Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mixed Berry Pandowdy

Berry season is about at an end with the last of the fresh blueberries disappearing quickly and the rest of the berries are but a memory. A Southern classic with berries and, really, any fruit, is a cobbler. But to celebrate these small fruits, I wanted something a little out of the ordinary.

It turns out that cobblers are but a small subset of desserts that all have two-layer (fruit and cake) construction. Whether it's a cobbler, grunt, slump, brown betty, buckle, sonker, crisp, or crumble. The major distinctions that separate these varieties is the preparation of each layer. The fruit can be sauteed or baked. The cake layer can be crumbly, biscuit-like or cakey. Flip the layers and, technically, it's a pie. From all of these, I went for a recipe for a mixed berry pandowdy, where the berries are left whole and covered with a cake batter and baked until done.

Mixed Berry Pandowdy
Adapted from Elle's New England Kitchen, makes 6-8 servings

5-6 cups mixed berries
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract


Berry Mixture

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a glass 2 quart baking dish (about 12"x7"). Place berries in baking dish and drizzle with maple syrup. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg and toss to combine. Bake berries for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

After the berries have finished baking, whisk milk and egg together in a small bowl. Stir in the butter and vanilla. Stir this wet mixture into the flour mixture and pour over the hot berries. Spread out the batter with a spatula. Return to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Mixed Berry Pandowdy

Cool for a bit, then scoop into bowls while it is still warm. The servings will be messy no matter how you do it, so you may as well give into the rustic nature of the dish. Add a touch of vanilla ice cream if you wish.

Pandowdy Bowls

The great part about this dessert is that it lets the berries shine through. In theory, the best way to enjoy berries is fresh and plain or with yogurt or whipped cream. In reality, who does not love a great berry dessert that lets the berries do their thing. The cake on top of the berry mixture is not overly sweet and helps to contrast the intense berry taste with some plain vanilla cake flavor and texture. Plus the fruit looks beautiful studded onto the canvas of the cake. This dessert has all the makings of a summer favorite - quick, easy, light, and tasty.

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