Friday, December 7, 2012

Pear Cranberry Cobbler

This chilly wet weather seems to be inviting thoughts of comfort food.  And among the most satisfying of comfort foods in the realm of pastry is fruit cobbler, a good old-fashioned spoon dessert.  This is a winterized version with a pear and cranberry filling.  The fruit is tart and spiced with a touch of cardamom.  The biscuit topping is tender and perfect for soaking up the juices.  And it's a welcome dose of bright color in a season of spice cakes and chocolate.

The cobbler is easily tossed together, something you can appreciate if you're beginning to feel the stress of many, many errands.  The fruit is first baked in the oven to soften and release the juices.  Then the biscuits are spun together and placed on top of the bubbling filling and baked until they're golden brown.  Easy, familiar and of the season.  Serve warm for a nice dose of simple comfort in the midst of the rain and all the holiday preparations.

Bench notes:
- Pears should be ripening but firm.  I used D'Anjous.
- I love tart desserts but you may want to sample the fruit halfway through cooking to see if you'd like it sweeter.  Then add sugar accordingly and continue to bake.
- Stir the sour cream before measuring to integrate all the liquids.  You can substitute heavy cream or buttermilk for the sour cream.
- Place the baking dish on top of a baking sheet to catch any potential spillover as the fruit cooks.
- Gild the lily with a scoop of ice cream!

Pear Cranberry Cobbler
Makes 6 servings

3 fresh pears
1 1/2 C fresh cranberries
1/2 C sugar
heaping 1/4 t cardamom
zest of 1/2 orange
1/4 C water

1 C flour
2 T sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/8 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2 oz (4 T) cold butter
1/2 C sour cream

1/2 T butter, melted
sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly butter a deep 9" pie or square baking dish.

For the filling, peel and core the pears and slice into 1/4" wedges.  Place them in the baking dish and toss with the cranberries, sugar, cardamom, orange zest and water.  Cover the dish tightly with foil, place on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes.

While the fruit is baking, prepare the cobbler biscuits.  Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture, tossing to coat each piece.  Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse meal.   Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the sour cream into the well.  Using a fork, fluff the flour into the center and gently stir and turn the ingredients.  It will look lumpy and clumpy.

Turn out the dough onto a work surface.  Give it a very gentle kneading.  About 3 - 4 turns should be enough to consolidate it.  Pat into a round about 7 1/2" in diameter and nearly 1 1/2" thick.  Use a 2" or 2 1/2" cutter to form the biscuits.  Gather the scraps and gently press and pat them into an additional biscuit.

When fruit is ready, place the biscuits on top.  Brush the tops with melted butter and sprinkle lightly with sugar.  Bake until the filling is bubbling and the biscuits are golden brown, about 25 - 30 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Elly McCausland said...

Pears and cranberries have become a favourite combination in my kitchen over the last couple of weeks. I love the sweetness of pears with the tartness of cranberries. Even better with a buttery biscuit to balance the whole thing out. This looks wonderful!

pastry studio said...

Happy baking and best of season to you, Elly!