1,5-2l) baking dish, or similar sized vessel. The juniper flavors found in gin go well with blueberries. But if you're avoiding alcohol, you can replace it with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract. If using frozen blueberries, don't defrost them before using.
If you have buttermilk on hand, you can use that in place of the milk with vinegar. Tapioca flour or potato starch makes a good substitute for the cornstarch.
For the blueberry filling
6 cups (960g) blueberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons dark or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
zest of one lemon, preferably unsprayed
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons gin
For the biscuits
2/3 cup (160ml) milk, whole or lowfat
2 teaspoons white or cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces, 60g) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
For the egg wash
1 teaspoon milk
1 medium or large egg yolk
2 teaspoons turbinado (or granulated) sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
2. To make the blueberry filling, mix the blueberries in a 10-inch (23cm) skillet or baking dish with the granulated and brown sugars, cornstarch, lemon zest and juice, and gin. Place the pan on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet (to catch any spills), and bake until the berries start bubbling, stirring once midway during baking, about 30 to 35 minutes.
3. In a measuring cup, mix the milk with the vinegar and let stand until curdled, about 10 minutes.
4. To make the biscuits, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and use a pastry blender, or your hands, to break the butter into pieces the size of corn kernels. Give the milk a brisk stir with a fork to bring it back together, then add it to the dry ingredients.
5. Stir the mixture gently with your hands or a spatula until it comes together, but avoid kneading it; overworking the batter will make the biscuits tough. It should be somewhat shaggy, not smooth. If the mixture seems too dry, add another tablespoon of milk.
6. Drop the biscuit batter over the warm cooked blueberries in six dollops, evenly spaced apart. If you want smaller biscuits, you can drop it in eight dollops.
7. In a small bowl, make the egg wash by stirring together the egg yolk and teaspoon of milk together with a fork. Dab the egg wash over the biscuits with a brush. Sprinkle the 2 teaspoons of turbinado sugar over the biscuits.
7. Bake the biscuit-topped cobbler until the tops of the biscuits are golden brown and the biscuits are cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Related Links and Recipes
Ingredients for American Baking Ingredients in Paris
Gluten-Free Baking and Substitutions
Blueberry Buckle with Lemon Syrup
Vanilla Ice Cream
Mango Frozen Yogurt with Blueberry Compote
*In Paris, I’ve had luck finding organic blueberries (from Spain) in bulk at Biocoop stores. And one summer a few years back, a vendor at the Saturday Batignolles organic market was selling large baskets of myrtilles. I’m not a regular at that market, so not sure if they make an annual appearance there, but it might be worth a look.