Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

14 Jul

I’ve been working on an apple cookbook for W.W. Norton for far too long, and am devoting the next several weeks to finishing it up. Here’s a recipe from yesterday’s session—one of my favorites so far.

Pale, but tasty!

Pale, but tasty!

Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits

You know you have a good dessert when, after spending all day in the kitchen developing it, you still choose to eat another serving instead of a proper dinner. This is a fresh and unexpected take on a New England classic, topped with tender but crunchy cornmeal biscuits, laced with lemon and glazed with cream and sugar. The apples and pears in the filling are fully complementary (remember: fruits that sweeten together can be eaten together!), and really pop with a hit of lemon juice.

Active time: 35 minutes; Total time: 65 minutes
Makes: 8 servings

For the filling:
2 1/2 pounds firm-tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Newtown Pippin
1 1/2 pounds ripe pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small cubes

For the topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal (white or yellow, not stone-ground)
2 tablespoons, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon each, salt and freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons chilled heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 400°, and position rack in center of oven. Peel and core apples and pears. Cut apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices and pears into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Put fruit in 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven or other deep baking dish with sides at least 3 1/2-inches high. Add sugar, lemon juice, flour, and butter, and toss to combine. Put in oven and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Add butter and work into thin little flakes with your fingertips. The dry ingredients will begin to look mealy as you do. Add 1 cup cream and stir with a fork until dough just comes together. Gently pat dough out on a well-floured surface to a 3/4-inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter to cut out rounds (a 2 1/2-inch cutter yields 12 biscuits), scraping and re-rolling dough as needed. Chill biscuits in refrigerator while fruit finishes first round of cooking.

3. Remove fruit mixture from oven and give it a quick stir. Arrange biscuits over fruit, overlapping slightly, brush with remaining 2 tablespoons cream and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Return to oven, uncovered, and bake until top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling, about 35 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of fresh cream, or nothing at all.

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