A Cobbler That’s Not Dessert? Oh, Yeah, It is a Very Good Thing.
I’ve run across a couple of recipes for tomato cobbler throughout the years and I’ve always been intrigued. I mean, come on. Doesn’t the thought of biscuits sitting on top of baked tomatoes sound good? I had visions of the bottoms being a little gooey and dumpling-like from the tomato juices, while the tops would be nice and crusty. But I’ve never been particularly impressed by any recipe I’ve seen, so I got my hands on a bunch of nice grape tomatoes and went to work.
I liked the idea of having some of the tomatoes cut in half and others left whole. This way some of the tomatoes would cook down more than others and it would be a little saucy, but also fresh tasting. Wanting to amp up the flavor of the tomatoes, I added scallions, olive oil, tomato vinegar *, a little sugar, flour (for viscosity), salt and pepper. Now, I also added some ajwain *, but this is optional. Ajwain is a seed-like spice used often in Indian, Middle Eastern, and North African cooking, but I use it in other foods, too. It looks very similar to cumin seed, but it’s flavor is closer to oregano, with a little bit of an anise character. It’s also very aromatic and I thought it would be lovely in the tomatoes. As I mentioned, it’s only optional.
With the tomatoes taken care of it was time to concentrate on the biscuits. I rubbed cold pieces of butter into the flour, sugar, salt, and nigella seed * dry ingredients. I then tossed in plenty of shredded aged English cheddar. After adding the heavy cream and using a rubber spatula to fold and gently stir it into the flour it was time to get my hands into the mix. Using the heel of my hand I pushed and rubbed the dough to the edges of the bowl, folded the dough over itself and repeated the process a few times until the dough had mostly come together. After turning it out onto a lightly floured work surface I repeated the rubbing, pushing, and folding procedure a couple more times until the dough had come together.
I rolled it out into a rough square that was a little over a half inch thick. I always cut my biscuits into squares using a bench scraper or large sharp knife. I don’t use round cutters because I don’t like having to reshape the leftover pieces of dough. Those are never as tender and good as the ones that are originally cut. By cutting them into squares I don’t have any leftover dough. You can trim the edges nicely if you’d like, but I don’t. I like the craggy corner edges. Check out my video below for more detailed information on making the biscuits.
After placing the biscuits on top of the tomatoes, I brushed the tops with more cream, sprinkled on flaky salt * and put them in the oven to bake. As anyone who’s followed me knows, I like my baked goods to have plenty of color. No pale biscuits in this house.
Cobbler is ready to bake.
As these were baking, the aroma was killing me. Between the cheese and all the good stuff going on with the tomatoes, I just knew this was going to be good. It was hard to wait a little while before serving this up, but it would have scalded our mouths if I didn’t give it a 10 or 15 minute rest when it came out of the oven. I sprinkled on some snipped fresh chives and we dug in. Oh, man, was this delicious. It was exactly as I’d hoped. Those biscuits were good and crisp with beautiful layers, but the bottoms had soaked up some of the tomato juices and were luscious. So, a tomato cobbler is now off my bucket list, but will be returning soon. My family concurs.