Sticky Summer Cobbler

The smell of wild British blackberries in August is my favorite.  I love how after picking them their sweet dark scent lingers on my fingers and in the palms of my blue-black stained hands.  No wonder the perfumers at Jo Malone have tried to capture this scent.  It’s the sweetest, most luscious fragrance of high summer.

Which is why I feel lucky to have a garden full of rampant bramble bushes.



Today was the first day of the season that I took Helena out to pick blackberries.  It’s still early so most of them have yet to reach their peak, but I couldn’t wait.  I had to gather those that were ready.  Their perfume, especially in the sunshine, was too strong to be ignored.  All I could think of when gathering the fruit was Seamus Heaney’s poem, “Blackberry Picking.”

Greedy Guts Helena ate a third of our berries before we got back inside.  So I decided to use some of the raspberries her grandparents picked at Peterley Manor last weekend in my cobbler as well.

Last year, I posted a blackberry cobbler recipe that was assembled like a lasagne by layering pastry cut outs between layers of fruit.  The recipe below is not like that.  Instead it’s made with a batter and I love how soft and sticky it is.  My husband said it reminded him of an old English pudding.  I hope you like it.


2 cups blackberries

1 cup raspberries

zest of half a lemon

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

approximately half a stick of butter

3/4 cups flour

1/4 cup cormnmeal

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup + 4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup plain yogurt


Preheat the oven to Gas 4/350ºF/180ºC.

Rinse and drain your berries.

raspberries up close raspberries sieve of brambles

Put the butter in your baking dish.


Melt the butter for a few minutes in the oven as you prepare the fruit mixture.

Tip your berries into a medium mixing bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the zest of half a lemon, and 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla.  Gently mash the fruit but be careful not to turn it into pulp.  All you want to do is release some of the juices.  Once this is done, set the bowl aside.

mashed berries


In another bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal (this gives the cobbler its sticky chewiness), salt, baking powder, 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, milk, and yogurt.  Add the melted butter and stir until combined.

Pour the batter into your baking dish.  Then spoon your fruit mixture on top of it.


2014-08-04 18.07.14

Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with your favorite creamy topping.  Mine for this is bourbon vanilla ice cream.



Blue Horizon Pie

You know those days that are so hot and humid walking down the street feels more like wading in lukewarm buttermilk?  That was Friday in London.  Every living creature stood still waiting for a breeze.  Even the flowers.  It was like summer in the American South.  Everything limp and languid and smelling stronger than usual.  That night, the moon hung like a giant peach glowing in the sky.  A giant Georgia peach.  The Summer Solstice was upon us.

The next day, I arose with tender thoughts of home and a yen to bake a Blue Horizon pie.  It’s basically a lemon chess pie but I call it Blue Horizon as it reminds me of the song by Sidney Bechet.  Each note hanging as long as it can just like each flavor does in every bite.  Sticky and salty and lemony sweet.

Photo on 2013-06-23 at 21.10


1/2 pâte brisée recipe

1 cup granulated or caster sugar

1 cup demerara or turbinado sugar (for crunch)

1/4 cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/4 whole milk or evaporated milk for extra richness

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

4 large eggs lightly beaten

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC/Gas 7.

Roll out pâte brisée and fit to a 9″ tart pan.  Prick the bottom of the pie dough with a fork.  Line the pastry with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights or beans.  Put the tart pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove the weights and whatever material you used to line the pastry.  Return to the oven and bake for 3 more minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients saving the eggs for last.  Incorporate those by gently stirring them into the mixture.

Place the tart pan on the cookie sheet.  Now pour the mixture into the pie shell.  Turn the oven temperature down to 350ºF/180ºC/Gas 4.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely on a wire rack and enjoy.  I always serve this with a dollop of Greek yogurt for extra coolness and tang.

*I must add that my gorgeous friend, Miss Danielle Bell, over at de Porres is Queen of Most American Pies.  And that a classic chess pie is one of her specialities.  Please check it out.