{Baking} CORNMEAL DROP BISCUIT PEACH COBBLER … for times when the mason doesn’t show up!

“There’s your karma ripe as peaches.”
Jack Kerouac

Even while the hammers rain blows down, and the kitchen is in shambles, I have a list of things to do. A cobbler was on my must bake list before the stone fruit season bid us adieu. It’s been bookmarked ever since I saw it on Leites Culinaria when I stopped by attempting to try and bake a recipe off the site for a photography competition. This cobbler was high on my list, until Monsieur Lebovitz’s Absolute Best Brownies knocked me off my perch!

Not one to stay knocked off for so long, I was soon winging my way back to my must bake list. We’ve had some minor issues while the kitchen renovation goes on … stuff like minor flooding {never touch the plumbing if it works fine!!}, and then a day with minimal work done when the mason took a rainy day off! For me, minimal work being done was a golden opportunity to get down to baking. If the mason doesn’t show up, it’s cobbler time!

Cobbler is a traditional dish in both the United States and the United Kingdom, although the meaning of the term is quite different in each country. In the United States, it is usually a dessert consisting of a fruit filling poured into a large baking dish and covered with a rolled pastry dough, then baked in an oven. In the United Kingdom it is usually a savoury meat dish, typically a lamb casserole, which is covered with a savoury scone-like topping, each scone (or biscuit) forming a separable cobbler. Fruit-based versions are also increasingly popular in the United Kingdom, although they still retain the separate cobbler (or biscuit) topping of the meat version, and savoury or meat versions are not unknown in the United States. The Crisp or Crumble differ from the cobbler in that the cobbler’s top layer is more biscuit-like. Grunts, Pandowdy, and Slumps are a New England variety of cobbler, typically cooked on the stove-top or cooker in an iron skillet or pan with the dough on top in the shape of dumplings; they reportedly take their name from the grunting sound they make while cooking.
Jeanne @ Cooksister had an Apple Pecan Cobbler posted just recently, and I knew the time had come. for me to try the peach cobbler. This was one fruit dessert I hadn’t tried so far.  A fridge full of peaches, a few plums too, soon I had a pie dish full of fruit. I chopped the peaches instead of slicing them, all done in haste, but cobbler I made! It’s not a beautiful thing to photograph, but I took a shot. I love the rustic fruity look the cobbled top offered, somewhat like a mosaic, with colourful fruit and juices peeping through. I threw in some pistachio nuts in the biscuit topping, just to add to the taste and, maybe colour!
This particular recipe is from the cookbook The Lee Brothers Simple Fresh Southern by Mat & Ted Lee. Very ‘Simple, Fresh and Southern’ as the book title goes, it is a versatile one too. I added a few plums for colour with the peaches. I think like in most cobblers, apples, blackberries, blueberries etc  all work wonderfully under the drop biscuit crust. The fruit juices get cooked and combine with the sugar to form a thick syrup which rises above the biscuit edges to give a cobbled stone like appearance. The cobbler was rustic beautiful and moorish, and full of bursting good flavours.

I’m glad I made the cobbler. It was delicious and ever so fruity. Mr PAB said, ‘What is this ‘thing’ Deeba? It’s delicious!‘ The daughter said, “I love this mushy, ugly thing. Can I have some more?”, and the son loved it too, especially the biscuit crust {anything with butter is!}. I served it chilled because it’s still summer here and we’d rather have cold dessert than warm. Also, chilling it meant that all the fruit juices thickened up nicely and the flavours matured. Of course, it wasn’t very picture-worthy, but heck… My first cobbler was downright delicious, and is off to the Food Photo Competition @ Leite’s Culinaria!

Cornmeal Drop-Biscuit Peach Cobbler
Recipe from Matt and Ted Lees book, The Lee Brothers Simple Fresh Southern

Adapted minimally from recipe @ Leites Culinaria
For the peach filling
1 kg ripe peaches, stoned , chopped {or sliced}
3-4 plums, stoned, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar {or more, depending on your peaches and your sweet tooth}
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the biscuit dough
3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pistachio nuts, shelled
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon iodized salt or fine sea salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the baking dish
1/2 cup cold buttermilk {I used low fat}
Method:
Preheat oven to 220C. Butter a 9″ pie dish
Place all filling ingredients in a large bowl, and toss to mix well. Allow to stand for ten minutes while you make the drop-biscuit dough
Drop-biscuit dough
Place the flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, pistachio nuts and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for a few seconds till the nuts are chopped fine, and the mixture blended. Add the butter and give 2-3 short pulses till the butter cuts through, and the mixture becomes like coarse meal with pea size bits of butter. Add the buttermilk and stir with a rubber spatula just until a tacky, wet dough comes together, which should take no more than a few seconds.
Gently plop spoonfuls of the biscuit dough on top of the peach filling or, if the dough is too sticky to plop, simply spread it unevenly. The dough should be patchy and should not cover the entire surface of the filling.
Bake until the cobbler’s syrup is bubbly and the biscuit top is alluringly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
Scoop the warm cobbler into small dessert bowls, ramekins, even cocktail glasses. Serve warm.

