Keia Mastrianni served this cobbler at the second-annual Fish Pickin’ that she and her husband host on their Old North Farm in Shelby, North Carolina. “People loved it,” says the owner of Milk Glass Pie, noting the biscuit’s riff on a recipe from Claire Saffitz’s What’s For Dessert cookbook.

For home cooks, a few pointers: “Try to use medium-coarse pepper instead of finely ground pepper—it will bring out the black pepper flavor and appearance in the biscuit,” says Mastrianni, who suggests throwing whole peppercorns in a coffee grinder to achieve a coarse grind. “Also, don’t skip the freezing of the biscuits before baking—it will ensure a golden top.” Aka one of the best parts.

Best cooked in the Heather.


For the biscuit:
  • 3 Tbsp. (41g) sugar
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1¼ c. (167g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ c. (30g) fine yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. (6g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp. (2g) salt
  • 1 tsp. (3g) medium-coarse black pepper
  • 6 Tbsp. (93g) butter, frozen
  • 1 c. (240g) heavy cream

For the filing:

  • 6 c. (995g) strawberries, cut
  • ¾ c. (150g) sugar
  • ½ lemon, zested and juiced
  • ¼ vanilla bean
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2½ Tbsp. (25g) tapioca flour

For the egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. (29g) heavy cream
  • Demerara sugar, for sprinkling


In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, lemon zest, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Grate frozen butter into bowl and toss to coat. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour half the heavy cream into the center. Mix gently with a fork, pulling the flour from the sides into the center well until it becomes shaggy and starts to clump together. Add remaining cream and use your hands to distribute the cream evenly. “I like to hold my fingers like a wide-tooth comb and mix with a lifting and let-fall motion, pulling from the bottom of the bowl and gently piling on top of the dough mass until there are no dry spots,” says Mastrianni.

Portion the biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet using a 1½-inch (or #30) scoop. Place baking sheet in the freezer while you make the filling.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place strawberries in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, add the sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla bean. Use your fingers to rub the zest and vanilla bean into the sugar. This will help release the citrus oils and distribute the vanilla bean. Add the salt and tapioca flour and mix well. “I my hands to break up any clumps, making the mixture more homogenous,” she says.

Combine the sugar mixture with the strawberries and toss thoroughly. Immediately add the filling to the pan. Remove portioned biscuits from freezer and arrange on top of strawberries. Whisk egg and cream to make the egg wash. Brush the biscuit tops with egg wash and sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Place the pan onto the parchment-lined baking sheet emptied of portioned biscuits and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 35-45 minutes, until the biscuit tops are golden, and the filling actively bubbles on the sides of the pan. Once baked, allow cobbler to cool at least 2 hours for best results. This will allow the juices to set. You can also dig into it warm, but it will be slightly juicier.

Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, or a drizzle of heavy cream.


Recipe courtesy of Keia Mastrianni. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wehmueller.

March 30, 2023

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