Folks spend a great deal of time waxing poetically about the virtues of pie, but I'm going to make a strong declaration: Fruit cobbler beats the pants off of fruit pie. For starters, there's no messing around with cold butter and pie dough in a hot kitchen in the middle of July. Cobbler doesn't have a bottom crust destined for sogginess, and if the juices of a cobbler run a little thin, it actually makes the dessert better. Cobbler delivers a crisp and tender top crust with jammy fruit filling underneath, it begs for a scoop of ice cream, and can go from craving to warm on the table in about an hour.
As much as I have strong opinions about cobbler versus pie, I also have very high standards for what makes a good cobbler topping. Regional variations abound, with some mimicking pie dough and others closer to a dumpling than a pastry, but the very best topping for cobbler is an easy sweet cream biscuit. A cream biscuit topping bakes up with crisp crust that breaks under the pressure of your fork, yielding to a tender, cake-like biscuit that greedily soaks up rich fruit juices.
Ready for the best cobbler of your life — one that you can memorize and bake anywhere, anytime? Here's how to do it.
What Is Fruit Cobbler?
Cobblers, crisps, and crumbles are often grouped together into a family of recipes I like to call casual fruit desserts. The share a similar philosophy and can also have the exact same fruit filling, but their toppings are distinctly different. Cobbler topping should be a thick, dense pastry — usually a sweet cream biscuit — with a lightly sweetened fruit filling below.
Here are the four steps that every cobbler requires.
- Make a fruit filling — from any fruit.
- Make a sweet cream biscuit cobbler topping.
- Bake the fruit cobbler until bubbly.
- Serve the cobbler to joy and delight.
Making the Fruit Filling
Cobbler can be made from any fruit, fresh or frozen, and any combination of fruit. As a general rule you'll want about 6 cups of chopped fruit, roughly 1 1/2 pounds for most baking dishes. Make sure frozen fruit is thawed completely before baking. You can bake a cobbler with just fruit as the filling, but a little sugar and cornstarch tossed with the fruit before baking will work together to create a lush sauce from the fruit's juices. This is the thing that turns a good cobbler into knock-out dessert.
How to Make Cobbler Topping
A cream biscuit is the easiest and fastest path from craving to cobbler satisfaction. These easy-to-make biscuits bake up crisp on top and light and fluffy underneath — an ideal contrast to the soft, luscious fruit filling. Cream biscuits are a quick bread made tender with full-fat cream, rather than butter and buttermilk. They only require flour, a little sugar, baking powder, and heavy cream.
Read more: How To Make Cream Biscuits
Baking and Serving Cobbler
Cobbler always takes a bit longer to bake than most people think. It's important that the fruit filling comes to a full boil in the oven to ensure that the sauce is properly thickened. If you're fearful of undercooked biscuits, go ahead and take a temperature of the biscuits in the middle of the dish — like all breads they should reach 200°F when fully baked.
Cobblers always bake up a little looser and more juicy than pie, so spoon that valuable liquid over the biscuit topping or a scoop of ice cream and keep in mind the juices will thicken as the cobbler cools. Serving warm cobbler with ice cream is a given, but it's just as enjoyable when served cool the next day with a dollop of plain yogurt. It's just the sort of breakfast that will make you a hero of any lazy summer morning.
How To Make a Fruit Cobbler by Heart
What You Need
For the fruit filling:
4 to 7 cups sliced fruit
1/2 to 1 cup granulated sugar or packed brown sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
1 to 2 teaspoons ground spice, such as cinnamon (optional)
For the cobbler topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
For topping: (optional)
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon demerara sugar
8x8-inch baking pan, 9x9-inch baking pan, or 9-inch pie plate
Measuring spoons and cups
Baking sheet or aluminum foil, to catch drips
- Heat the oven to 375°F. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Coat a 8 or 9-inch square baking dish, or 9-inch pie plate, with butter; set aside.
- Prepare the fruit. Prepare the fruit as necessary — wash, peel, stem, seed, slice, and so on. Give it a taste and mix in some sugar or lemon juice as needed. If your fruit is juicy or you'd like a more firmly set cobbler, mix in some cornstarch. Mix in spice, if desired.
- Transfer the fruit to the baking dish. Transfer the fruit mixture to the baking dish —it should fill the dish halfway to three-quarters full, leaving a good inch or so of extra space for the cobbler topping.
- Mix the dry ingredients for the cobbler topping. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
- Add the cream to the topping mixture. Pour in the cream. Stir until just combined; the dough will be quite wet.
- Scoop the cobbler mixture onto the fruit mixture. Using either a small ice cream scoop or two tablespoons, scoop 2-tablespoon portions of the cobbler dough onto the fruit.
- Bake for 45 to 55 minutes. Brush the cobbler dough with the cream and sprinkle with the sugar. Place the cobbler on a baking sheet to catch drips, or place aluminum foil beneath it in the oven. Bake until the topping is turning golden brown around the edges and the fruit filling is bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes.
- Cool the cobbler and serve. Let the cobbler cool for at least a few minutes so it doesn't burn your mouth! The cobbler can also be served room temperature or the next day.
- Storage: Leftover cobbler can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.