Our Best Ever Blueberry Cobbler is a scrumptious juicy lemon-blueberry filling made with fresh Michigan blueberries and just the right amount of sweetness and tartness. It is crowned with a unique cobbler topping best described as a delightful combination of pie pastry, a buttery fluffy biscuit and a rich, shortbread sugar cookie with a whisper of vanilla and a light sugar and spice topping providing a pleasant crunch. You’re gonna love it!
Improving An American Summer Classic:
Best Ever Blueberry Cobbler
When you name your blog “Wicked Good Kitchen”, you had better be prepared to back it up with truly wicked good fare. Seriously. Believe me when I say that I have been chomping at the bit to share my favorite blueberry cobbler recipe with you all. It is truly wicked good. Honest and truly, it is.
The origins of this recipe began very early in my baking career. Next to raspberries, blueberries are my favorite berry and I was driven to create the very best blueberry cobbler ever. The challenge was to develop a recipe that was full of blueberries and sweetened just right but not too soupy or too thick and gooey. Developing the topping for the recipe was key as it had to be buttery, flavorful and crunchy yet balance with the amount of blueberry filling. In addition, the filling had to be “bright” with the added flavor of lemon and not get mucked up with warming spices. Spices shall be reserved for the sugary topping, I thought to myself. What is interesting is some of these challenges were even highlighted, later, in Cook’s Illustrated.
Per Cook’s Illustrated, Published July 1, 2002.
Best Blueberry Cobbler
“The Problem: Too often, blueberry cobbler means a filling that is sickeningly sweet, overspiced, thick, and gloppy and biscuits are undercooked or overcooked, doughy or dry.”
“The Goal: The biscuit should stand tall with structure, be crisp on the outside and light and buttery on the inside, and complement a lightly thickened, lightly sweetened and spiced filling. Most important, the cobbler has to come together easily.”
Exactly. However, as mentioned above, this baker prefers to spice the cobbler topping versus the filling. The purist in me enjoys a nice juicy lemon-blueberry filling with a nutmeg dusted sugar topping or cinnamon-sugar topping. Although my Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping doesn’t stand tall like a biscuit, it does have some fluff to it due to just the right amount of baking powder.
For over 20 years now, I have been making my Best Ever Blueberry Cobbler. And it has been a family favorite to the point of becoming legendary. It has been a constant in my summer dessert rotation and family and friends always beg me to bring it to barbecues and picnics. My husband and I would even pack up a cooler with plenty of ice and bring our iSi 1-Pint Cream Whipper (nicknamed “Izzy”) prepared and fully charged with sweetened fresh heavy whipping cream so everyone could enjoy the special treat of fresh whipped cream with their cobbler whilst dining in the breezy outdoor summertime air.
This cobbler is a joy to make. It is so easy, you won’t believe it. Making it is much easier than laboring over homemade berry pies from scratch. No fuss, no muss. You’re in and out of the kitchen in a flash. As you know, this is very important during the summer when we’d rather be at the beach or our favorite park. If you can blend together biscuit dough with a pastry blender, you are “in like Flynn” with this recipe. Personally, I enjoy using a pastry blender versus a food processor as I enjoy feeling the baking process through my senses.
Let’s discuss this “best ever” blueberry cobbler situation.
There are cobblers and then, well, there are cobblers. Folks will get into a complete tizzy over just what constitutes an authentic fruit “cobbler”. Some say a pastry pie crust on top is authentic (like a bottomless pie) while others insist biscuit batter dropped onto the filling is true blue. Then, there is the type of topping that is a very wet batter—like a cake batter. Not my cup of tea. I like to reserve my cake and berries combo to Strawberry Shortcake.
Finally, there is the “Lazy Day” type of cobbler dating back to the 1920s and 1930s where a custard-like cake batter is created and poured over melted butter in a prepared hot baking dish before the fresh berries are dropped in and sugar is sprinkled on top. The “Lazy Day” cobbler recipes were found in women’s magazines like Modern Priscilla. The recipes were popular because they were economical during hard times to feed large families and called for few ingredients—generally ingredients always kept on hand.
However, there is a growing faction in support of the biscuit crumble topping—a sort of pie pastry crumbled over the top giving way to the characteristic “cobbled” or “cobblestone” crackly appearance on top after baking. One thing is certain, blueberry cobbler resides in our hearts and we remain true blue to our time-tested family favorites.
As I mentioned, I have been baking my Best Ever Blueberry Cobbler for years. The resulting recipe was sort of a happy accident when I decided not to add milk or buttermilk to the biscuit topping I was preparing. (I like to tinker with recipes and feel like a scientist in my “lab”. This trait must be inherent in all bakers. This, too, is an obsession…in a good way.) Instead of milk, I decided to add a beaten egg for richness, like sugar cookie richness. However, I decreased the amount of sugar and added pure vanilla extract for flavor.