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{Daring Bakers} CHOCOLATE & VANILLA SWISS SWIRL ICE CREAM CAKE

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare;
It is because we do not dare that they are difficult.”
Seneca
The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.
This was a challenge I wasn’t going to do because it had way too many steps for me as my kitchen was going to be under ‘attack’ beginning the month of July. Then again, fate had some other plans for me, and procrastination was out. The night before, i.e. on the 30th of June, I put some peach ice cream in to set because I had bought a load of juicy peaches. When I read the challenge the next morning, I was torn between doing it because I had ice cream ready, and not doing it because there was so much more to the challenge.
Tossing coins – should I, shouldn’t I? Then the daring baker in me won and I got tempted into trying the Swiss rolls even though I knew I was pushing my luck. I thought I would serve a decontructed dessert and took a stab at attempting the challenge. One thing that initially deterred me was the amount of cream in the recipes, but I knew I would find a lighter way out, and I did, pairing low fat cream with stone fruit. I have used cherries, peaches and plums in just about every dessert I could, including the chocolate pavs in the last months challenge. I’m lovin’ it!
I absolutely adore doing Swiss rolls. I find them ever so easy to make … Mango Ice-Cream Swiss Roll, Strawberry Chocolate Swiss Roll, Star Anise Swiss Roll, Red Velvet Swiss Cake are just a few… you can tell I love them! They bake in the express lane, and are the most charming things when you slice them up! I followed Sunita’s recipe and it was great. Once filled with a low fat cream and stone fruit filling, cutting back on many calories, I loved the rustic look they had. BLISS … I love being a Daring Baker! Being one just makes me want to push my limits, inspiring me to achieve beyond the odds. The pairing of the vanilla and chocolate rolls with the low fat and stone fruit filling was outstanding!
The peach ice cream was a big batch! I knew it would be good enough for the whole filling, with still some left over. Insanely enough, I hypnotized myself into making a small batch of chocolate ice cream too just because I needed egg whites to try making macarons! The recipe is one I made on the go, based on the method for a custard or pastry cream, and that seemingly was the most luxurious part of the dessert. The kids love the deep, dark chocolate flavours it offered, right in the heart of the cake!
The whole process was a challenge given that we were in the peak pf summer in North India at 40C + temperatures, but it all came together well and was a joy to make. It was tad bit involved though, and we enjoyed each part more individually as compared to altogether! A lot of flavour and a lot of colour … and a lot of work! Yet, the experience was wonderful and gave me many ideas for similar desserts, maybe not frozen!
Do stop by here and check out the BOMBES that the other Daring Bakers have rolled out!

Thank you Sunita for this exciting challenge. It was very engaging and a bombe to make! I was over the moon when I demolded the cake and it came out so easily! Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!!

Chocolate & Vanilla Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake with Stone Fruit
Recipe source- Inspired by the Swiss swirl ice cream cake from the Taste of Home website
Peach Low Fat Ice Cream
{My recipe. This makes double the amount you need for the ice-cream cake}
1 kg peaches, peeled, stoned and pureed
1/2 – 3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup hung yogurt
400ml low fat cream
1 tbsp vodka {optional}
1 tsp almond extract

Method:

Whisk all the ingredients together with an immersion blender or in a food processor until well mixed. {Check and adjust the sweetness}
Freeze the mixture in a wide dish or plastic container. {The larger the surface area, quicker the freezing – since we have to pulse this mixture a couple of times}…or follow the instructions of your ice cream maker.
Keep checking on the mixture every 30 minutes or so and use the stick blender to break the icicles, 4, maybe 5 times. (I used a sturdy whisk).
Chocolate Ice Cream
{My recipe}
100ml low fat cream
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean scraped
4 tbsp cocoa powder
50gms dark chocolate, broken
Put the cream, 1/2 cup milk, sugar, cocoa and scraped vanilla bean on simmer. Heat till small bubbles begin to rise on the sides.
Pour this over the yolks in a bowl, off the heat, whisking continuously.
Pour the yolk mixture back into the pan, whisk in the remaining milk, and cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of the spoon. Take off heat, strain into a heatproof bowl, add the dark chocolate and mix till it melts.

Cool over an ice bath, and then freeze

Swiss Roll 1
Ingredients
3 medium sized eggs
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
3 tbsp plain flour + 2.5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
1 tbsp of boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans
Swiss Roll 2
3 medium sized eggs
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
5 1/2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans
Method

Preheat the oven at 200C. Brush the baking pans {11 inches by 9 inches} with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.
In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.
Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water. Spread the batter out evenly into the prepared pan, guiding it gently into the corners of the pans.
Bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the centre is springy to the touch.
Meanwhile, spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.
Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.
Repeat the same method for the 2nd Swiss roll.

