Sometimes dessert is just messy and comical

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BEWARE THE BLOB!

I had to laugh when I took this out of the oven. I’m not sure if it was due to the humidity or what, but when I made cream biscuits this time, instead of staying all nice and biscuit-y shaped, they all just decided to merge and become… the BLOB!

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You can kind of see the divisions between the biscuits (there are technically 8 of them), but I still cracked myself up when I took it out. Not to mention the very red berry juice making its escape over the sides…

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Add to that the explosion of berry juice that occurred in my oven – thank heavens for precautionary foil; I only had one really (quite large) entrepreneurial drip escape its confines and end up on the oven floor – this is one of those desserts that definitely tastes better than it looks! Although if you’re going for comic value… well…

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Also not helped by some odd overcast light this morning when I was trying to photograph before running off to the office.. sorry for the slightly off photos. If I promise it’s delicious, will you believe me?! I wouldn’t virtually feed you subpar food, promise.

Regardless of what it looks like, this cobbler is a great excuse for using up the last of summer berries – no more white shoes for you! It’s after Labor Day! Not that I really ever follow that rule, or even own white dress shoes…

A few things from late-summer life lately:

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Anyway. You really don’t need an excuse to make cobbler, so what are you waiting for? Go create a blob of your very own! But… don’t say I didn’t warn you…. BEWARE THE BLOB!

Hehe.

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Summer Berry Cobbler with Meyer Lemon Cream Biscuits

Lightly sweet and (barely) naturally sweetened, and perfect for showcasing the last of summer’s berries. Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries play perfectly with meyer lemon, present both in the filling and in the cream biscuits. Whole grain and refined sugar free. Adapted from the rhubarb ginger mint cobbler I made awhile back, here. Yield: 1 9″ cobbler; serves… several. Or two. Your call!

For the filling:

  • 4 c strawberries, quartered (unless they’re really small, in which case halved is fine)*
  • ~1 c mixed blackberries & raspberries**
  • zest of 1 meyer lemon
  • juice of 1 meyer lemon
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c arrowroot starch

*Basically, you want as much fruit as you need to fill your pan of choice. This about does it for me in my 9″ pie plate; I need a larger dish though since mine totally overflowed this time… whoops

**I bake straight from frozen (usually I buy mine when on sale & freeze them for later); fresh would also be fine

For the cobbler topping:

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c whole grain spelt flour
  • zest of 2 meyer lemons
  • 2 tbsp meyer lemon juice
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar + a little extra for brushing the biscuit tops
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c heavy cream (I prefer Straus because… it’s the best!), divided + a little extra for brushing the biscuit tops

Preheat the oven to 375, and grab a 9″ pie dish (or an 8 by 8 pan would be fine too I’m sure; so would a cast iron skillet if you’d rather) Just make sure whatever you use is deep enough! Not that I speak from experience…. Stick some foil on the rack below the rack on which you’ll bake the cobbler, just in case of drips.

In a large bowl, toss together strawberries, raspberries & blackberries, maple syrup, arrowroot, lemon juice & zest, and vanilla. Let sit for at least 5 minutes — easiest to do this while you put together the cream biscuit for the cobbler topping.

For the cream biscuits: in a large bowl, stir together whole wheat and spelt flours, lemon zest, coconut sugar, baking powder and sea salt. Stir in the heavy cream and lemon juice until combined – the dough will be sticky & rather wet (but DELICIOUS). Spoon large dollops of dough onto the top of the cobbler – I used a large spoon and got about 8 biscuits; you can make them smaller if you like! Brush with a bit of extra cream and sprinkle with coconut sugar. Mine obviously all became one big blob, but whatever. Delicious.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the cobbler is beginning to go golden around the edges, and the fruit is bubbling (or the juices runneth over…). A thermometer (if you have one) is useful here – the internal temp of the centermost biscuit should be 200F. Let cool before serving – awesome either warm out of the oven, or room temp later – with ice cream either way, obviously. AND it’s even better for breakfast the next day; leftovers keep well, covered in the fridge.

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Swampy Pandowdy. Need I say more?!

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Can I just say that I’ve recently discovered swamp pie, and I will never be the same again.

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Sometimes, the messiest food is by far the best food, and the less-aesthetic desserts are actually the tastiest. And sometimes, they have ridiculous names and it just gets better and better!

Ugly and strange sounding, but delicious. I promise. Would I lead you wrong in the dessert department? I think not.

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Let’s talk verbiage for a minute…

Swamp.

