Because we wanted to use the freshest just-picked berries, we actually bumped up the treats a day and he brought this into the office today. Usually when I think of cobbler, it is a hot bubbly layer of berries that are topped off with a biscuit dough-like crust. The version from this book is fairly different though, so maybe it is regional?
Instead of the fruit being on the bottom, a golden batter is spooned into the baking pan first. The preparation was interesting as the eggs where beaten with the sugar first, instead of the fat, then the butter was mixed in with a few splashes of milk. Once done and in the pan, we moved onto the berries, which were coated in a hot syrup-y mixture of bright lemon juice, vanilla, a touch of almond extract and water. The original recipe actually opted for using liquor (using sherry, brandy or bourbon) with the sugar to create the syrup, but Jeff wasn't too keen on using alcohol for a work treat on the off chance people couldn't have it. If this is an option you would like to explore, remove two tablespoons of milk from the recipe, along with the lemon juice, vanilla, almond extract and water - replace them with half cup liquor of choice and melt that into the sugar.
The hot sticky berries were then poured over the raw batter, then immediately placed into the oven to bake. This was definitely a fun one to watch in the oven - as the liquid-y batter bubbled up, it slowly began to envelop the berries, one by one, leaving you with a lovely marbled effect as the juices from the red berries stained the cake. We used small to medium berries and decided to leave them whole - if you wish to make this and have to use especially large strawberries, I do suggest at least halving them first.
While it wasn't exactly what I was expecting when Jeff said cobbler, what we ended up with was a fantastically moist and homey cake that was studded with enticing strawberries, exuding their sticky sweetness throughout the crumb. Jeff and I were eager to find out what the lemon, vanilla and almond would bring, instead of using the more potent liquor - their supporting role was noticed and their subtle tones matched well, but still let our strawberries be the star. I did make sure to tell Jeff if they wanted the best experience, to be sure to let them know that a quick 10 or 15 seconds in the microwave to warm their pieces up ever-so-slightly would be nice. Of course, if you wanted to be extra decadent, a heaping dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of your best vanilla ice cream would finish this off with a bang!