Wednesday, February 13, 2008

a cobbler compromise

I would never try to claim that a cobbler is healthy. I can pretty much promise you that I would never bake something without butter, and I am adamantly against the idea of substituting something like apple sauce for fat. This is not a texture I'm interested in. I love my desserts, but I would sooner do without any than eat a fat free dessert that feels like rubber. But I do believe that there are a few compromises that can be made that doesn't negatively affect the end result, and that might make you slightly more inclined to eat some baked goodness without feeling totally guilty about it.

It's lucky for me that I often prefer a fruity dessert over a rich, creamy, or chocolately dessert. Granted, I like that fruit to be in close proximity to pastry, but I think I could do worse in many cases. Fruit, like the mixed berries in this cobbler, doesn't require very much added sugar. And since frozen fruit works so well for recipes like this, you can make it any time of the year.

All that's needed to accompany the fruit is the biscuit topping, and there are two easy fixes that you wouldn't even notice. 1: Replace half the flour with whole wheat pastry flour. I had long experimented with substituting whole wheat flour and running into texture problems, but if you can find whole wheat pastry flour you are likely not to notice it. It is ground much more finely than regular flour. 2: Continue to use butter, but sub out part of it for a healthier fat, like Safflower oil.

Finally, a biscuit topping made with buttermilk, especially low fat buttermilk, is not only fluffier and lighter, but somewhat healthier. This is not a change I made to a classic biscuit topped cobbler, I've always used buttermilk, it's just that now that I know more about buttermilk I can feel good about it.

And of course, the best thing you can do for you health is to bake the cobbler while your loved ones are napping on the couch. Mostly, that just ensures that none of the ingredients are surreptitiously stolen before the dish is finished. Recipe after the jump:

2 12-ounce packages frozen mixed berries, defrosted
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp grated orange zest

For the biscuit topping:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 tbsp safflower oil, or other heart healthy oil
2/3 cup low fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Toss the berries with the sugar, flour and orange zest and set aside while you assemble the biscuit mixture. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the chilled butter with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until mixture resembles a course meal. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the oil and buttermilk, then add to the flour mixture until just combined. Do not overmix or the biscuits will become tough.

Spray an 8x8 baking dish with nonstick spray and fill with the berry mixture. Using a large spoon, dollop the batter into individual biscuits on top of the berry mixture. I made five biscuits but they turned out quite big for a serving, I think this recipe would make 8-10 nicely sized portions. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes, until the biscuits are browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.

1 comment:

Leah said...

That pic is super-adorable. It also is quite reminiscent of the usual state of affairs at my own crib...