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Best word ever. And also, hilarious (and slightly unappealing I suppose, if you’re normal… unlike me) connotations when we’re talking about food. Side note, I was Bride of Swamp Thing for Halloween one year, and I think it might be one of my more inspired costumes to date.

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Typically, it’s pies that are swamped (i.e. have cream poured into them so not only are you getting pie, but you’re also getting this delicious mash up of cream and custard and pie and all the goodness, all at once), but since I’d never made a pandowdy, I decided to swamp that instead.

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Swampy pandowdy.

What a great combination of words!!! Swampy pandowdy. Which sounds potentially unappealing but I promise it isn’t.

Pandowdies are basically pie’s less fussy cousin. Or maybe they could be considered pie’s artsy, bohemian cousin who comes to visit once a year, bakes, does art things and wears colorful, ridiculous jewelry and lots of scarves and… omg that’s me! I’ve apparently found my spirit food. Or food totem? As in, if I was a food, I’d be a pandowdy. Low maintenance, boho weirdo… that sounds about right. Actually, I’d probably be a swampy pandowdy because that’s even weirder and more awesome. But, y’all like me for my weirdness, right?! So it’s fine. I’m at peace with having my spirit food be a swampy pandowdy.

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Though the origin of the word is technically unknown, I’ve read the theory is that pandowdies apparently get their name from “dowdy-ing” its looks by mucking up the crust. I just enjoy playing with my food, so you’re not going to hear any complaints from this corner.

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AND THEN not only that, but you get to pour a bunch of cream in there, which is an experiment in and of itself if/when you realize you don’t actually own a funnel, and careful pouring is going to have to do.

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It’s fun! It’s delicious and makes great dessert and breakfast (especially breakfast). And there are great words involved…

Happy pandowdy-ing!

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Cherry, Peach and Raspberry Swampy Pandowdy

Refined sugar free, lightly sweet, whole grain, and perfect for the late summer stone fruit season! I’m all over the stone fruit lately… Pandowdies are like pies, only way less fussy and much more messy and fun. They’re kind of like pie’s artistic, bohemian cousin (that’ll be me, later in life… oh wait. It probably already is) – only a top crust, and you get to mess it up and play with your food! Besides that, I love love love cream, so what better excuse to eat some than to flood your pie? Swamp pies are a thing. Also, I love the name. Pandowdy crust lightly adapted from Food52, here and the swamp business is adapted also from Food52, here! I didn’t do much to the crust, the recipe was pretty much perfect as is. Yield: 1 9″ pandowdy, serves… several. 2 if you eat it for breakfast too ;)

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For the crust:

  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c cornmeal
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • zest of 1 meyer lemon
  • 9 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed into small pieces
  • 3-5 tbsp ice water

Add whole wheat flour, cornmeal, sea salt, and lemon zest to a large bowl and stir to combine. Add in butter, toss to coat, and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to cut in the butter until a coarse mixture forms and the butter chunks are the size of peas (I prefer to use my fingers for this since I a) like the feeling of having my hands in flour and b) have greater control over butter-chunk sizing). Add ice water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough just begins to hold together when pinched between two fingers. It’ll look a little crumbly, but that’s fine.

Toss the dough out onto a clean counter or wax paper (I prefer the counter method; less fuss), and use a bench scraper to gather the dough into a rough rectangle. Using the heel of your hand, smear the last fourth of dough away from you, against the counter. Repeat until you smear all the dough (see? playing with your food!), then gather the dough back into a rectangle and repeat, smearing it all away from you. The dough should be cohesive by this point, so gather it up into a disc, wrap in plastic, and stick it in the fridge for at eat an hour, or up to overnight.

For the filling:

  • 3 c cherries (mine were Bing cherries; I think Ranier would be awesome here too)
  • 2 c peaches, sliced
  • 1.5 c raspberries*
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot starch
  • 1 tbsp meyer lemon juice
  • scant 1/4 c maple syrup
  • egg white & 1 tbsp coconut sugar for glaze
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 c heavy cream

*I used some that had been frozen; if you do as well, bake them straight from frozen instead of letting them thaw beforehand

In a large bowl, combine the cherries, peaches and raspberries. Add vanilla, arrowroot, lemon juice, and maple, and toss to combine. Pour all this goodness into your pie plate or skillet of choice – 9″ pie plates are fine as long as they’re the deeper variety; a 10″ cast iron skillet would also work well.

