Apropos of nothing except that I saw a young woman make and construct the most elaborately beautiful Napoleon on one of the Baking Shows last night, with perfect planks of just-made puff sandwiched with poufs of cream and the most enormous shining blackberries---I’m thinking of blackberry cobbler.
Blackberries are a Summer thought, of course, strange on these iron-hard cold days, except for a spoonful from that preciously-hoarded pint of blackberry preserves from last year’s crop grown by friends Lil and Ben, and brought to us on their travels. The very thought conjures steamy mornings, both outside braving the brambles for those elusive globules of colour and sweet, and inside over the canning kettles as the blub and simmer turn the fruit into such a lively, lovely mass of remembered moments: fresh-opened biscuits with butter melting within, or a piece of slumpy-toast with a smear of purple sweetness cuddled within the warmth.
A church supper with Aunt Bessie setting down her perfectly-latticed 9x13 of Blackberry Cobbler was a moment in time that I’d love to recapture.
And Auntie Bond made the most wonderfully-memorable cobblers with “Sankers” in them---a crust laid into the bottom of the big blue-and-white roaster-pan, a great sluice of sugared berries and juice poured in, then a smaller top crust laid on atop the filling. As the cobbler baked, the top crust cooked for a while, then was pushed down into the berries, with more of the filling poured in, then another
larger crust sealed on top and baked til golden.
When you cut down through those differing layers with that big old spoon, you got layers of crisp top and firm bottom crust, with a great cascade of the filling and melty middle crust, which had simmered into the most delightful soft bits like the fruitiest dumplings swirled in.
And I never fail to think of a memorable dish that we stumbled upon on the way to
This time the choices were apple and pecan, neither of which appealed at the moment. We were about to pass on dessert, when the hostess (and owner) tilted her head slightly toward the kitchen-cutout and said, "Let me see if that Blackberry Cobbler has come out of the oven yet." (I remember her face and demeanor as much like the lady who recommended the Dutch Apple Pie to Starman in the diner---his first taste of Earthfood, and I loved the waitress' pleasure at the total enjoyment on his cream-smeared face).
Our server hostess returned with a shallow bowl the size of a dinnerplate, two long iced-tea spoons---the better to share it with, My Dear---and a quite visible trail of fragrant steam. She set it down with a little flourish, and stepped back a step as we admired. In the bowl was a BIG river of beautiful purple, little rivulets of lavender and mauve spreading as it melted the two huge scoops of vanilla atop the sugar-crusted lattice.
It was too hot to eat at first, but we were determined to dig in before it melted the ice cream into liquid, so we did. Spoon after spoon, it was the essence and life and vitality and round dark sweetness of every blackberry that ever swelled on the bramble. It was the most delicious cobbler I've ever tasted, big ole whole blackberries with their shapes altered just enough to let free all those pent-up Summer juices. I hope we can find that little out-of-the-way place again.
Blackberry Cobbler, in all its forms and fashions---whether crusted, latticed, Sankered, with biscuits or crescent rolls baked on, or with that CuppaCuppaCuppa thing stirred up in the bottom, to magically rise into a cloud of crisp doughy sweetness like floating teacakes---it conjures other times, other climes, in the way no other fruit pie can.