Stewed fruit topped with a number of small rounds of thick, sweet scone pastry, baked.
The name 'cobbler' for this type of dish seems to be of American origin, where it has appeared in several forms. It is mentioned in John Russell Bartlett's 1859 'Glossary of words and phrases, usually regarded as peculiar to the United States' as being a Pennsylvania name for 'Apple Slump', a form of pie made with bread-dough pastry. It turns up in Mark Twain's 'Tramp Abroad' of 1880; "I have..made out a little bill of fare..as follows:..Peach cobbler, Southern style.", but the version there may be more similar to a crumble, it may be an ordinary plain paste top-crust pie or use an all-over scone-type dough topping, as in the Myrtle Reed receipt below.
The form with a topping of individual scone rounds seems to be distinctively English, and very modern. It is known anecdotally to the 1970's, but the earliest cookbook reference we can find is in the Marks and Spencer's 'St.Michael Cookbook' by Jackie Burrow, Mary Reynolds and Elizabeth Seldon of 1980.
Original Receipt in 'The Myrtle Reed Cook Book' New York, 1905;
Fill a deep buttered baking-dish with fresh or stewed fruit - apples, peaches, apricots, rhubarb, plums, or gooseberries being commonly used--and cover with a crust made as follows: Sift together two cupfuls of flour and two teaspoonfuls of baking-powder. Rub into it half a cupful of butter and add one egg beaten with a cupful of milk.
Spread over the fruit which has been previously sweetened to taste and bake until the crust is done. Serve either hot or cold with cream or any preferred sauce.
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