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Apricot Cobbler with Cornmeal Biscuits

Although apricots will grow in many regions, George and Anna Zebroff picked the perfect place to grow one of their favorite fruits: a dry climate with plenty of heat during ripening. It's surprisingly difficult to find really good apricots; the best 'cots are grown with little, if any, water, so ask your grower whether he or she irrigates the trees, and, if so, how close to harvest.

My favorite variety of all time is one that George and Anna produce and that we grow at Fairview Gardens : Royal Blenheim. It's an old variety, and it often matures small and not so perfect looking, but the flavor is as rich as that of any you'll find.

This is a charming, old-fashioned dessert-the kind your grandmother made (or should have made). The buttery yellow cornmeal biscuits give the cobbler a rough, craggy top, and the fruit juices spill over the sides. The cornmeal gives the biscuits a little extra crunch, and goes well with the tart apricots.

Apricot Cobbler

2 1/2 pounds apricots, halved, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

Cornmeal Biscuits

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons sugar, plus 2 to 3 tablespoons for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Heavy cream or vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)

Serves 8

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the apricots and sugar in a large bowl and toss well to combine. Transfer to a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake until the fruit begins to bubble, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the biscuits: Combine the flour, cornmeal, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add the cold butter pieces. Using your hands, toss the butter around to coat each piece with the flour mixture-this helps the butter to cut in evenly. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until there are no large lumps and the mixture is the texture of coarse oatmeal. Make a well in the center of the dough and add the cream. Stir, gradually pulling in the dry ingredients from the sides of the bowl, to make a soft, moist dough.

When the fruit begins to bubble, remove the pie pan from the oven and spoon biscuit-size mounds of the dough on top-don't worry if the fruit is covered unevenly. Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle to taste with the 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar. Return the cobbler to the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the biscuits are golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, in a puddle of heavy cream or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if desired.


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