Pear and Cranberry Cornmeal Cobbler by Hanna Geller

"Pear and cranberries might just be my favourite combination of late autumn sweetness. They lend themselves beautifully to the warm seasonal 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." 

Hanna Geller of Building Feasts, buildingfeasts.com

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
  • 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 tsp 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.

Hanna Geller of Building Feasts, buildingfeasts.com