Audrey's three-crust blackberry cobbler

Audrey was my grandmother.  I didn't know her well and was only in her kitchen a handful of times, but I do remember hearing about this cobbler.  Unfortunately, I don't think I ever tasted hers.  But it was legend since I grew up hearing my father talk about it.

As an adult, I figured out how to make it by trial and error, and now I make it every summer.  Once.  Yesterday was the day.

I make it every year because it's gorgeous and super yummy.  What's not to love about flaky pastry layered with the season's fresh ripe sweet-tart blackberries macerated in a bit of sugar and lemon and baked until thick and satiny?  But I also make it because it reminds me of my grandmother -- "Big Grandma" as I began calling her when I was a little girl.

I took this photo of Big Grandma (and grandpa) on her birthday -- probably 1978.  Her three sons (my dad in the middle) behind. It was taken in her kitchen at the Westmont, Illinois home where my dad grew up.
Big Grandma passed away in 2004.  Unfortunately, I hadn't seen her much in the years before her death.  But one of my fondest memories of her was my visit to her and my grandfather in 1992, the year I finished college.  I stayed at their home in Georgia where they had retired for a couple nights with Byron, then my boyfriend.  They really liked him, which made me feel good.  All of us -- grandma, grandpa, Byron, me, and my aunt who lived nearby -- sat up late into the evening looking at photos and telling family stories.  It was a really fun night.  I also remember that Big Grandpa drove us into town the next day in the Lincoln town car, very slowly, for lunch. (Grandpa used to be a Chicago city bus driver and he wielded that Lincoln like a bus!)  Wherever it was we went, he timed it just right so that we made it back home in time for Matlock after lunch.  That was a must.  I have no memory of what, if anything, my grandmother cooked for us during our visit.  I just remember her being so pleased we had come.  

Although she never tasted my version of her famous cobbler, I think she would approve.  The secret is the middle layer of pastry, tucked between layers of fruit that soaks up the juices and adds a little more of that wonderful juice-saturated crust and syrupy berries to every bite. 

Strictly speaking, this may not be a true cobbler since the crust is made from pie dough rather than biscuits or crumbles.  But we've always called it a cobbler -- so I suppose it is.

Audrey's Three-Crust Blackberry Cobbler 

The crust:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tb. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 c. vegetable shortening (like regular Crisco)
11 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water (use the lesser amount of water in western Washington)
1 egg
1 Tb. lemon juice

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor.  Add shortening and butter and pulse until the they are well incorporated and the pieces are about the size of a pea.

In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients.  With the motor running add the wet to the dry, processing until it begins to come together into a ball.

Place the dough on a large piece of parchment or plastic, shape into a disc, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

The fruit:
5 pints fresh blackberries (6 pints if they are small berries)
1 Tb. fresh lemon juice
3/4 - 1 cup sugar
2 Tbs. flour
dabs of cold, unsalted butter
1 egg for an egg wash
sugar for sprinkling

Rinse and drain the berries right before preparing the filling.  I like to make two batches/bowls of fruit since there are two layers of fruit and I like to put more on the bottom layer.  For the first batch, mix together three pints of berries, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tb. flour.  Set aside and let it macerate.  In another bowl, mix together the remaining berries with the sugar, 1 Tb. flour and the lemon juice.  Set aside.

To assemble:
Use half the dough for the bottom layer.  Using plenty of flour, roll the dough into a rectangle such that it fits over the bottom and comes all the way up and a little over the sides of the baking dish.  I use a deep lasagne pan that is a tad smaller than 9x13. Pour the first batch of fruit onto the dough and spread evenly.  Roll out 1/3 of the remaining dough to fit on top of the fruit, making it just large enough to touch the sides loosely.  Arrange the second batch of fruit in a single layer on top of the pastry.  Add dabs of cold butter across the top.

This photo shows the middle layer of pastry covered with the second batch of fruit.
Finally, roll out the remaining dough into a rectangle large enough to cover the cobbler and go up the sides far enough to pinch it together with the bottom layer of dough.  Cracks and imperfections are expected.  Don't try to fix them too much.  Make a decorative edge if you can.  Brush the entire top of the cobbler with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little granulated or raw sugar to add texture and a little color while baking.

Chill the entire cobbler in the refrigerator for about 30-40 minutes.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake the on a shelf in the middle of the oven for about 40-50 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top.  Let it cool for at least 30 minutes.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Comments

sherilee said…
Three crusts? I've never heard of that, but why not--sounds really yummy. I'll have to give that a spin, soon.

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