As I've mentioned here before, I'm not much of a baker. Slowly, though, I'm coming around. Maybe it's just my stage in life, but I am growing to appreciate the structure a recipe offers. That said, you will still find me hunched over the garbage every now and then used a knife to scrape some sadly burned cake out of a pan.
So when I decided to throw together a dessert for my Fourth of July barbecue, I went with something I know. I started with an all-American biscuit. It's probably the one baked good that I feel completely comfortable making. It's a recipe adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook with the red and white checkered cover. A little extra sugar and lemon zest transformed this flaky biscuit into something that pairs better with berries than sausage gravy. I made the biscuit dough the day before and popped them in the freezer for the night.
The next morning I made a quick trip to the farmer's market where I passed right by fresh sugar snap peas, homemade tamales and my favorite mushroom man. I was focused on fruit. Something that would pair nicely with those buttery biscuits in my freezer. I was sold when my eyes landed on a half-flat of plump, deep purple marionberries. This Oregon jewel is similar to a blackberry in size and shape with a flavor that bleeds more sweet than tart.
At home, I spent about five minutes pulling this cobbler together. The berries went into a pan with sugar, flour and lemon zest. Then the frozen biscuits were popped on to top, and the entire thing took a quick trip in a hot oven. After mini burgers, hot dogs and too much potato salad, we ate marionberry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. Lots of neighbors ended their evenings with sparklers in hand but not our crew. With a slew of young kids and babies more interested in bubbles than fireworks, a little berry cobbler didn't disappoint as the cap to our celebration.
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for working with dough
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup butter, cold, cubed
2/3 cup milk
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Juice of one lemon
3 to 4 tablespoons powdered sugar
8 cups rinsed and drained marionberries*
3/4 cup sugar
1 lemon, zested
2 tablespoons flour
To make biscuits, in a food processor combine flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, lemon zest and cubed butter. Mix, pulsing until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. If you do not have a food processor, use a pastry blender to combine ingredients. Dump flour and butter mixture into a mixing bowl and add milk. Combine with a spoon. Turn out dough onto well-floured surface. Work dough into a ball and use a rolling pin to roll dough out to about 1/2 of inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut rounds, making sure not to twist cutter. Dip cut biscuit tops in melted butter and transfer to baking sheet. Place biscuits in freezer for at least five minutes (I place the entire baking sheet in there). Then either proceed with rest of recipe or transfer to airtight container once biscuit dough is frozen until ready for baking.
Prep berries by gently rinsing and draining. Then gently combine with sugar, lemon zest and flour, careful not to bruise or crush the fruit (using your hands is best). Pour the berry mixture into a 9x13-inch pan. Top with biscuit dough and bake in a 450 oven for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.
While cobbler bakes, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice. After the cobbler is baked, use a pastry brush to lightly coat the tops of biscuits with the lemon-sugar glaze. Serve warm or room temperature topped with vanilla ice cream.
* Substitute blackberries if you cannot find marionberries.
Note: Because the sugar content of fruit can vary, adjust the amount of sugar as needed based on the ripeness of fruit used.