[Torben:] A couple weeks ago, we had the super cool opportunity to produce a poem/recipe combo for a live event held by Dinner Party Press. The Press was started in London but also operates out of Australia. The event, part of a series of four such events, brought food and poetry together. We were lucky enough to read alongside Eileen Chong and Emily S. Cooper, both of whom are both famous and brilliant.
We did a bit of an experiment to produce the poem—that’s right fools, we’re doin experimental poetry—in which I was to listen along to Marijke preparing a recipe (a cherry cobbler) and write down what I heard. We initially thought I’d wear a blindfold, and pay close attention only to the sounds, but when it came time to cook, I left my sight alone. The resulting poem deals therefore not just with the sound of Marijke’s cooking process, but also with its appearance. This actually, I think, turned out to be better, because what we realized is that a lot of the steps kind of sound the same, or are nearly impossible to hear. Putting one tablespoon of baking powder into a bowl of flour is, at least to my ear, completely silent.
And now, to our knowledge, DPP is producing a podcast which will bring the live recordings together. Not only this, but also a pamphlet, in which some poems, writings, recipes, etc., will be printed! We’ll update you on that.
[Marijke:] And now for the recipe, which is both adaptable with different summer fruit and simple to pull off. It has the jubilance of a cherry pie, without the precision required to contain all the cherry juice inside a crust. Cherries really shine in this recipe and I was able to score some from my brother’s cherry tree to include. We hope wherever you are reading this, that you’re hanging in there and get the chance to bake this.
60 g sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
Zest from one lemon
1 tsp. kosher salt
240g all purpose flour
125g unsalted cold butter, diced
300ml cold heavy cream
1 kg pitted cherries (fresh or frozen)
juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract or paste
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
Finishing: 1 tsp. coarse sugar and 1 tbsp. melted butter
I like to make the topping and chill it while I pit the cherries. I used a mix of fresh cherries picked from my brother’s yard and frozen cherries for the 1kg needed; you don’t need to thaw frozen cherries before using and they’re a good shortcut. Any other berries or stone fruit like peaches and nectarines can be substituted as well, use whatever is available and seasonal.
The cobbler can be baked in a pie or round cake tin with a 9 inch diameter or a square 8 or 9 inch baking pan. Even a cast iron skillet can work, just make sure it is very clean.
Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
This is the perfect time to use a plastic bench scraper if you have one. A pastry blender, or simply two butter knives will also work.
Add your chunks of butter and use your chosen implement to cut the butter through the flour into small pea-sized pieces. Don’t be too thorough: it’s better to work fast and keep the mixture cold; if any chunks are too big they will be sorted later.
Once you are at the pea stage, make a well in the centre of the bowl and pour in your cream. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to drag the cream through the flour mix and stir a few times until it’s mostly combined.
Place a piece of parchment paper on the counter and turn the bowl onto the parchment,
scraping any bits stuck to the bottom. Use your bench scraper or hands to lightly knead everything together in a couple motions. There shouldn’t be any dry flour or cream visible.
Pat your dough into a rough square about one inch thick. Use your scraper or a butter knife to cut the dough into 4 (grid shape). Stack your four pieces on top of each other and lightly pat to a 1.5 inch tall square.
This will make your biscuits very flaky and layered (try it out with any scone or pie dough as well, it’s a genius technique). Wrap the dough and throw in the freezer if you have one, or fridge while you prepare your filling.
Put your pitted cherries (or chosen fruit) in a medium bowl. Add remaining filling ingredients and give it a good stir. The cornstarch is what thickens the filling; make sure it’s not in any clumps and coats the fruit evenly.
Let the filling sit for 5-10 minutes to macerate the fruit and let your biscuits firm up in the fridge. Pour cherry mix into your baking pan. When your dough feels firm, place it on your counter.
Now be creative; I like to cut the dough into circular biscuits but you could use any cookie cutters or a knife to make different shapes.
Work quickly so the dough stays cold, however if you need to you can pop the completed cobbler in the freezer for a couple minutes if the dough is too soft. The colder the dough is the flakier and taller the biscuits will rise.
You will likely have extra dough left; these make excellent snacks if you meld together any
leftover dough and cut into 2 inch square pieces and bake alongside your cobbler.
There can be a bit of fruit visible on the top once you’ve covered it with biscuits, the hot air exposure will help the mix thicken and reduce.
Brush the biscuits with melted butter and scatter with coarse sugar. Place the pan on the baking tray (to catch drips instead of them hitting the bottom of your oven) and throw your scrap biscuits on beside.
Place in the oven for 10 minutes, lower heat to 350F/175C and bake for 30-40 minutes more. Rescue your scrap biscuits after about 20 minutes total and eat while you wait for your cobbler.
Pull your cobbler out when the top is evenly brown and you can see the fruit bubbling merrily on the edges. Let cool for at least 20 minutes or the filling will be soupy.
The cobbler lasts well for two days, especially if reheated in the oven for a few minutes to crisp up the top again. I especially like this served with vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.
*Adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe, with significant adjustments.