Of all the desserts I’ve made, I have the fondest memories of apple cobbler. It was the first thing I learned to make well and it was a sure-fire bribe when it came to getting my brother to do things for me. As a teen, all I had to do was place a freshly baked cobbler next to an empty bowl, with a tempting spoon resting on its side, and my brother would happily wash the dishes or vacuum the house – both things on my weekend chore list. Oh yes. Behold the powers of a simple bowl… filled with warm apple slices, a biscuity topping, and scoops of vanilla ice cream.
Yet apple cobbler is more than a token of my younger days. It’s also inextricably connected to love… and fire… and what eventually became a funny story that wasn’t very funny at the time. I’ll explain.
My husband and I met during our junior year of college, and one cool, autumn evening he invited me over to his place for a study date. He rented the first floor of a house with two of his friends, and since renting a house meant he also had a full-sized kitchen I thought it’d be a great idea to make a cobbler for him. Not only would it be a welcome accompaniment to a long night of studying, but it was the perfect way to further win his affections. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach right? This was my chance.
I deftly sliced the apples, sprinkled the cinnamon sugar, mixed the batter for the biscuit topping, then assembled it all in a pie dish. Needless to say, my boyfriend was impressed. I slid the cobbler into the oven just as he headed off to the market for vanilla ice cream, and let me tell you, I was looking forward to unveiling that cobbler when he got back – all syrupy and golden and delicious.
I spent the next 15 minutes studying in my boyfriend’s room with the door shut, deeply engrossed in a chapter of my psychology book because I was just that awesome of a student. Then I heard something. What was that? An alarm? I got up, cracked open the door and was met with an enormous cloud of thick, white smoke. Oh. my. god.
Both of my boyfriend’s roommates were out that night, so I was the only one there, aside from the landlord who lived upstairs and will enter this story in just a moment. I dashed over to the oven and opened the door, jumping back with a yelp as flames came shooting out. Then I slammed the door shut and stood there, paralyzed for a moment. I had no idea what to do. This wasn’t my kitchen, I didn’t know where the fire extinguisher was! And just as that panicked thought entered my head the landlord kicked down the door, wide-eyed and phone in hand, ready to call 911. “No! It’ll be fine!” I exclaimed, “It’s just my cobbler! The juice from the apples, the apples were too juicy! It bubbled over and caught on fire, that’s all!” “Open the doors and windows!” he shouted, and I immediately ran to the front door to fling it open.
As the door swung wide and I stepped onto the front porch, I saw my boyfriend walking up the block, ice cream in hand… and it was at this point that I did what any college aged gal would do when faced with a romantic situation gone horribly awry. I started crying. Right there on the porch, with smoke billowing out behind me and the landlord screaming obscenities as he frantically ran around the apartment opening windows. “It wasn’t supposed to be this way!” I sobbed as my boyfriend drew closer and his facial expression grew increasingly perplexed, “I’m so sorry!”
Did I know how to romance a guy or what?
I’m not sure why my then boyfriend, now husband, stayed with me after this incident. I mean yes, the flames did die down eventually… you know, as the sugars from the juice ran out. And yes, his landlord was relatively understanding since the house didn’t burn down. The cobbler was even edible – or at least that’s what my husband made me believe, though in retrospect I think he just wanted to make me feel better. While writing this blog entry I asked him, “Exactly why did you stay with me after the apple cobbler debacle?” He responded, “Because it was funny and I knew you’d be a source of endless comic relief in my life.”
So there you have it – and now you know why apple cobbler is so dear to my heart.
The above story aside, my recipe for apple cobbler, which has evolved over the years, is soul-satisfyingly delicious. If you don’t believe me let the photo above serve as evidence – just learn from my romantic mistakes and put a baking sheet underneath the dish.
My Favorite Apple Cobbler (My Recipe)
- For the apples:
- 5-6 Golden Delicious apples, peeled and sliced (about 6 cups)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs
For the biscuit topping:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
To make the apple filling: In a medium bowl combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Put the apple slices in a large pot, then add the sugar mix. Toss to combine. Cook over medium heat until almost tender, about 7 minutes.
To make the biscuit topping: In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter pieces and mix them into the flour with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. (You can also do this with a food processor and a pastry blade.) Add the milk, then the eggs, one at a time, stirring between additions with a wooden spoon. Mix until just combined.
Transfer the cooked apples to a regular sized pie dish. Use a tablespoon to drop spoonfuls of batter onto the apples, one next to the other.
Place a cookie sheet under the pie dish and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cobbler topping is golden brown. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.