Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blackberry Cobbler

By guest Mollie Cox Bryan

Even though my book (Scrapbook of Secrets) has a scrapbooking theme, food is front and center at times. Scrapbooking can be a social hobby and often where we gather, we also have food. I’m so happy to be posting here today because I know the writers and the fans of this blog really get that. I am preaching to the choir!

This is one of my favorite scenes in the book. It tells you a lot about Vera, one of my main characters.

Vera made her mind up to stop dieting last year. She decided to become a better role model for her students—and there was just no point in starving herself any longer. She would never be a ballerina. She had been on a diet for thirty years or so—after her dance teacher, when Vera was about ten—made a remark about her thighs.
Forget her. I am not starving anymore.
It was so freeing.
The first thing she ate—really ate, with abandon— was her mother’s blackberry cobbler. Not a piece of cobbler, but the whole thing.
She sat at her mother’s 1950s chrome and turquoise Formica kitchen table—the same table on which she ate almost every meal when she was a girl—and ate a piece while it was still fresh out of the oven.
“Do you have any vanilla ice cream, Ma?”
“Huh? Yeah, sure,” answered Beatrice, who was visibly taken aback by her daughter’s sudden love of blackberry cobbler.
“I have always loved it, Ma,” Vera said, as if reading her mind. “I just was always watching my weight. And I figure, well, what’s the point?”
Vera then ate a slice covered with vanilla ice cream. Real ice cream—for her mother never bought any thing low fat or low carb or low sugar. She almost fainted at the creaminess, the mixture of textures and temperatures in her mouth. The next piece was covered with dollop of whipped cream, while her mother tried to look busy wiping of a non-existent crumb from the teal, speckled Formica counter, not wanting to stare at her only child as she seemed to be enjoying a private moment with the cobbler.
As Vera relished each bite, the mixture of the gritty and gelatinous mingled with sweet, juicy berries, covered with a light but substantial crust, her mother gave up her stance and watched intently. Her mouth hung open after Vera’s fourth piece.
She handed her the pan. “Here, baby, this is the best way. Have at it,” she said and left Vera alone with the blackberry cobbler.  Later she explained that she felt it was the only proper thing to do.
After all, Vera had not touched cobbler, pie, or cake since she was ten-years-old.
So, Vera had put on about twenty pounds. But it was a good gain. She had more breasts and hips and thighs than ever before. And she loved her body. It was hers and it did everything it was supposed to do and more. She rewarded it often with good chocolate—preferably fresh and artisanal. She was still a graceful woman and dancer, even with the extra twenty pounds and she was a happier person.

Beatrice’s Blackberry Cobbler
(Vera’s first cobbler after years of not eating anything sweet)

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups blackberries, picked over, rinsed & drained
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cold, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup boiling water

In a large bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Add 1 cup of sugar, lemon juice, and blackberries; combine gently. Transfer to a cast iron skillet.

In a bowl, combine the flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1/4 cup boiling water and stir the mixture just until a soft dough is formed.

Bring the blackberry mixture to a boil, stirring. Drop spoonfuls of the dough carefully onto the boiling mixture, and bake the cobbler on a baking sheet (line with foil to avoid a mess) in the middle of a preheated 400°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the topping is golden. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Photo by Gluten Free Cooking

Mollie Cox Bryan is a freelance writer, a mystery author, and the author of "Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies," "Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant Cookbook" and a NEW mystery novel, "Scrapbook of Secrets: A Cumberland Creek Mystery." Who says writers can't cook?


  1. Thank so much for hosting me today. I've been such a big fan of this blog for a long time. I LOVE all the pie stuff going on here. It's such an honor for me to be here, really. Thanks so much. Cheers!

  2. Sounds like a good cobbler!
    PS- I use to eat at Mrs. Rowe's all the time when I was growing up. It's so cool that you authored two cookbooks based on her recipes :-)

  3. Hey thanks for commenting. The restaurant is over 70 years old now! Amazing story. The first cookbook is a narrative cookbook about Mrs. Rowe's life, restaurant, family and some local history. The second cookbook was more of an extension of the first. She was famous for her pie, so we wanted to do a separate book. I loved writing those books, but now I am LOVING writing mysteries too.

  4. Welcome! On my list of all-time favorite foods -- blackberries! And cobbler. Oh, yes! Love it. Thank you for sharing. Happy Easter to all! May your lives be blessed with joy.


  5. Thank you for the warm welcome Avery. I love blackberries, too. I've such fond memories of picking blackberries as a kid. Happy Easter, to you, too.

  6. Thank so much for joining us today, Mollie! Your blackberry cobbler recipe is fabulous. Love that it's in a cast iron skillet. I'll have to be sure I try it when the blackberries are ripe this summer!

    ~ Krista

  7. Hi Krista, thanks so much for the welcome. I gotta tell ya, the cast iron skillet is one of my favorite kitchen tools. I make everything from cornbread to scramble eggs in mine. Once again, thank you so much!

  8. Mollie, I am in the middle of reading your book right now. Vera, Annie, and Bea are great characters. The scene you mentioned here has been my favorite one so far in the book. Can't wait to finish the book and hope there are many more in the series.

  9. Thanks so much--I can't tell you how much it means to hear from readers that they are enjoying the book and like my characters. The next book SCRAPBOOK OF SHADOWS will be published Jan. 2013. I'm hoping to fill in some of that time gap with some short stories. Please check on my website now and then so you don't miss anything! Once again, thank you SO much!

  10. If I don't have a cast iron skillet, could there be another option? I would love this try this recipe. Thank you!! Tara

  11. Yes, Tara. You can heat the berry mixture in any pan, basically. Then transfer it to a baking pan, then drop the dough mix on top of it and bake. Thanks for commenting!