Today’s post is by our resident farm foodie – Debra Dubief
Years ago I found a cobbler recipe that infinitely surpassed all that had come before. A simple combination of ingredients you’re likely to have on hand in the summer – with just the right balance of crust, fruit and juicy-ness. I love this cobbler for a lot of reasons. The crust is incredibly forgiving—even when made in a hurry with a heavy hand it remains tender enough. The filling ingredients seem to work for any summer fruit and happily accept whatever combination I dream up.
During the summer after The Herbfarm Cookbook came out (yes, I have been making this recipe for that long!), I became a little obsessed with adding different combinations of fresh herbs and spices to the fruit filling, the crust or both. Basil of all kinds or tarragon were great with dark berries or peaches. Lemon verbena was a great addition to just about any summer fruit filling and subtle enough to be paired with some lavender in the crust. The eventual winner was a blend of nectarines, blackberries and Thai basil.
For a good many years this tried-and-true* recipe was able to dodge my inevitable tinkering. But a recent dessert at our favorite neighborhood restaurant inspired me to try something new.
So this time around I left the basil out of the filling and used fresh thyme in the topping instead. Those woodsy herbal flavors were surprisingly good with the bright summer fruits and now we can’t decide which version we like best. Even though I was pretty sure it would be overkill, I had to try using both the Thai basil in the filling and the thyme in the crust. Even though it was lick-your-bowl delicious, I have to admit that the herbal notes each competed for attention instead of joining together in harmony. So from now on I’ll be sticking with one or the other—and leave the choice up to whatever sounds good in the moment. If you like the sweet, spiciness of Thai basil, go for that filling. But if you like a little more savory, earthy note to your dessert, opt for the thyme crust. Whatever you decide, you really can’t go wrong.
Nectarine Berry Cobbler with Fresh Thyme
The delicious fresh thyme crust in this recipe is extremely forgiving and a snap to make. Try it paired here with nectarines and blackberries – or other combinations of fruit for an equally delicious summer treat.
3 medium nectarines, thinly sliced
1 pint blackberries (or raspberries or blueberries) (approx. 2 cups)
1 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 T fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
4 T cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1/4 cup milk
Vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, for serving
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the nectarines, blackberries, and lemon juice in a bowl. Mix the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the flour and toss with the fruit.
In a medium bowl, mix the remaining 1 cup of flour with the baking powder and salt. Mix in fresh thyme leaves. Cut in the butter until the pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in the milk. Gather the dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough evenly into an 8-inch square – about 1/4 inch thick.
Pour the fruit and its juices into an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Lay the dough on top of the fruit. Place a sheet of foil in the bottom of the oven to catch any drips. Bake cobbler for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300 degrees F and bake for about 5 minutes longer – or until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling around the sides.
Serve warm with ice cream or frozen yogurt.
*My tried-and-true recipe: Add 2 tablespoons Thai basil to the filling – and omit thyme from the crust.