My favorite DJ on WFMU once told a story about the time she spun records at the wedding of a friend who insisted that she play songs from a prescribed playlist only and refrain from taking requests. But as these things often go, one of the bridesmaids got soused and asked the DJ repeatedly to please play some James Brown, to which the DJ replied that she had none of his albums on hand. The desperate bridesmaid made a last attempt, screeching “Come on–you really don’t have any James Brown? Not even for emergencies?!”
It’s true: some emergencies call for the Godfather of Soul. Others call for more humble–yet still soulful–pleasures, like sour cherry cobbler.
I had myself a little emergency situation this past Saturday at my moving-out yard sale. Two hours in, and a mere fifty bucks richer, the skies opened up and a summer storm rained me out. My morning help had left to tend to trifles like lawn-cutting and dissertation-writing, and I found myself in the unenviable position of trying desperately to save a bunch of crap I wanted to get rid of in the first place.
Enter the across-the-street neighbor with a plastic tarp with which to cover the final few items that didn’t fit into plastic tubs.
Enter two other friends, the afternoon shift, with fixings for mimosas and helping hands to shuttle my belongings to the covered porch.
Enter a sour cherry cobbler, baked the night before, to nourish the rescuers.
All of your emergency situations will be thus easily dispensed with, if only you have sour cherry cobbler–heck, any summer fruit cobbler–at the ready.
Well, that, or a James Brown record.
Sour Cherry Cobbler for Emergencies
1) Filling, via Epicurious
4 cups sour cherries, picked over, rinsed, and drained well
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Working over a bowl pit the cherries, discarding the pits and reserving the cherries and any juices in the bowl.
Add to the cherries the cornstarch, 2/3 cups of the sugar, the lemon juice, and almond extract. Stir, and set aside.
2) Topping, via Alice Waters’s recipe for Sweet Cream Biscuits from The Art of Simple Food
1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
4 t sugar
2 t baking powder
6 T (3/4 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
Cut butter into the flour with your fingers or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
Measure 3/4 cup heavy cream. Remove 1 T and set aside. Lightly stir in the remainder of the cream with a fork until the mixture just comes together. Lightly knead the dough a couple of times in the bowl, turn out on a lightly floured board, and roll out about 3/4 think. Cut into circles or squares (I like the square shape, just to be different), re-rolling the scraps if necessary.
3) Putting it all together:
Pour the cherry mixture into a 2-3 qt. baking dish.
Carefully lay the biscuit circles or squares, depending, on top of the cherries, in a pattern that pleases you.
Brush the tops with the tablespoon of heavy cream and sprinkle a generous amount of demerara (about 2 T) on top before placing it into the oven.
Bake for about 30-40 mins at 375, until the biscuit top is golden and the sugar goes all crystallized. Serve with lots of freshly whipped cream, to which you’ve added a teaspoon or so of vanilla and sugar to your liking. Feed to heroes of all stripes, small children, lovers, or perhaps beloved pets.