Preheat the oven to 400. Once the dough has chilled, roll it out to be roughly circular (no need to be perfect here, like I said – pandowdies are pie’s unfussy cousin), and lift the dough onto the fruit. Tuck in the edges, leaving a rim of dough between the edge of the pie dish and the fruit – I crimped mine because I’m an overachiever and I also had extra dough, but no need to do that. Make a few slits for steam to vent, brush the top with egg white and dust with coconut sugar. Pop the whole beautiful thing into the oven for 40 minutes; best if you line the rack beneath with foil or a large baking sheet – the juices runneth over! In a liquid measuring cup with a spout, and let it sit at room temp.

Once you hit the 40 minute mark, take the pandowdy out, and use a sharp knife to break up the crust, thus ‘dowdy-ing’ its looks (now begins the really fun part). Carefully pour the cream into the new breaks in the crust, filling each – some of the cream will pool under the crust, and some will sneak out on top, which is fine. Just be careful not to drown the whole crust! Go slow, and fill each vent/break. Stick the pandowdy back in the oven, and bake for another 10 minutes, until the cream is just set and barely jiggles in the center. Let cool completely before serving; it will be gloriously juicy and delicious so might I suggest serving it in bowls? Ice cream is… optional, sort of, if you’re out of cream; otherwise, this can be served even swampier with extra cream poured over the top. You do you!

Store any leftovers (who are you) covered in the fridge, but make sure to save some for breakfast. You’ll thank me later!

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Camp Musings and Cream Biscuits

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I have returned from my mountain home away from home!

Not that I’m especially happy about this – camp is my favorite place, and reality is, um… less fun. I’m pining and going through wilderness withdrawals, that’s for sure.

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There is nothing that compares to 10 days off the grid with my camp family in the mountains – laughing till my stomach hurts, swimming in a lake so brisk it takes your breath away, listening to the wind sighing in the pines, and going to bed under a skyful of stars and a full moon, smelling like woodsmoke and campfire.

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It is such a joy to witness the camp experience of so many girls who come to love camp just as much as I do – I am beyond grateful to have Two Sentinels in my life, both the place and the people! Camp has truly shaped who I am, in more ways than I can count. I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite snaps from this year – doesn’t nearly do it justice, but it’s a start.

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The only thing missing up at camp is an abundance of summer fruit – so of course I pounced on the berries and stone fruits as soon as I got home.

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I’ve been eyeing peaches for weeks now, waiting for peak season, and I think we’re there!

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These are perfect; they really don’t need to be messed with, but I like to have my fruit be a little saucy when I’m serving shortcakes. These particular peaches are paired with a cream biscuit (because I’m obsessed, both with this form of biscuit and with Straus creamery heavy cream – I could literally drink the bottle. Someone take it away!) and with either ice cream or more of that amazing heavy cream… no need to even whip it, just pour it straight over your shortcakes and imbibe.

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It’s hot out and I just ran my oven and I don’t even care. Summer is for shortcakes and if that means I have to swelter a bit, so be it! I’ve been outside in nature’s A/C for the last week and a half anyway so who cares. The only thing missing is the lake! That would be so good right now.

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So! Not only do peaches make your kitchen smell like summer, but this dessert comes together in about five seconds flat. And the oven only has to be on for 15 minutes! No excuses – you’ll thank me later. Happy summer!

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Whole Grain Shortcakes with Peaches and Cream

Lightly sweet, perfectly fluffy biscuits with a craggy crust. Summer peaches don’t need much adornment – these were in varying degrees of ripeness so I threw them in a pot for a minute to somewhat homogenize – tossed with vanilla and served with cream and/or ice cream: the ultimate summer pairing. Refined sugar free and whole wheat. Cream biscuits lightly adapted from Alice Medrich of Food52, here. Yield: 6 shortcakes.

For the cream biscuits:

  • 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c whole spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 c + 6 tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar, to sprinkle

Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with three pieces of parchment, to prevent excess browning. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together whole wheat, spelt, baking powder, and sea salt. Create a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using a rubber spatula, push the flour into the cream (not stirring), until everything is moistened. This really only takes a few seconds! The dough will look shaggy and porous. Drop large spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, and sprinkle generously with coconut sugar. Bake for 14-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet front to back once halfway through, until golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely (or eat warm).

For the peaches:

  • 3-4 large peaches, cubed
  • vanilla to taste
  • zest & juice of one meyer lemon

Toss everything into a small pot, and heat over medium until the peaches start to release their juices and make your kitchen smell amazing. Remove from heat and let cool before serving.

