This is my mum’s recipe, and one that brings back many great childhood memories. My family are big fans of apple pie but because of Singapore’s humid weather, making a pie dough can be challenging. Thankfully, Mum always had this amazing fruit cobbler recipe, which she would make for us on special occasions.
Since moving back to Melbourne, this cobbler is something I bake every year for my brother, Kyns-Lee, and our friends at Christmas. It reminds of me of Singapore and definitely helps curb the homesickness I feel during the holidays.
I love using seasonal fruit, and this recipe is great because it is so versatile. I often use berries or stone fruit, but you can also make it with pears, apples or even grapes. I prefer to keep my berries whole or cut my fruits into relatively large cubes so that the fruit retains a little texture and shape once cooked. I also love adding a pinch of sea salt to my desserts – it brings another layer of flavour and accentuates the sweetness of the dish.
350g (2⅓ cups) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
3 tsp baking powder
100g caster sugar
⅓ tsp sea salt
110g cold unsalted butter, cubed
120ml full-cream milk
120ml pure cream
1 tbsp demerara sugar
1 free-range egg yolk
1 tbsp cream
Pinch of sea salt
1.1kg in-season fruit (for the photo we used mixed berries)
50g caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
250ml (1 cup) full-cream milk
250ml (1 cup) pure cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
120g free-range egg yolks
150g caster sugar
If using different fruit, try mixing up the spices: pair apple with ground cardamom, pear with ground cloves or swap the cinnamon in this recipe for a few crushed pink peppercorns. The combinations are endless, so be creative! You can even add a splash of apple cider vinegar for a little tang.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, then add the caster sugar and salt. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the milk and cream and bring the mixture together to form a rough dough (don’t over-knead the dough as it will make the cobbler topping too dense). Wrap in plastic wrap, then set aside in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170°C.
Dust a work surface with flour, then add the dough and sprinkle the top with a little more flour. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the dough to a 2cm thick circle, then use a 6cm pastry cutter to cut out circles. Re-roll any scraps of dough to cut out as many circles as you can.
To make the egg wash, whisk the ingredients together in small bowl.
Toss the fruit filling ingredients together in a large bowl, then transfer to a 30cm x 20cm baking dish. Place the dough circles on top of the fruit, but avoid over- lapping them as they will rise during baking. Use a pastry brush to gently brush the top of your cobbler with the egg wash, then sprinkle over the demerara sugar.
Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 45–55 minutes, until the cobbler topping is golden brown. Meanwhile, to make the creme Anglaise, pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and add the vanilla pod and seeds. Warm the mixture over low heat, stirring every few seconds to prevent scalding.
Whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar in a large heatproof bowl.
Gently bring the milk and cream just up to the boil, then remove and discard the vanilla pod. Pour half the mixture into the egg yolk and sugar and whisk quickly for 1 minute, until the sugar dissolves. Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and stir constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon over medium–low heat for 4–5 minutes, until thickened and the mixture reaches 85°C on a kitchen thermometer (this is called tempering). If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, cook until the mixture coats the back of the spatula or spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
Remove from the heat and strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean heatproof bowl set over an ice bath. Place the creme Anglaise in the fridge until ready to use; it will keep in an airtight container for 3–4 days.
Serve the cobbler just out of the oven with the creme Anglaise poured over the top.
This is an extract from the Broadsheet cookbook Home Made, which features 80 diverse recipes for home cooking, sourced from Melbourne's best cooks, chefs and restaurants. Published by Plum, the book is available for $49.95 at shop.broadsheet.com.au