A Good Appetite: The Best Way to Let Summer Fruit Shine

What do you picture when you hear the word cobbler?

Is it a bubbling pan of baked peaches topped with a flaky lattice pie crust? Or syrupy berries covered in fluffy biscuits? Or a slice of butter cake strewn with jammy fruit?

(If your first thoughts have to do with cocktails or shoemakers, you’ve obviously not eaten enough cobblers in your life. Read on.)

Regardless of the version being served, the common feature of this pastry is plenty of fruit — preferably fresh, dead ripe and picked at the height of the season. It’s this fruit that’s critical to a cobbler’s excellence. No matter whether it’s baked with pie dough, biscuits or cake batter, the fruit needs to release enough juice to boil up, forming all those wonderfully condensed, sticky pockets.

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Sweeten the fruit to taste: Tart berries and sour cherries may need more sugar than peaches and pears.

Credit
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

For biscuit cobblers like this one, the simmering juices have another advantage: They keep the biscuit bottoms supple and soft, basically steaming them tender. Then the tops, exposed to the dry heat of the oven, turn golden and crisp. It’s this juxtaposition of the soft, syrup-soaked caky layer crowned with a very crisp surface that makes biscuit cobblers my favorite of the three.

Here, I’ve kept the topping and filling as simple as possible so that the fruit shines.

You can use almost any fruit as long as it’s juicy. Summer fruit works best: berries, peaches, plums, cherries, nectarines, apricots, pears or a combination. Save your apples, figs and bananas for other projects. You’ll want a little more than a cup of cut fruit per person.

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