The season for local summer fruits—most notably blueberries, blackberries and peaches—is upon us, but it is fleeting. If you ever tire of eating them plain, keep in mind that they lend themselves to an enormous variety of baked desserts. Some have old-fashioned names like cobblers, crisps, buckles, and crumbles. All are perfect ways to savor the fruits of summer. Here are three delicious examples.

FREE-FORM PEACH TART
If you love the sunny flavor of a juicy peach pie but hate dealing with a double crust, this open-faced tart—which is baked in a cast-iron skillet—may be your answer. You still have to work with a pastry crust, but neatness doesn’t count! Garnishing the baked tart with fresh raspberries provides a nice flavor contrast, and so does a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

CRUST:
1 ½ cups flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons ice water

FILLING:
8 to 9 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup fresh raspberries, optional garnish

Several hours before baking, prepare the crust: place first 5 ingredients in the container of a food processor, and pulse until crumbly. With motor still running, add water through the feed tube, and process until dough leaves the sides of the bowl. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in wax paper and chill for at least 1 hour, longer if desired. About an hour before baking, prepare the filling: in a medium bowl, toss the peaches with the lemon juice. In a 1 cup measure, combine the brown sugar with the next 4 ingredients and add to the peaches, mixing well. Let stand for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 13-inch circle. Fold the dough into quarters, and transfer to a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Unfold, letting the edges of the pastry drape over the sides. With a slotted spoon, transfer the peach mixture to the center of the dough, leaving some of the liquid in the bowl. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling, leaving the center exposed. Brush the surfaces of the pastry with the egg. Sprinkle with almonds and sugar, and bake the tart about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden-brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool about 1 hour before serving. To serve, sprinkle raspberries on top, if desired, and cut into wedges. Serves 8.

BLACKBERRY COBBLER
Cobblers are among the most beloved of baked fruit desserts, but there is considerable debate as to the definition of a true cobbler. In New England, it is commonly understood that the dessert consists of a hot fruit mixture topped with a biscuit-like dough that is dropped in cobblestone fashion before baking—hence the name. In the south, however, cobblers often denote a dessert with a top and bottom crust, much like a pie. There are also versions that entail pouring a batter over the fruit that sinks to the bottom as it bakes. Our version hews to the traditional definition and uses blackberries, which are often under-used and under-appreciated. You can substitute other fruits if you like, adjusting the amount of sugar.

2/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup boiling water
3 cups blackberries
1 ½ tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
½ cup milk

Combine 2/3 cup of sugar with the cornstarch in a medium saucepan and whisk in the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, and stir in the berries. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking pan, dot with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. In a medium bowl, combine the next 3 ingredients with the remaining sugar. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Stir in the milk just to moisten. Drop by tablespoons evenly over fruit, leaving spaces between. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the top is golden-brown. Cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. Serves 6 to 8.

SUMMER BERRY BUCKLE
Here’s another heirloom dessert, adapted from a New York Times recipe, that lets you use any combination of berries that appeals. You can even include strawberries if you chop them finely.

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon baking powder
4 cups berries (mixture of blueberries, blackberries, raspberries)
Cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar for dusting

In a medium bowl, with mixer on medium, beat the butter with both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and then beat in the lemon zest and vanilla until well combined. In a 2-cup measure, combine the next 4 ingredients, mixing with a fork. At low speed, add flour mixture to egg mixture, beating just until combined. Gently fold the berries into the batter. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray-coat a 9-inch round cake pan. Spread the batter in the pan and sprinkle lightly with more granulated sugar. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the cake is cooked through. Cool slightly on a wire rack, and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and confectioner’s sugar. Serve warm, cut into wedges. Serves 8.

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