To serve: you do you! Cream, ice cream – whatever floats your boat. I like a ton of peaches and a drizzle of cream (or a large blob of ice cream)… or maybe both. Store any leftovers (really?! who are you??) on the counter covered in foil. Or just eat immediately, which would be my recommendation. Although they are excellent for breakfast, so maybe save one or two ;)

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Messy, delicious pre-camp cobbler

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It’s that time of year again! I leave tomorrow for my home away from home: camp, under the tall pines and in the crisp Sierra air.

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I have this strange tradition of always making some kind of fruit dessert before I leave – something about the combination of mindful baking that takes my mind off the trillion things I have to do before I leave, plus the freshness of the fruit that I miss while I’m at camp. I have no idea when this started, but for the last 5 years or so, it seems that I always make something the day before I leave. So! Cobbler. Here ya go. At least it was a change from the shortcakes – I looked back into the archives & apparently I made shortcakes the last three years. I suppose there’s something to be said for consistency?!

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And after I finish the trillion things it feels like I need to do today…. CAMP! YAY! It really is my home away from home – an awesome family who I only see about twice a year, beautiful surroundings and a soul-soothing break from technology.

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But in the meantime, before I go… I’ll eat cobbler. One of the more homely desserts out there – a blobby, delicious mess – but sometimes, dessert needs to be less than perfectly aesthetic and perfectly delicious.

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Cobbler is obviously dessert alongside a generous scoop of ice cream, but no doubt also will be breakfast, because everyone knows that cobbler is one of the most perfect breakfast foods (right up there with pie) – especially since this one is whole grain and full of fruit! That’s breakfast, right there.

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I really wanted to use leaves from my ginger mint plant – it’s actually a thing! It’s mint, that tastes gingery! Literally amazing. But sadly, a resident caterpillar thought it was amazing too, and ate all the leaves yesterday, RUDE. Which meant I had to punt and use regular spearmint, but it’s still delicious, I promise. And the caterpillar has been kicked out of his comfy digs on my plant, so hopefully the ginger mint (whose name is Watson, by the way) will make a speedy recovery.

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In other news… let’s see. More progress on the SF series, and a few different days of fun on the Bay!

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Happy July! See ya on the flip side of my wilderness sojourn.

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Rhubarb Raspberry Ginger-Mint Cobbler

Heavy on the fruit, lightly sweet with a kick from the ginger and a hint of mint  – perfect for summer since (unlike pie dough) there’s no fussing with cold butter or unwieldy dough in a hot kitchen. Cobbler is one of the easiest summer desserts – start to finish, it really only takes about an hour. This one is supremely easy, whole grain, and refined sugar free. Yield: 1 9″ pie dish; serves…. 2? Hahahaha I kid. Sort of. You could feed anywhere from 2-6 people, but I argue for two with breakfast leftovers ;) A Wait are those Cookies original; topping lightly adapted from the Kitchn, here.

For the fruit filling:

  • 4-5 c rhubarb, chopped*
  • 1 c raspberries*
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c arrowroot starch
  • juice of 1 meyer lemon (or regular)
  • 1/4 c candied ginger, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh spearmint
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cobbler topping:

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c whole grain spelt flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar + a little extra for brushing the biscuit tops
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c heavy cream (I prefer Straus because… it’s the best!), divided + a little extra for brushing the biscuit tops

*I bake straight from frozen; fresh would also be fine. I also don’t measure fruit for this – I just use enough so that my pie plate is heapingly full

Preheat the oven to 375, and grab a 9″ pie dish (or an 8 by 8 pan would be fine too I’m sure; so would a cast iron skillet if you’d rather). Stick some foil on the rack below the rack you’ll bake the cobbler on, just in case of drips.

In a large bowl, toss together rhubarb, raspberries, maple syrup, arrowroot, lemon juice, candied ginger, chopped mint, and vanilla. Let sit for at least 5 minutes — easiest to do this while you put together the cream biscuit for the cobbler topping.

For the cream biscuits: in a large bowl, stir together whole wheat and spelt flours, coconut sugar, baking powder and sea salt. Stir in the heavy cream, until the combined – the dough will be sticky & rather wet (but DELICIOUS). Spoon large dollops of dough onto the top of the cobbler – I used a large spoon and got about 5 biscuits; you can make them smaller if you like! Brush with a bit of extra cream and sprinkle with coconut sugar.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the cobbler is beginning to go golden around the edges, and the fruit is bubbling. A thermometer (if you have one) is useful here – the internal temp of the centermost biscuit should be 200F. Let cool before serving – awesome either warm out of the oven, or room temp later – with ice cream either way, obviously. AND it’s even better for breakfast the next day; leftovers keep well, covered in the fridge.

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