My M.O. for this year’s seasonal fare was not to make the same old favourites, but to reinvent them with added comfort and ease of execution. I am most definitely a “cook with my hands” kinda gal. I like to feel the different stages with my fingertips – it allows me to engage more with the creative process. As a result so much of my baking during the Corona Era put the Kitchen Aid on sabbatical with sweet treats that involve very little machinery. In hindsight, these recipes play into my fantasy collection of dishes I’l make in my wooden stove or over a fire from my remote cabin in the woods.….…
Our somewhat subdued festivities this week call out for a comforting something sweet that can preferably be as satiating for dessert as for breakfast. My solution…… cobbler. Part crumble, part tart, the feel good fruit factor and made all the better topped with a large dollop of lightly whipped cream or creme fraiche. I added cornmeal (polenta) to the topping for crunch, golden hues and a slight savoury hint to justify the leftovers as a late breakfast option.
Pear and cranberries might just be my favourite combination of seasonal sweetness (I often add a lonely pair to my cranberry sauce). They lend themselves beautifully to the warm festive spices, but feel free to use apples, or in the summer berries and stone fruit with a simple dash of cinnamon, vanilla and lemon instead. (In winter, berry cobbler is delicious with frozen berries. Do not defrost first).
I love to cook this in a 23cm cast iron pan because it makes it the perfect oven to table dessert, or an even better eat-straight-out-of-the-dish treat. But it works just as well in any equivalent size round or oval baking dish.
I hope that however you decide to spend these festive days that you find peace and a way to share with others. Thank you for cooking and baking along with me this year. Your support has been overwhelming and truly helped see me through these darker days, encouraging me to continue creating. Thank you for all that you have given to me in keeping this space alive.
I look forward to sharing more of my kitchen escapades as we cook our way in to a new chapter. Happy Holidays and happy baking.
For the Cornmeal Biscuits
- 100g cold salted butter
- 100g plain flour
- 3 tbsp cornmeal (or polenta)
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp cold buttermilk (or creme fraiche)
- egg wash – 1 egg and 2 tbsp whole milk
- Demerara sugar for sprinkling
For the Filling
- 4 large firm pears
- 150g fresh cranberries (if using frozen do not defrost first)
- juice from 1 orange
- 50g light brown soft sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tso nutmeg
- 30g crystallised ginger (optional)
Make the biscuit topping:
Grate the cold butter on the large holes of a box grater (I prefer this to cutting it into cubes, but if you would rather cube your butter, go right ahead)
Place the grated butter back in the fridge to keep it cold while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.
In a large bowl mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the grated butter, mixing it into the flour lightly with your fingertips until it becomes a crumbly texture with large pea sized lumps of butter.
Add the buttermilk and lightly bring the dough together until it is just mixed. Do not overwork this.
Tip the just mixed dough onto a small-ish rimmed baking sheet and flatten it into a disc with the heel of your hand. You will still see pieces of butter. Cut 9 discs from the dough (about 5-7cm in diameter – a glass or a cutter works well) and place them in the freezer for an hour or two. Note: You will only need 7 for a 23cm pan but its always good to bring the scraps back together and cut a couple more just in case…..
When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 180C (350F).
Quarter, peel, core and slice the pears into 1cm pieces. I do this along the short side not in long lengths as I find they keep their shape a little better this way.
Place them into your baking dish of choice. Scatter the cranberries and the remaining ingredients and toss so that everything is incorporated.
Remove the biscuit discs from the freezer and place on top of the fruit, leaving a little gap in between.
Brush the top of each biscuit with the beaten egg and milk mixture and sprinkle with the Demerara sugar. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the tops are golden and the fruit is bubbling underneath.
Serve with lightly whipped cream or a dollop of creme fraiche.
This recipe was originally created for Crane Cookware and has been made here on repeat without a break since Thanksgiving in my C2 pan. It will definitely be on offer here again this week to accompany marathon lockdown TV time. For a 20% discount on all of their incredible products, simply tip in the code BuildingFeasts at checkout.
Have you made this dish?
Let me know what you think, share your efforts and any tweaks you made to the recipe on Instagram, don’t forget to tag #BuildingFeasts or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org