Filling
200ml low fat cream, chilled
3-4tbsps granulated sugar powdered with 1/2 a vanilla bean
5 medium peaches, peeled and chopped fine
1/2 cup sweet cherries, pitted and chopped fine
Juice of 1/2 lime
Method:

Whisk the chilled cream and vanilla sugar with a balloon whisk. Fold in the chopped fruit quickly and gently, so the cream doesn’t lose volume.
Divide it into 2, and use as filling between the completely cooled cakes
Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges {a border of ½ an inch should be fine}.
Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down. {I froze them for easy slicing as it was extremely hot here, about 42C}

Assembly
Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices, approximately 2 cms each.
Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.

Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm {at least 30 minutes}.
Soften 1/3 of the peach ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm {at least 1 hour}.
Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the peach ice cream. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze till firm, at least an hour.
Soften another 1/3 of the peach ice cream and cover the chocolate ice cream, making this the last layer. {Some peach ice cream will be left over}. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze till firm, for at least 4-5 hours till completely set.

To Serve

Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.
Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp knife, dipped in hot water.

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{Baking} Stone Fruit Almond Crumble … baking in the midst of rubble, and LOVING it!!

“Mind like a sieve these days and the attention span of a flea!!”  
Jeanne Horak @ Cooksister

I love the quote above. Words from Jeanne @ CookSister in emails being exchanged a couple of days ago, much of it nonsensical light banter. It coined the way I felt, and I was absolutely taken in by the rhythm of the words! My foodie world has been thrown into disarray and I often feel at odds. It’s a world of rubble, heat and dust, the odd shower thrown in, which adds to humidity. There is SO MUCH on the mind, and the additional want to ‘blog & tweet‘ doesn’t help…

The kitchen is under the hammer, literally, being broken down with hammers and chisels for a much needed face lift. It’s like a scene out of a war zone and fine dust settles like a shroud  everywhere, eerily concealing everything underneath. It was a revelation to hear from Ken that a lot of old places in New York still have concrete kitchens like ours! Made me feel better instantly, though getting any work done in India is a whole new ball game. The workers each have a mind of their own, are mostly uneducated but technically superior at what they do, AND enjoy endless chai breaks!
In the midst of the rubble and ‘war like’ home zone, stone fruits still tempt me into buying them when I go intending to pick up basic food supplies to tide over these busy days. Just before work began, a week ago, I had bought a box of cherries and some dark red plums optimistically thinking of making this rice pudding I saw at Tartlette! Unrealistic me; must have been dreaming …
Didn’t get much further than roasting the fruit, and then ran out of time and quickly bundled it off into the fridge. There was a kitchen to be emptied, fridges to be moved etc, and I knew that once cooked, the fruit would keep safe for a bit, and importantly, not torment me. They kept beautifully, and when I saw the Double Cherry Almond Crumble on TasteSpotting, I knew instantly that was where my fruit would go. My love for stone fruit in desserts had found a plan …
It’s a delicious take on the crumble. I loved the topping which incorporated almonds and added loads to the flavour. I couldn’t locate my almond essence in the mess, but am sure it would have added to the ooomph! The crumble was fabulous and a real treat for the family, given that the boy looks longingly at the incomplete work, ruing the fact that dessert days have gone! He was thrilled to see the little ramekins coming their way! I served them with a teeny dollop of unsweetened cream. Nothing like a stone fruit laden crumble…NOTHING!!

Stone Fruit Almond Crumble
Adapted minimally from Good Food, Good Wine, and a Bad Girl
Makes 8 individual servings, or 1 large
Filling:
2 cups pitted sweet cherries
4-5 dark red plums {stoned and chopped}
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 vanilla bean
4-5 peaches, stoned and chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp cornstarch
Crumble:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled
1 tbsp milk

Method:
For the filling:

Prepare the cherries and plums:
Adapted from Tartlette
Preheat the oven to 200C.
With the tip of a knife, slice the half vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a small dish or ramekin. Add the sugar and mix with your fingertips until the vanilla bean seeds are well distributed.
Place the cherries and plums in a baking dish and sprinkle the vanilla sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until juicy. Let cool.

For the Crumble:
Preheat oven to 180C.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cherries plum compote, peaches, lime juice, sugar and cornstarch. Stir until sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine flour,almonds and sugar and whiz in brief spells until the almonds are ground. Add the butter and process briefly until loose and crumbly. Add milk and stir until the dough just comes together
Pour the fruit mixture into individual ramekins {or an 8×8 baking dish}. Pinch off small pieces of dough, and place on fruit mixture to more-or-less cover the fruit.
Bake the crumble in preheated oven for 20-25minutes {40-45 minutes for 1 large serving}, or until filling is bubbly and topping is crisp and golden.

To quote the ‘Bad Girl‘ on the her recipe… Depending on your mood, the crumble can be served warm or at room temperature. If you’re in a particularly indulgent mood, serve warm crumble a-la-mode with a scoop of good-quality vanilla ice cream. It was wonderful with a dollop of unsweetened low fat cream too!
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