Good cobblers may be no more than a fleet of tender biscuits on a sea of sweet fruit, but the good versions can hold their own against fancier desserts. Best of all, they come together in just a few quick steps, then are ready to be dished up hot, accompanied by an all-important scoop of vanilla ice cream.
But for such a simple dessert, only a couple missteps could lead you to a runny filling with doughy biscuits. The key to getting the filling and topping to come together perfectly is cooking them separately. Parbaking the biscuits prevents them from becoming soggy on the bottom once they’re placed atop the fruit, while parbaking the filling firms it up and ensures both components are done at the same time. After short, separate stints in the oven, the two components are baked through together for a no-fuss, summery dessert.
1. Make drop biscuits: The key to great drop biscuits is to mix cold buttermilk with melted butter until it clumps—this clumpy butter gives the biscuits a flaky texture.
2. Parbake the biscuits: Bake the biscuits in a 400-degree oven just long enough for them to puff up nicely and get lightly browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Parbaking the biscuits prevents them from becoming soggy on the bottom when they’re placed on top of the fruit filling. But if you overbake them here, they will become stiff and difficult to fit into the baking dish.
3. Parbake the fruit filling: After parbaking the biscuits, parbake the fruit filling in a covered 9-inch deep-dish glass pie plate just until the fruit is hot and has released its juices, 20 to 25 minutes. Giving the fruit a head start in the oven ensures that when the cobbler is assembled, the biscuits and filling will be perfectly done at the same time.
4. Put it all together: When the fruit has finished parbaking, remove the foil and stir the fruit gently to distribute the heat evenly. Lay the parbaked biscuits on top, placing 7 around the edge of the dish and 1 in the middle.
5. Bake until bubbly: Bake the cobbler, uncovered, until the biscuits are browned and the filling is bubbly. If the cobbler is pulled from the oven before it is bubbling, the filling will not have thickened and will be watery. These bubbling juices can, however, bubble over the rim of the dish—to prevent a sticky mess on the bottom of the oven, we bake the cobbler on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
6. Cool it: Be sure to let the cobbler cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Not only will this prevent you from burning the roof of your mouth, but as the fruit juices cool, they will continue to thicken into a glossy sauce.