Dewberries, you say? Let’s do them for dessertPublished 12:01am Saturday, April 14, 2012
Dewberries are in and that means it is really spring!
Dewberries are a type of trailing blackberry that grows on long canes along fencerows and trellises. Some people find them superior to all other blackberries. My husband has been bringing me baskets of these dewberries from our pastures and fencerows. They are very good for you, but I do prefer them with some whipped cream to relieve the tartness.
In doing some research on berries, I learned the colonial settlers were unfamiliar with agriculture
and did not recognize some of the wild berries growing in their new homeland. They found wild strawberries and raspberries, and were familiar with them. They also found wild blueberries, which were similar to the European bilberry (a smaller berry with a purple center). It was the Native Americans who showed the settlers how to use them. The Indians ate them fresh and cooked. The most useful trick the Indians taught the setters was how to dry berries for later use. They would dry them over a fire or in the sun. Then they would add the dried berries to make puddings, breads and soups. Once the settlers knew how to use the berry plants, they harvested the woodlands and marshes and also began planting their gardens with berry plants. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had extensive plantings of berries in their gardens.
I did this dessert from April 2012’s, ‘Bon Appétit’ at a luncheon recently, and it was just the perfect ending to a meal. Not so filling, and the berries were so good. You could use dewberries here also.
For the meringue:
2 large egg whites
2/3 cup sugar
1 Vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 Tbsp. honey
Berries and Assembly
2 cups mixed berries (such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries)
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Vanilla ice cream
Fresh mint leaves
Meringue: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites on medium-high speed in a medium bowl, until white and foamy. With mixer running, gradually add sugar by tablespoonfuls, beating until meringue is stiff and glossy. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. Add honey and continue to beat until seeds are evenly dispersed and no streaks of honey remain. Droop meringue by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake until dry and slightly golden, about two hours. Let meringues cool on sheet (they will crisp as they cool).
Berries and assembly: Combine berries, honey, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for at least an hour to allow juices to form.
Coarsely crumble meringues. Divide berries and juices among small bowl. Scoop vanilla ice cream into each bowl. Top with crumbles meringues. Garnish with mint.
From the cookbook, The New Southern Garden Cookbook, by Sheri Castle, I did this recipe with dewberries. This dewberry roll is an old recipe according to Mrs. Castle, and is a takeoff of a cobbler but this fruit is wrapped up like a jellyroll. My mistake was not letting the butter be cold enough, and it was hard to roll. So, just beware!
Makes 8 servings
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes and chilled
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening or lard
1 large egg
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 cups fresh dewberries or other blackberries
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water, for egg wash
Ice cream or whipped cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter cubes and drop the shortening in bits over the flour mixture and toss to coat. Use your fingertips to work them in until the pieces are the size of garden peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk, pour over the flour mixture, and stir with a fork or your fingertips until the dough comes together.
Pour the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment and gently knead until the dough is smooth, about five turns. Roll or pat the dough into a rectangle that is ½-inch thick, turned so one of the long sides is at the bottom. Spread the soft butter evenly over the dough. Scatter the berries over the butter, leaving the bottom 2-inches bare. Sprinkle the sugar over the berries. Starting at the top, roll up the dough toward you, making sure it is tight enough to hold the berries in place. It should look like a jellyroll. Pinch the seam and the ends closed. Transfer the roll (still on the parchment) to a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the top and the sides with the egg wash.
Bake until the pastry is browned and any escaped juices are bubbling, about 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before slicing and serving with ice cream or whipped cream.