Grab a spoon! This Mixed Berry Cobbler with Cornbread Biscuit Topping is an easy-to-make, comforting summer dessert that’s perfectly-served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Is there anything more homey than a warm, biscuit-topped cobbler during the summer months? It’s such a great way to turn ripe, juicy fruit into a dessert that you want to cozy up to, with a scoop of ice cream, (maybe in front of a fire pit?) under a starry summer sky. Classic.
I recently had a nice quantity of strawberries and blueberries in the fridge, and I knew I had to turn them into a cobbler. Not just any cobbler, though: Berry Cobbler with Cornbread Biscuit Topping!
If you’ve been reading Striped Spatula for a while, you’ll know that I like to create twists on classic recipes. Buttermilk Biscuit Cobbler is one of my favorite desserts. I also love cornbread. So, I thought it would be fun to add some cornmeal to my biscuit topping to bring some of that cornbread texture and flavor to the dish.
Brushed with a little honey butter after baking, the light, fluffy buttermilk cornbread biscuits paired perfectly with the berry cobbler filling. So good!
What is a Cobbler?
Cobblers are desserts that consist of fruit, baked with a biscuit, batter, or sometimes, a cookie-esque topping. Styles of of cobblers tend to vary by region, and you can make them with just about any stone fruit or berry.
In some areas of the Southern United States, cobblers made by pouring a sweetened batter into a baking dish with butter, and then layering fruit, such as sliced peaches, over it. The batter then bakes up around and partially over the fruit.
Biscuit cobblers, such as this berry cobbler recipe, place either rolled or dropped biscuit dough over a mixture of fruit. They’re baked until the biscuits are golden and the fruit is bubbling.
The fruit you choose to use in a biscuit-style cobbler is most often tossed with sugar and a thickener, like cornstarch. The cornstarch helps to turn the fruit juices to a syrup as the cobbler bakes. As the juices release and the fruit bubbles up, they soak into the biscuits on top a bit. Heavenly.
Cookie cobblers are made like biscuit cobblers, but dollop a sugar cookie dough onto the top of the fruit to create a crust. This cobbler topping will be crisper than a biscuit topping.
Is a cobbler the same as a fruit crisp or crumble?
Cobblers, crisps, and crumbles are distinct desserts, though the latter two are often used interchangeably.
Crisps and crumbles have a similar fruit filling to a cookie or biscuit cobbler, but are topped with streusel. Traditionally, the streusel topping for crisps contains oats, while crumble toppings do not (though, this is no longer a steadfast distinction).
Making the Cornbread Biscuit Topping
To make the cornbread biscuit topping for my mixed berry cobbler, I borrowed a technique for drop biscuits that I learned years ago from Cook’s Illustrated. The secret is a combination of melted butter and chilled buttermilk.
Most classic biscuit recipes will have you cut chilled butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender, or use grated frozen butter. These techniques are great, but for easy drop biscuits, Cook’s Illustrated had a much faster technique: stir cold, shaken buttermilk into cooled, melted butter.
By mixing the room temperature butter with the cold buttermilk, the butter clumps into tiny butter pieces. Similar to the texture you get when you cut butter into flour, these little butter clumps keep the biscuit dough light and fluffy.
The butter and buttermilk mixture will look rather curdled when combined. This is correct! Don’t worry!
As the cobbler bakes, the biscuit topping will spread out over the top of the fruit and turn light golden brown. The taste of the cornmeal is delicate here; I wanted just a hint of a cornbread flavor and texture, while still keeping a fluffy biscuit cobbler feel.
As these cornbread biscuits were developed to be a cobbler topping; don’t try to bake them on a baking pan as a standalone biscuit. They will spread out too much.
Serving Mixed Berry Cobbler
As difficult as it is (your kitchen will smell amazing while this cobbler is baking), you need to let the cobbler cool after baking so that the juices have a chance thicken. Anywhere from 30-45 minutes will do the trick.
After cooling, the cobbler will be just slightly warm and perfect for scooping. I like to serve it with vanilla bean ice cream, but lightly-sweetened whipped cream is also delicious.
Like most biscuit-topped recipes, this mixed berry cobbler should be served within several hours of baking. The cornbread biscuits will become heavier in texture on day 2, and will have soaked up quite a bit of the fruit syrup.
More Summer Berry Dessert Ideas
- Flognarde: Berry Clafoutis (Champagne Tastes)
- Lemon Cream Mixed Berry Tart (Striped Spatula)
- Triple Berry Crisp (Cooking Classy)
- Classic Blueberry Pie (Baking a Moment)
- Crepes with Nutella and Fruit (Striped Spatula)
Mixed Berry Cobbler with Cornbread Biscuit Topping
- 1 pound blueberries (about 3 cups)
- 1-1/2 pounds strawberries , tops trimmed and strawberries quartered (about 4 cups)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter , melted and cooled to room temperature
- 1 cup buttermilk , chilled and well-shaken (I use whole milk buttermilk)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon honey
- vanilla ice cream or lightly-sweetened whipped cream
Make the Filling
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with rack in the middle position.
- In a large bowl, toss together berries, 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Transfer to a 13x9x2 baking dish set on a baking sheet (in case any fruit juices spill over).
Make the Biscuit Topping and Bake
- Whisk together flour, cornmeal, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt.
- Add cooled melted butter to chilled buttermilk. Stir until small butter clumps form. Stir butter and buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Drop biscuits over the fruit filling using heaping spoonfuls. Flatten just slightly with the back of your spoon to promote even baking. Topping will spread as it bakes.
- Bake cobbler for 40-45 minutes, until filling is bubbling and topping is browned. Filling will thicken as it cools.
- While cobbler is baking, melt together 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and the honey. Remove cobbler from oven and brush the biscuits with the honey butter mixture.
- Let cobbler cool for 30-45 minutes, until just warm (cobbler is best served within a few hours of being made). Spoon into bowls and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.