photo by Shannon Fitzgerald

There is an episode in my pick-your-own past that I remember quite vividly, and it involves those Kentucky sapphires commonly known as blackberries. This is a fond memory and a very important building block to my relationship with food– you can’t get any closer to the ground than hand-selecting your food straight off the bush.

Even though the day in the fields ended up a bit traumatic because I received my first bee sting, I was treated inside the farmhouse almost immediately, and we were soon back home with our spoils. All in all, it was a champion for great homegrown foods. With such a surplus, we sprinkled the berries with sugar and froze them in big bags…from which little lady gourmet hands snuck frozen treats every fifteen minutes.

Many of us have the same experience with pick-your-own at Huber’s Farm, at the very least by picking our own pumpkins from time to time. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons that Louisvillians are so taken by our food traditions. We appreciate the energy that goes into the food, from both mother nature and the farmer, and that connection encourages us to treat food as the precious commodity it is. Thus, we have at our fingertips a long history of great food, combining the influences of our overseas ancestors, a rich Southern tradition, a Midwestern sense of harvest bounty, and a population that nurtures their recipes as one in the family.

I recently had a new neighbor move in from the New England area, so I took it upon myself to make a little “Welcome to Louisville” treat. A quick stroll through the store told me that blackberries were going to be my main ingredient! Luckily one of our Kentucky treasures is the traditional Blackberry Cobbler, so off I went to whip up this classic dessert, perfect for cooler weather.

cobbler on its way into the oven
photo by Shannon Fitzgerald

Blackberry Cobbler is a very easy recipe, the only catch is that it takes about 45-55 minutes in the oven to go through the bubbling, caramelizing, browning process (now that doesn’t sound too bad, does it?). The cobbler batter is a wonderful base that I could eat directly with a spoon if I didn’t have the promise of blackberry heaven in my immediate future. It is akin to biscuits, and doesn’t have sugar in the batter itself…that comes with the blackberries to create a nice glazed crust on top. For warmer weather, you can serve the cobbler with warmed cream (which I chose), or with fresh whipped cream–whatever makes you happy.

Kentucky Blackberry Cobbler
Traditional Recipe

  • 2 1/2 C Fresh blackberries, washed
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 1 C Flour
  • 2 t Baking powder
  • 1/2 t Salt
  • 1 C Milk
  • 1 Stick of unsalted butter, melted

First you should take care of the blackberry and sugar mixture because it needs to sit for a while. Stir together just the berries and sugar in a large bowl and let it sit out for 25-30 minutes. This will coax out the juices of the blackberries so that they can be sweetened up by the sugar, and we can taste the full spectrum of the fruit–this process is called macerating.

After about 20 minutes, you should turn on the oven to about 375º and start preparing your batter.

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and milk with a wooden spoon. Next, stir in the melted butter and hand-mix it until the ingredients are well incorporated and you have few clumps.

Pick out a clean baking dish– a smaller one will do– pour in the batter and smooth it out. You can choose to line it with parchment paper or not, but don’t grease the pan (there is enough butter in there already!). Finally, pour the macerated blackberries on top with all the sugar included and evenly distribute it over the batter.

the pan of happiness
photo by Shannon Fitzgerald

Bake this promising pan of happiness in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how golden you prefer it to be. Let it set up for a good 15 minutes so it will hold its shape. It will be bubbling like crazy and quite hot, so be careful!

This hour goes a little like this: you can hear it bubbling through the vent behind the stove, you can smell the buttery dough caramelizing with the sugar, and you can see the dotted crown of blackberries creating that quintessential golden cobbler crust. It is a marvel to have in your oven, let me tell you!

Serve warm or room temperature with warmed cream or fresh whipped cream. You can store this at room temperature with foil over it for 2-3 days, probably longer in the fridge…but it never lasts that long for me!

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Shannon Fitzgerald blogs at Louisville Lady Gourmet. She is a grad of Bellarmine University and North Oldham High. She sings with Flamenco Louisville and teaches German and Spanish at Los Monitos. And she says, “I am seeking out the food culture of Louisville and reveling in the fact I can walk down the street, follow a deliciously rich smell, enter a welcoming restaurant, and share the joy of someone who has just as much passion about food as I do!”

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