The result? The most sublime blueberry cobbler I had ever made. Like, ever–even better than Best Blueberry Cobbler by Cook’s Illustrated. Seriously. Conclusion? Milk is just wrong. The more pastry-like and cookie-like a cobbler topping is, versus cake-like, the better. Way better. In my humble opinion. The delectable topping is moist and buttery yet delightfully crunchy but neither dry and/or crumbly like so many others.
This especially scrumptious biscuit topping is best described as a delightful combination of pie pastry, a buttery fluffy biscuit and a rich, shortbread sugar cookie with a whisper of vanilla. The scrumptious topping has a pleasant contrasting crunch to the juicy fresh fruit filling. Sometimes I adorn the topping with freshly grated nutmeg. Other times, I prepare a cinnamon-sugar topping. What’s not to love? You need more love in your life, right?
Now, for the “goosebumps” part of my story.
A few years later, in 1996, I happened upon a cookbook at Half Price Books featuring recipes from the finest restaurants in the Midwest. A fabulous find. The cookbook I am referring to is The Best of the Midwest: Recipes from Thirty-Two of America’s Finest Restaurants by Linda and Fred Griffith (1990), now out-of-print. When I came to the chapter on my native Michigan, I was captivated by the entries for Tapawingo. Tapawingo, which sadly closed in 2009, was located in Northern Michigan in the city of Ellsworth and was owned and operated by Chef Pete Peterson—one of our nation’s best chefs having studied in Paris at La Varenne. The name “Tapawingo” comes from the Indian name given to the house when it was first built which Chef Pete kept as the name for his restaurant.
In this magnificent cookbook, on page 77, I found a recipe for Rhubarb Cobbler. As an avid baker, I am always fascinated by different toppings for cobbler. I had never thought of making a cobbler with just rhubarb alone, without strawberries. However, nonetheless, I read on through the recipe and decided to try it. When I made the recipe, I substituted fresh summer peaches.
As I was preparing my fresh peach cobbler, I was astounded (like, goosebumps kind of freakish surprised). The topping recipe was eerily similar to my biscuit crumble topping. I was floored. Seriously floored. Although Tapawingo’s recipe is a bit richer as it calls for an egg yolk, when you pare down the ingredients, it is rather similar. This particular baking experience was comforting—just knowing a talented pastry chef, at Tapawingo, was thinking along the same lines when developing their recipe for Rhubarb Cobbler as I was. Talk about culinary validation.
What makes our Best Ever Blueberry Cobbler wicked good?
A glorious juicy lemon-blueberry filling made with fresh Michigan blueberries and just the right amount of sugar for sweetness and lemon zest for tartness. A unique cobbler topping best described as a delightful combination of pie pastry, a buttery fluffy biscuit and a rich, shortbread sugar cookie with a whisper of vanilla and a light sugar topping providing a pleasant crunch. Yes, our Best Ever Blueberry Cobbler is definitely wicked good. Bake some today. Or, as soon as humanly possible. You won’t regret it! That’s a bona fide promise.
NOTE: This recipe for Best Ever Blueberry Cobbler first appeared on Wicked Good Kitchen on June 10, 2013. The article, recipe (metrics added) and images have been updated.
Below are Pinterest-friendly sized images to pin at Pinterest!
What makes our blueberry cobbler wicked good? A lemon-blueberry filling made with fresh blueberries and a unique buttery topping which is like a delightful combination of pie pastry, a fluffy biscuit and a shortbread sugar cookie with a pleasant crunch. It’s irresistibly good!
For the Blueberry Filling
- 6 cups (30 oz or 850 g) fresh blueberries, sorted, rinsed and dried
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons (4 g) freshly grated lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons (22.5 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
For the Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping
- 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons (about 158 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (75 g) granulated cane sugar
- 1½ teaspoons (7.2 g) baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon (1.2 g) fine-grain sea salt, or ¼ teaspoon (1.5 g) regular table salt
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick or about 85 g) unsalted butter, chilled & cut into bits
- 1 large egg (mine weighed 52 g w/o shell), slightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon (12.5 g) granulated cane sugar
- ½ teaspoon (1.25 g) ground cinnamon, optional
- ¼ teaspoon (.65 g) freshly ground nutmeg, optional
- Arrange oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Lightly butter 10-inch (25 cm) pie plate or 2-quart (1.89 liters) baking dish. (Generally, an oblong 2-quart or 1.89 liter baking dish measures about 7 x 11 inches (18 x 28 cm) with 2-inch (5 cm) high sides.)
