Yes. I made both. I'm glad I did. One was a big pain in the butt, but a big success. One was easy, but disappointing. Which was which? Read on and find out. But first, the Johnny Cake Cobbler video is here and the Raspberry-Fig Crostata recipe is here. I couldn't find a copy of the Cobbler recipe online. Did anyone else have any luck?
Let's talk about the Crostata first. It was delicious, but also a lot of work. First of all, I had a hard time finding fresh figs. According to the produce manager at Wegman's, the fig season is almost over. They've been ordering figs, but none show up. I ended up finding them (for $4.99/lb) at Whole Foods in DC near my workplace. They were beautiful, though.
The dough recipe was a little strange. It called for grinding the toasted almonds and sesame seeds in the food processor. But then you were supposed to beat the butter into the dry ingredients with a stand mixer.
Why couldn't we have just mixed the whole thing in the food processor? It turned into a sticky, difficult-to-work-with, mess anyway. At least there would've been fewer dishes. Just in case you're keeping track: that's a nonstick frying pan to toast the almonds and sesame, the food processor, the stand mixer and bowl. The dishes are piling up, and we haven't even started the filling yet! Just for the record, I really do like the crust. I think I'll streamline the process next time, though. Divide the dough into a "smaller half" and a "larger half" and put them in the refrigerator to chill.
Moving on, I rinsed the fruit and quartered the figs. I put half the raspberries and figs in a pot along with the sugars, flour, butter and lemon zest. You cook it down and then add the reserved fruit. This makes the texture particularly interesting. I hate it when pies have a "baby-food" texture. I like a little contrast.
You roll out the "smaller half" of the dough and cut it into strips. This stuff was awful to roll. It's the consistency of soft cookie dough. I put a huge amount of flour on the parchment and put a piece of plastic wrap over top of the dough. Otherwise, it just stuck to my pin. I put the strips in the freezer, so they'd be firm enough to pull apart.
Let's not talk about my bottom layer. I will tell you that it's easy to piece it together in the pan. And I'll also say that once the filling is in, you can't see how awful the crust looked. It'll be our secret.
Thanks to my frozen strips the lattice went better. Nice, right?
A 30-minute rest in the fridge, 50 minutes in a 350°F oven, and 2 hours to cool, and it was ready to slice! Don't rush the cooling. Several TWDers commented that the filling oozed out if it was cut too soon. I thought it was very tasty. Worth the work? Maybe if you really like raspberries and figs. Otherwise, you might be better off with one of the other fruit suggestions. Did I mention the dishes? Here's my sink, post-crostata production.
The next night I made the Johnny-Cake Cobbler. It couldn't have been easier. Cut up the fruit (I used 5 cups of peaches and 1 cup of blueberries), cook it in a skillet until it gave up some of its juice, and spoon the fruit into 5 ramekins.
We let them cool a bit and served them with vanilla ice cream. They were "meh." How could that be? Good fruit, yummy carbs, ice cream(!), and still just okay—not awesome? My husband and I talked about it. Here's what we think.
These two recipes are both about proportions. The Crostata had a really rich, flavorful filling sandwiched between two thin layers of really tasty crust. The Cobbler had a thin layer of flavorful filling that was overwhelmed by too much biscuit topping. We really liked the biscuit , but I think it needed at least 8 cups of fruit (maybe 10 cups?) to balance it out. What did you guys think of these recipes? Were they worth the effort?