A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blackberry Slump

It's berry time again! As we headed over the Santa Cruz Mountains to our go-to you-pick berry patch, we tried to remember when it was that we made this trip last year. Of course I track dates and time by the food I ate or the recipes I made, so I looked back in the blog. Sure enough, it was the same weekend last year that we hauled home many pounds of blackberries and strawberries. The Daiquiris,  Blackberry Ice Cream and Blackberry Swirl Frozen Yogurt posts tell the tale of last year's excursion.

So what to make with this year's bounty? A slump, of course. What the heck is a slump?! In short, it's stove top fruit dumplings. Unlike a cobbler or a grunt (or other strangely-named fruit desserts), a slump is made on the stove top. It's lovely not to have to turn on the oven in the summer! I like to use a big cast iron pan with a heavy lid. The fruit goes in the pot and a biscuit-mixture is dropped on top of the fruit. The pan lid goes on and the magic happens: the fruit bubbles away while the biscuits steam, making fluffy, fruit-covered dumplings.   You can use whatever berry you have -- blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries -- or other fruit (stone fruit works great). Sugar amounts may have to be altered for different types of fruit.  It's a brilliant idea. And absolutely delicious.

This year we had the good fortune of making the tail end of the olallieberry harvest, as well as boysenberries and strawberries. Upon arriving home, I used the most squished berries to make this Blackberry Slump. Bill wasted no time blending up an olallieberry daiquiri, but that's a recipe for another day.


If you are not sure of the difference between an olallieberry and a boysenberry, here's a photo: 

The boysenbery is a cross between a blackberry, a raspberry and a loganberry. An olallieberry is a cross between a youngberry and a loganberry. Hmmm... still not clear? Well, then. In my opinion, the olallieberry has a stronger berry flavor, and is less juicy. The boysenberries got more squished on their trip back to our house, but they are incredibly sweet and tasty. We missed peak olallieberry season -- I guess it's at the end of June, but we still managed to pick a couple pounds of them. 

fluffy dumplings in blackberry sauce, a side of whipped cream

Blackberry Slump

For biscuits:
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk

For fruit:
4 cups berries (or other fruit, fresh or frozen, thawed)
1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
juice of an orange (about 1/4 cup)
1 long strip of orange peel

1. Make the biscuit dough: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. 
2. Cut butter into dry ingredients with a pastry cutter or your clean fingers (I prefer to rub the butter into the flour by hand, making pea-sized pieces of butter in the flour). 
3. Add buttermilk to this mixture, stirring gently to incorporate and gathering the loose dough up with floured hands to form a ball. Do not over mix -- the dough should be floppy.  
4. Divide the dough into 6 or 7 dumplings. 
5. In a lidded pot or pan with tall sides, heat the berries (or other fruit) with the sugar, spices, and juice. Also add the orange peel.
6. When the fruit starts to bubble, it's time to add the dumplings. Place the dumplings on top of the fruit. It will settle into the fruit, but won't be submerged.
7. Cover the slump. Cook without peeking for 20 minutes. 
8. When serving, you can discard the orange peel, or leave it -- it will be very soft.

dumplings in the blackberry mixture

Enjoy dumplings covered with the hot fruit, topped with whipped cream or ice cream. Yum!

Proof of picking!

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