- Prepare the Blueberry Filling: Place blueberries into prepared baking dish. In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. (I like to work the zest into the sugar with my fingers to release the essential oils for maximum flavor.) Add the flour and whisk until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle mixture evenly over berries in prepared baking dish and toss gently. Make sure the sugar and flour mixture is evenly distributed over the fruit with no mounding in the center or in any one place. This will ensure the sugar will caramelize and the flour will thicken evenly throughout the cobbler with the berry juices. Set aside.
- Prepare the Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until well combined. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles a coarse meal with small pea-sized pieces of butter. In a small bowl, whisk vanilla into beaten egg using a fork. With a fork, gently toss beaten egg and vanilla into flour mixture until moistened and dough starts to hold together. Continue to toss and blend gently with fingertips until well combined yet taking care not to overwork the dough.
- Assemble the Cobbler: Sprinkle biscuit crumble topping evenly over fruit filling. Sprinkle biscuit crumble topping with sugar and, if desired, dust with freshly grated nutmeg. Alternatively, dust with cinnamon-sugar combining sugar and cinnamon before sprinkling over topping. If desired, dust freshly grated nutmeg over cinnamon-sugar.
- Bake the Cobbler: Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden brown and filling is cooked through and bubbly, about 40 to 45 minutes. To prevent over-browning of topping, cover with sheet of aluminum foil after 25 minutes of baking. Remove foil and carefully transfer to wire rack to cool.
- Serve the Cobbler: Serve cobbler warm a la mode or with fresh whipped cream…or both!
- Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings.
For the Fruit Filling: Make sure the sugar and flour mixture is evenly distributed over the fruit with no mounding in the center or in any one place. This will ensure the sugar will caramelize and the flour will thicken evenly throughout the cobbler with the berry juices.
For Large Batch to Serve a Crowd: This variation is baked in a 9 x 13-inch, 3-quart (22.5 x 33 cm, 2.8 L), oblong glass baking dish. It is essentially 1.5 times the original recipe above.
Yield: 12 to 15 servings.
For the Blueberry Filling
9 cups (1275 g) fresh blueberries, sorted, rinsed and dried
1½ cups (300 g) granulated cane sugar
1 tablespoon (6 g) freshly grated lemon zest
¼ cup plus 1½ teaspoons (about 34 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
For the Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping
2 cups (240 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (112.5 g) granulated cane sugar
2¼ teaspoons (about 11 g) baking powder
¼ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon (1.8 g) fine-grain sea salt, or regular table salt
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons or 127 g) unsalted butter, chilled & cut into bits
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk (mine weighed 70 g w/o shell), slightly beaten
1½ teaspoons (7.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1½ tablespoons (18.75 g) granulated cane sugar
½ to ¾ teaspoon (1.25 to about 1.8 g) ground cinnamon, optional
¼ teaspoon plus ⅛ teaspoon (about 1 g) freshly ground nutmeg, optional
Directions: Before assembling the cobbler, lightly butter baking dish. Follow recipe directions for preparing the cobbler. However, bake in preheated oven (375ºF or 190ºC) until topping is golden brown and filling is cooked through and bubbly, about 50 to 55 minutes. To prevent over-browning of topping, cover with sheet of aluminum foil after 30 to 35 minutes of baking. After baking, remove foil and carefully transfer to wire rack to cool.
For Eggless Option: Simply substitute 2 to 4 tablespoons (30 to 60 ml) nondairy milk (almond or coconut milk) or whole milk in lieu of the 1 large egg called for in recipe. Start with adding 2 tablespoons (30 ml) (along with vanilla extract) and then add desired amount of milk up to 4 tablespoons (60 ml) as needed. Gently toss into flour mixture with a fork until moistened and dough starts to hold together. Continue with recipe as directed.
For Vegan Option: Substitute 4½ tablespoons (54 g) organic palm shortening, such as Spectrum®, and 1½ tablespoons (21 g) coconut oil for the 6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter called for in recipe. (This is Wicked Good Kitchen’s favorite ratio to use when substituting tropical fats for butter in baking.) Alternatively, use your favorite vegan butter substitute. Then, simply follow directions above for Eggless Option and use your favorite nondairy milk to replace the egg called for in recipe.
For Gluten Free Option: Substitute Cup4Cup® Gluten-Free Flour (INGREDIENTS: Cornstarch, white rice flour, brown rice flour, milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch, xanthan gum.), available at Williams-Sonoma, or your favorite gluten-free flour blend (that includes guar gum or xanthan gum) measured cup for cup or by grams in place of the all-purpose wheat flour called for in the recipe.
For the Blueberry Filling, use 3 tablespoons (24 g) Cup4Cup® Gluten Free Flour.
For the Buttery Biscuit Crumble Topping, use 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons (168 g) Cup4Cup® Gluten Free Flour.
Original Recipe Source: WickedGoodKitchen.com
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