13 August 2014

Plum cobbler

Sometime around mid-August, hints appear that autumn is not far off - it gets a little darker in the evenings, and the cooler mornings bring heavy dews, which collect on the spiders' webs that suddenly seem to be everywhere in my garden. It is still summer, but it is definitely late summer. It is at this time of year that I start to think about cooked puddings. Plums, in season in late summer and early autumn, are lovely in a cooked dessert. Victoria plums, in particular, develop a lovely deep pink colour when cooked.

Plum cobbler is a classic baked pudding. A cobbler is essential stewed fruit with a scone-like topping. I always thought it was a classic British pudding, but internet research suggests that it actually comes from the US. This recipe will feed four.


For the filling
1kg plums
1 vanilla pod
1tbsp caster sugar
1tsp plain flour

For the topping
95g plain flour
5g wholemeal flour
1tsp baking powder
40g cold unsalted butter
a small pinch of salt
15g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
zest of half a lemon
40g whole milk
40g plain yoghurt

Pre-heat an oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 5.

Halve the plums and remove the stones. Place the plums in a glass oven dish along with the caster sugar, the teaspoon of flour, and the seeds from the vanilla pod. The flour helps soak up a little of the juice when the plums cook. Mix together. (We steep the remains of the vanilla pods in vodka, which in time can be used as vanilla essence ... or drunk as vanilla vodka, should you prefer.)

To make the topping: weigh out the flour, and add a small pinch of salt and the baking powder. Using a small amount of wholemeal flour gives the topping a slightly more complex flavour. The baking powder gives the topping some rise when it cooks.

Cut the butter into cubes, add to the flour mixture and rub in. You can either do this by hand or in the food processor, the latter being quicker. The result should look like fine breadcrumbs.

Mix in the lemon zest and caster sugar. Add the milk and yoghurt and mix until well combined. The slight acidity in the dairy products will help the baking powder rise the dough.

Liberally sprinkle a work surface with flour - the dough will be quite sticky, so you might need to use a fair amount. Roll the dough out using a well-floured rolling pin, until it is about 1cm thick.

Cut circles of the dough using a 4cm pastry cutter. Arrange the circles on top of the pudding. Brush the tops with a little milk, and sprinkle with caster sugar.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the fruit is nicely stewed and the topping golden.

I usually eat a cobbler with creme fraiche or plain yoghurt. If you are feeling fancy you could knock up a little creme anglais to serve.


  1. Question. I've never had cobbler before - how does it compare to crumble in terms of taste and texture, and which do you prefer? Do you use crumble topping for some fruits and cobbler for others?

    1. I'd put cobbler in the same spectrum of puddings as crumble. Cobbler topping is softer than crumble, without the crunch that a crumble has. Because the topping is scone-like, cobbler always reminds me slightly of a cream tea! I usually use softer fruit like plums and rhubarb for cobbler, but to be honest you could probably use both toppings inter-changeably. Experiment and let me know how it goes.