Topped with tender buttermilk biscuits, this Old-Fashioned Apple Cobbler is the epitome of comfort food!
Served warm, the combination of cinnamon spiced apples, biscuits and a luscious scoop of vanilla ice cream will have you swooning!
Old Fashioned Apple Cobbler
I make cobblers every summer, especially with peaches. Apple crisps and pies frequent our autumn menu as do other apple treats. But, for some odd reason, I’ve never made an apple cobbler. I turned to The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book for guidance on how to make the best cobblers. Their formula did not disappoint! The biscuit topping was so darn tasty!
What is a Cobbler?
A cobbler is a fruit dessert, but how does it differ from a fruit crisp, crumble, brown Betty, grunt and all those other alternatives? Well, a cobbler can be made of fruit or a savory casserole type filling with a biscuit, dumpling or batter topping.
Crisps and crumbles differ as they have a crumbly topping, often containing oats. A brown Betty and grunt or slump are sub categories of cobblers, the former topped with bread crumbs and the latter cooked on a grill, stove top or open fire instead of in an oven. If you’re totally confused, don’t worry. Just scan the recipes and check out what sort of topping is mentioned—if it appeals to you, give it a try! If you love excellent biscuits, this old-fashioned apple cobbler is for you!
And if you want more cobbler recipes, I’m loving the looks of this Blueberry Cobbler which can be made with either fresh or frozen blueberries, this dreamy Strawberry Cobbler and the double dose of fruit in this Blueberry Peach Cobbler!
How to Make Tender Biscuits
There are a couple keys to making the best biscuits. A good recipe and a little knowledge will help you make terrific biscuits and/or cobbler topping.
- First, your leaveners, primarily the baking powder, must be fresh. Baking powder only has a shelf life of 9-12 months and doesn’t get used as much as baking soda. PRO-Tip: Mark your baking powder with the date you open it, and replace within the year.
- You can always check the potency of baking powder by putting a small amount in some hot water and seeing if it begins to fizz immediately. This lets you know that carbon dioxide gasses are being released and that the product is fresh. Baking soda has a very long shelf life, but I replace mine yearly if not more often.
- Next, there must be small bits of cold butter distributed throughout the batter. When the biscuits/or biscuit topping hits a hot oven, the cold butter releases steam and makes for little pockets of air throughout the biscuits. It’s those pockets that help make tender biscuits. The ATK recipe states to pour the cold buttermilk into some melted butter. When the cold milk hits the butter, the mixture starts to curdle or coagulate and whisking helps break the butter into small bits.
- Other ways to distribute cold bits of butter into the batter include using a pastry blender or pulsing the cold butter into the dry ingredients with a food processor. Whichever method you choose, do not overwork the dough. Handling it too much will cause the butter to warm up and therefore, not produce the steam as it melts in the oven.
The Cobbler Formula AKA How to Make a Cobbler
The cookbook I referenced above had specifications for all sorts of fruit. Sugar and cornstarch amounts depend on your produce. For example, sour cherries need more sugar than sweeter fruit.
- Start with your fruit, using 3 pounds apples, pears, peaches, plums or sour cherries. If going the berry route, use 6 cups of blueberries, blackberries or raspberries. Apples and pears should be peeled, cored and cut into chunks.
- Mix the fruit with from 1/4-3/4 cups sugar depending on the sweetness of the fruit, cornstarch to thicken the juices, plus complimentary flavorings, like cinnamon, lemon juice, almond or vanilla extract. Cinnamon and lemon juice were perfect for this apple dessert. I like using a variety of baking apples for the best flavor profile.
- Cover the fruit mixture with foil and bake at 400º or until the fruit releases its juices. By partially baking the filling, the fruit juices start to thicken and the fruit softens.
- Next make your biscuits, divvy up the batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a baking sheet and partially bake them, too, about 10 minutes. They will puff and start to brown at the bottom, but will not be set in the middle.
- Combine the two components, using a spatula to carefully move the biscuits onto the fruit filling and continue baking until the filling is bubbly. Cornstarch will thicken the juices only if the liquid comes to the boiling point, marked by bubbling noted between the biscuits. This should take 15+ minutes more.
- Let the cobbler sit for about 10 minutes before scooping out servings. Dig in while it’s warm with a generous serving of vanilla ice cream!
Old-Fashioned Apple Cobbler
A picture perfect apple cobbler with 3 phases of baking to make a delectable filling and tender biscuit topping!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3–4 pounds apples, peeled cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 teaspoons for sprinkling
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Stir sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt together in large bowl. Add apples and mix gently with rubber spatula until evenly coated; add lemon juice and mix to combine. Pour the apples into a 9-inch pie plate or equivalent capacity baking dish. Cover with foil and set aside.
Make the biscuit topping. Whisk flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
Whisk together the melted butter and buttermilk. The cold buttermilk will help congeal small bits of butter, which will help make tender biscuits. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry mixture and mix until just combined with a rubber spatula.
With a greased 1/4 cup cookie scoop or measuring cup, scoop out mounds of batter onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Mix together remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over biscuits. Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove from the oven.
Place the dish of apples onto a foil lined rim baking sheet (this will catch any juices that might overflow the dish). Bake the apples for about 25 minutes, until the apples release their juices. Remove from the oven, remove foil, and carefully arrange the partially baked biscuits over the apples.
Bake for 15 minutes longer or until the apples are tender, the juices are bubbling and biscuits are golden brown.
Cool for about 10 minutes before serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Adapted from ATK.