The signs of spring are all around! I’m seeing tender pink blossoms all over; the cat isn’t super glued to me at night anymore; and every morning birdsong starts up just a little bit earlier in my neighbour’s giant oak tree. But winter is by no means done with us, as I was reminded last week when two cold fronts hit the Cape. I very much still want warming comfort food – stews, soups and baked puds. Pud like this blueberry and port cobbler.
Cobbler is a real American grandma dish, supremely easy to make and so very comforting. Like many a recipe that’s been around for a few hundred years, it found its origin in necessity – make what you can with what you have and make it good. And good it is because what’s not to love about warm syrupy fruit with a scone-like topping?
Apples and peaches are a popular cobbler base. But so many other things work well too – apricots, plums, cherries and anything in the berry family. It was indeed blueberries that came to mind when the folks from De Krans asked me to come up with a recipe that incorporates their port-style Premium Cape Ruby. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is all this cobbler asks for. That and a glass of Cape Ruby and I’m ready to rugby tackle the last month of winter.
All you need is…
For the fruit layer
5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
third of a cup of sugar
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
½ tsp powdered cinnamon
zest of one orange, finely grated
third of a cup of water
half a cup De Krans Cape Ruby
For the cobbler biscuit layer
1¾ cups cake flour
pinch of salt
1 Tbs baking powder
half a cup castor sugar
100g cold butter, cut in small blocks
quarter cup cream
third of a cup of milk
1 Tbs brown sugar
Place the blueberries, cornflour, sugar, cinnamon and zest in an ovenproof dish and stir briefly to mix. Pour over the water and Cape Ruby and place in a preheated 180 degree Celsius oven for 10 minutes. While it bakes, quickly whip up the cobbler scone topping. Simply place the flour, salt, baking powder, castor sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until the butter disappears into the flour. (If you don’t have a food processor, do what grandma did and use the tips of your fingers to rub the butter into the flour.)
Whisk together the egg, milk and cream and then add it to the flour. Pulse briefly until it just combines into a dough. Spoon dollops of dough onto the fruit and sprinkle lightly with brown sugar. Place back in the oven and continue baking 20-25 minutes until the cobbler topping is golden brown and cooked through. (To test it, stab the dough with a thin sharp knife or skewer. If it comes out clean, it’s done.) Serve right sway while hot with vanilla ice cream (my fave), thick cream or mascarpone.
- Plums are an excellent alternative to the blueberries in this recipe. They go so well with the port, are readily available and also cheaper than blueberries. Simply remove the stone and quarter the plums.
- If preferred you could replace the cinnamon with a similar quantity All Spice.
- If you’d rather not use alcohol, simply replace it with a similar quantity water and add an extra tablespoon of sugar to the fruit.
About De Krans’ Premium Cape Ruby:
De Krans is synonymous with port and the region of Calitzdorp in the Klein Karoo is indeed known as South Africa’s port capital. Of course nothing produced there may be called port any longer. All sorts of trade rules mean that these days the word ‘port’ is strictly reserved for a specific style of wine coming from a specific region in Portugal. But De Krans’ port-style Cape Ruby is made the way port is made, and contains traditional Portuguese grape varieties: Touriga Nacional, Tinta Barocca, Tinta Amarella en Souzoa. It’s an exquisite deep ruby in colour with loads of red and blue berries on the nose along with hints of violet and cinnamon. Take a sip and you’ll find cherries, ripe plum, spice and chocolate. It’s brilliant served neat at room temperature any time. It’s also a super summer aperitif served over ice with a splash of soda.