It’s time to face facts: summer’s almost over. At least summer in the sense of kids not being in school (most of them have already gone back) and summer blockbusters (I didn’t want to see “Guardians of the Galaxy” but someone told me there’s a talking tree in it so now I do) and summer clothing adorning the mannequins at your local mall (now it’s all stuff for fall). Still, if you live in L.A., summer’s not going anywhere. There’s very little weather-wise here that distinguishes June from July from August from September from October and so forth. Sure, it gets a little chillier as the months go by, but summer never abruptly ends the way it does in other places. Which is why this cobbler is something most of you need to make right away before you’re facing a pile of fallen leaves and why I get to make it for a few months longer than you. Be very jealous.
It comes to us from the new Homesick Texan book: The Homesick Texan’s Family Table. It’s a great extension of her last book, one that inspired me to make enchiladas for the first time.
Confession: this post is called End-Of-Summer Plum Cobbler but my local Gelson’s didn’t have plums. They only had pluots. When I asked the produce manager about it, he said, “Here, let’s taste a few.” Then he got a knife and began cutting open pluots (autocorrect keeps changing that word to “plots”; cutting open plots is what all the screenwriters around me are doing right now at this coffee shop) and we tasted green ones and black ones and purple ones. It was fun. Then I realized he wasn’t a store manager, he was just a man with a knife. I ran away as fast as I could. (Just kidding.)
What’s there to say, really, about this? It’s so easy. You cut the pluots or plums into wedges, you toss them with a healthy amount of sugar and some cinnamon, and then you make a biscuit-like topping with flour, more sugar, melted butter, and buttermilk. It’s kind of a no-brainer.
Once that hits the oven, one of the greatest smells of all time fills your kitchen. I mean, what sweeter smell is there than fruit breaking down with sugar and cinnamon and sweet buttery biscuits baking up along with it? When it comes out of the oven, you’re going to want to put on your bathing suit and dive right in.
Actually, you can do what I did: set it aside and let your apartment continue to smell good. Then serve fried chicken for dinner, along with some coleslaw, and when it’s time to serve the cobbler, stick it back into a 350 oven until the juices are bubbling a little again. Then serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
One tip: stick a knife into that biscuit topping to make sure it’s cooked all the way through (mine was a little underdone). Otherwise, this dessert wowed me on so many levels; most remarkable of all was what happens to plums (or pluots) when they cook for a while with sugar. The juices emerge all dark and purple and they grow even darker as they continue to cook; the result is almost jam-like and wonderful.
So you can bemoan the end of summer or you can elongate summer with this cobbler until the plums and pluots and plots are nowhere to be seen. Then we can talk about making apple pie.
Recipe: End-Of-Summer Plum Cobbler
Summary: Adapted from Lisa Fain’s Homesick Texan’s Family Table
- 8 or 9 plums or pluots (assorted colors, if possible), pitted and sliced
- 3/4 cup sugar PLUS 1 cup sugar for topping
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour PLUS 2 cups all-purpose flour for topping
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 stick butter
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- In a 9 X 13 baking pan, toss together the plums with the 3/4 cup sugar, the 1/4 cup flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest.
- To make the topping, melt the butter over low heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together the 2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pour the melted butter and buttermilk into the dry ingredients and then stir until a sticky, wet dough forms.
- Then, it’s just a matter of dropping spoonfuls of the dough evenly over the plums, leaving a few plums exposed. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes, until the crust is light brown, the plums are bubbling, and (as I learned) a knife comes out of the doughy topping clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving; will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
I doubled Lisa’s recipe to work in a 9 X 13 pan; if you want to make hers, halve it and do it in a 9-inch square pan.
This would work equally well, I bet, with peaches, nectarines, apricots, or any other stone fruit mixed in. In fact, I may try some variations tonight!
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 40 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8