Updated: Jul 28, 2020
A fresh take on a cozy dessert that proves an old adage: "The fruit that grows together goes together."
Apple-Pear Cobbler with Lemon-Cornmeal Biscuits
You know you have a good dessert when, after spending all day in the kitchen developing it, you still choose to eat another serving instead of a proper dinner. This is a fresh and unexpected take on a New England classic, topped with tender but crunchy cornmeal biscuits, laced with lemon and glazed with cream and sugar. The apples and pears in the filling are fully complementary (remember: fruits that sweeten together can be eaten together!) and really pop with a hit of lemon juice. Serve with vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of fresh cream, or simply by itself.
Notes: The lemon flavors in this dessert make it a natural match for the Rhode Island Greening, Pink Pearl, or Roxbury Russet, while pears go very well with Ribston Pippins. However, you can’t go wrong with any firm-tart apples.
Make-Ahead Tip: You can prepare the fruit through step 1 up to a day ahead of time (you may need to drain the excess juice), but don’t make the biscuits until just before baking.
Equipment: 3- to 4-inch Dutch oven or other deep baking dish with sides at least 3 ½ inches high, or individual ramekins.
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes Hands-On Time: 45 minutes Yield: 8 servings
For the Filling
2 ½ pounds (about 5 large) firm-tart apples (see Apple Notes)
1 ½ pounds (about 3 large) ripe pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons chilled salted butter, cut into ½ -inch cubes
For the Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal (white or yellow, not stone-ground)
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 ½ tablespoons chilled salted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 400°F, and set a rack to the middle position. Peel and core the apples and pears. Cut the apples into ¼ -inch-thick slices and the pears into ½ -inch-thick slices. Put in a Dutch oven. Add the sugar, lemon juice, flour, and butter, and toss to combine. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the topping.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, the 3 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Sprinkle the butter on top and use your fingers to work it in, forming thin flakes. When the dough begins to look like cornmeal, add the 1 cup cream and stir with a fork until the dough just comes together. Gently pat out on a well-floured surface to a ¾ -inch thickness. Use a biscuit cutter or juice glass with a 2- to 3-inch diameter to cut out biscuits, scraping and re-rolling the dough as needed. Chill the biscuits in the refrigerator while the fruit finishes the first round of cooking. Remove the fruit mixture from the oven and give it a quick stir – it should look softer and a little glossy. Arrange the biscuits on top, overlapping slightly in concentric circles, brush with the remaining 2 tablespoons cream, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar. Bake, uncovered, until the top is golden brown and sauce is bubbling, about 35 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes, then serve warm.