Maple-sweetened fruit crowned with tender gluten-free, whole-grain biscuits treads the line between nourishing and decadent in this apple rhubarb cobbler. Thanks to Coombs Family Farms for sponsoring this post!
I have a weakness for warm, rustic fruit desserts, especially ones crowned with these cobbler biscuits. The base recipe comes from my cookbook Alternative Baker and was nearly nixed from the book during testing when I couldn’t get the biscuits right. They ranged from tight, meatball-like wads of dough to unsightly batter that resembled human excrement (that particular version was dubbed “poop cobbler”). My friend Caterina came to the rescue with the quirky technique of heating the dairy for the biscuits, which gives them an instant lift, and since then I’ve made cobblers with nearly every fruit and alternative flour in existence, including peaches with teff flour, berries with amaranth flour, and this Blueberry Plum Cobbler with Corn Flour Biscuits. Call me crazy for cobbler.
With cobbler, you have a few things working against you. The steam from the fruit adds moisture to the biscuits, which can make their bottoms soggy. It’s important to have a high enough oven temperature to brown the tops of the biscuits before the middles become overcooked. You need to make sure the fruit thickens adequately so you don’t end up with a watery mess, but not so much that you lose the luscious juice of stewed fruit.
But when cobbler goes right, it’s an ultra-satisfying and relatively simple dessert, fruit and biscuits baked together into a gooey pan of dessert deliciousness, without the muss and fuss of a pesky pie. And there’s more wiggle room when it comes to fruit, which can vary in water content, because you don’t need to worry about a soggy bottom crust.
One thing that doesn’t vary in water content is maple syrup, which gets boiled until it reaches a Brix level of 66-68 (that’s maple speak for the ratio of sugar to liquid). My last post details the process of making maple syrup, which I got to experience firsthand in New England last month, as well as a recipe for maple sugar ice cream that pairs perfectly with this dessert.
The centuries-old technique of boiling maple sap into syrup was discovered by people indigenous to North America. Though I tend to think of maple as a fall flavoring, spring is actually sugaring season. Maple trees store starches in their trunks during the fall and winter, and those starches convert to sugar during late winter and early spring. When the temperatures warm in early spring, the sap starts flowing in the trees and is then collected and turned into syrup.
While maple is robust enough to stand up to fall flavors – baking spices, root vegetables, winter squash, and fruit such as apples, pears, and figs – it has a softer edge that flatters more delicate spring flavors too. Berries, rhubarb, and citrus are all happy matches with maple.
This apple rhubarb cobbler works well in the spring when wintered over apples meet peak rhubarb season. The two make a match as classic as strawberry-rhubarb. Apples add mild sweetness and body while rhubarb lends its characteristic blush and tang. Vanilla paste and a good grating of fresh ginger add further oomph to the filling, which is sweetened with a pour of earthy maple syrup. The grade you use is up to you. Coombs Grade A Amber Color Rich Taste has a softer flavor that lets the rhubarb and ginger sing, where their Grade A Dark Color Robust Taste adds a bit more earthy depth, which is also delicious. I tested this recipe 5 times to get it just right, with both grades of syrup, and they both work beautifully.
Free of refined sugar save for a tiny sprinkle atop the biscuits, this dessert walks the line between decadent and nutritious. Maple syrup is rich with trace minerals (calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron) and vitamins (B2, B5, niacin, and folic acid). There’s plenty of good stuff from the apples and rhubarb too, and the biscuits are primarily whole grain flours. Oat flour brings a warm whole wheatiness to the biscuits, sweet rice creates good consistency, and millet lends suppleness. Butter, cream, and yogurt make them rich and delicate, a lovely foil for the bright fruit.
And no fruit dessert is complete without a big scoop of luscious ice cream melting over the top. Top bowls of gooey cobbler and tender biscuits with a big scoop of maple sugar ice cream and prepare to be transported to maple heaven.
*Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Instagram,Facebook, or Pinterest, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this maple-sweetened apple rhubarb cobbler, I’d love to see! Tag your Instagram snaps @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
- 1 ¼ pounds apples, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
- 1 ¼ pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
- ¾ cup (175 ml) Coombs Family Farms Organic Maple Syrup (any grade)
- 2 tablespoons (15 g) cornstarch or tapioca starch
- 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ⅔ cup (70 g) GF oat flour
- ½ cup (80 g) sweet white rice flour
- ⅓ cup (45 g) millet flour
- ¼ cup (35 g) maple sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 6 tablespoons (85 g) cold, unsalted butter, in 1⁄4" (6 mm) dice
- 4 tablespoons (60 ml) heavy cream, plus 1 tbsp (15 ml) for brushing the biscuits
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) plain, whole-milk yogurt
- 1 tablespoon granulated cane sugar, for sprinkling the biscuits (optional)
- Maple Sugar Ice Cream, for serving (or storebought vanilla ice cream)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400ºF.
- To make the filling, combine the apples and rhubarb in a very large bowl and add the maple syrup, cornstarch, ginger, vanilla, and salt. Gently toss to coat the fruit evenly, then transfer to an 8 by 10-inch baking pan, 9-inch square pan, or 10-inch ovenproof skillet with at least 2-inch high sides. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips, and slide into the oven to bake until the fruit just starts to bubble, 20-25 minutes.
- To make the biscuits, in a large bowl, combine the oat, sweet rice, and millet flours with the maple sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and work in with a pastry blender or your fingertips until broken down into the size of small peas. Chill until needed, about 10 minutes.
- Have the 1 tablespoon cream, the sugar, and a pastry brush (or scrunched-up paper towel) nearby.
- When the fruit is nearly done, combine the yogurt and remaining 4 tablespoons cream in a small saucepan. Place over a medium flame and heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture is hot and steamy, 1–2 minutes (don’t let it boil or it might separate). Quickly but gently stir the hot dairy into the butter/flour mixture, stirring just until combined, evenly moistened and no floury bits remain; do not overstir. Remove the fruit from the oven, give it a gentle stir to redistribute, then use a tablespoon to drop the batter onto the fruit, creating 8–12 rough mounds. Immediately dab and brush the tops with the cream and sprinkle with the sugar.
- Bake the cobbler until the biscuits are deep golden brown on top and the fruit is bubbling thickly, 20-30 more minutes. Let the cobbler cool for at least 10 minutes to allow the fruit to thicken up and the biscuits to finish baking from residual heat. Scoop into bowls and serve warm, topped with maple sugar or vanilla ice cream. The cobbler is best within a few hours of baking, but leftovers can be refrigerated airtight for up to 3 days. Reheat before serving.