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Where I live, in New York City, the farmers' markets have been graced by the presence of local strawberries for several weeks now, signaling that we're soon to be bombarded with cherries, blueberries, raspberries, plums, and peaches (just to name a few) in rapid succession. Speaking as a pastry chef who loves working with fruit more than any other ingredient, I'm about to hit the jackpot.
Most people expect me to make pie during these balmy months, a logical vehicle for all that great summer fruit. Unfortunately, in the hot, muggy days of summer, pie is often the least practical dessert to make. The dough starts to melt, rolling it becomes a sticky mess, and suddenly you're stuck with a tough and disfigured crust unworthy of the delicious juicy filling within. Also, it's hardly fair to be doing all that work while everyone else is outside having fun.
Cobbler is the perfect summer alternative to pie. The dough, unlike pie crust, requires no cut butter, no chilling, no chanting incantations at the door of the oven. It takes just minutes to put together, the dough can made and chilled in advance, and it's ready to eat right out of the oven. In fact, that's the best way to eat it.
To make amazing cream biscuits, all you need to know is a proper technique that enforces this cardinal rule: never overwork the dough. Click through this slideshow for step-by-step pointers that embrace this rule from mixing to cutting and baking that delivers biscuits that are tender on the inside and crispy on the outside every single time. They're perfect atop a juicy cobbler, or hot out of the oven with a schmeer of salted butter and preserves. Once you're familiar with the technique, check out my grandmother's (Maine-approved) blueberry cobbler recipe.