Cobblers are kind of a confusing dish. They’re not quite pies, they’re not crumbles, and they almost defy categorization. And yet, they are wildly popular. After making them for years, this cast iron skillet blackberry cobbler is my absolute favorite.
Cobblers are generally associated with the Deep South or the American West, but they are popular all over the United States. In recent years, this distinctly American dish has become known as the Southern blackberry cobbler and it can be found on restaurant menus around the world.
History of cobbler
Cobblers came into being in the early 1800s along the American frontier. People moving west and south wanted the comforts of dishes that could be found in the cities, but they lacked the ingredients to make them. Specifically, these hearty and industrious folks lacked the leavening ability necessary to cook fancy pies, puddings, and pastries.
While chemically induced leavening was possible, it wasn’t particularly affordable. And it didn’t taste all that great.
The cobbler was born of necessity. Cooks needed the ability to create good tasting foods without the time consuming and difficult techniques of fancy cooking. The dish is literally cobbled together from parts—hence, the name.
Historically, the ability to use fresh fruit in cobblers was nearly impossible. People in the American West didn’t have access to fresh fruit or berries, so they needed to rely on canned or preserved fruit brought west from the coastal regions. Because of this, the most popular cobblers were made from fruits that could be easily canned or preserved: blackberry, blueberry, and peach.
These days, fresh fruit is the preferred ingredient. And while fresh blackberries, blueberries, and peaches are still the most popular, other fruits like apple, strawberry, and even pear are sometimes used.
However, in general, cobblers are usually only made from a single fruit type. Mixing fruits usually isn’t done.
Why a cast iron skillet
Cast iron skillets, or the covered “Dutch Oven” equivalent, is the preferred cooking method for cobblers. These wonderful pieces of cookware are sturdy, heat uniformly, and, if seasoned properly, are virtually non-stick.
If making a homemade blackberry cobbler, start by using a properly seasoned cast iron skillet. Seasoning doesn’t mean spices. It means a pan that has layers of oil added. As the oil layers heat, the fat polymerizes, creating a non-stick surface.
People who swear by cast iron cooking will say that a well-seasoned skillet is the best method and the pan itself also imparts a flavor on the dish.
How to make blackberry cobbler
Start by pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees. Add butter to the cast iron skillet and place it in the oven to melt in the pan. This should take about 5 minutes.
Place the fresh blackberries in a bowl. While you can use frozen ones, I really recommend trying to stick to fresh fruit whenever possible. Sprinkle the blackberries with about 2 tablespoons of sugar and ½ teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir to coat the berries.
Meanwhile, in a second large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and milk. Mix thoroughly into a batter consistency.
Once the butter has melted, pull the skillet out of the oven and pour in the batter mixture. The skillet is hot (including the handles!), so watch for splatter and take care not to burn yourself. The batter mixture should settle in the cast iron skillet and some of the butter will come up around the sides and even flow over the top. This is normal.
Next, drop the blackberries in right on top of the batter. Do not press them in—just let gravity do the work. Return the mixture to the oven and cook the blackberry cobbler in the cast iron skillet for about 45 minutes. If you like a hard crust on top, you might need to put under the broiler to brown.
When you pull the skillet from the oven, you will need to remove the cobbler from the skillet within a few minutes. Otherwise, it will keep cooking from the residual heat in the cast iron. Transfer the whole cobbler to a cutting board or large serving plate.
Serve the cobbler while warm with either vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on the side.
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted (8 tablespoons)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cups sugar + 2 tablespoons
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, add flour, 1 1/4 cups of sugar, milk, baking powder, and salt. Stir until well mixed.
- Combine blackberries, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl until the berries are coated and set aside.
- Add butter to the cast iron skillet and place in the oven until the butter is melted, about 5 min.
- Carefully pour batter into the hot skillet on top of melted butter. Do not mix. The butter may come up the sides of the pan or over the top of the batter.
- Place blackberries on top of the batter in the pan.
- Cook for 45 minutes or until cooked and golden brown.
If the cobbler does not brown enough, place it under the broiler for a few minutes.
The cobbler should be removed from the skillet within a few minutes because it will continue to cook due to the residual heat in the hot skillet.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 318Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 33mgSodium: 402mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 3gSugar: 35gProtein: 3g