This is not a traditional Persian recipe, although it borrows some flavor cues from the region. It’s a cobbler. And who doesn’t love cobbler? Sweet, simple, mostly fruit. And if you’re a novice baker (like I am), hard to screw up.
Here, we take everything great about the traditional apple cobbler – the sweet, the tart, the spice – and then build on and amplify those flavors. We trade out simple white sugar for complex dark jaggery. We punch up traditional cinnamon with bright orange blossom water and peppery Grains of Paradise. We deepen the whole affair with just enough – but not too much! – pomegranate molasses and blackstrap molasses. If we get our proportions just right, we intensify, but not overpower. You still taste the apples.
And that’s the filling. The crust is perfect. Dates to add more than sweetness. Nuts to replace some of the flour cut starch while adding richness.
This recipe serves a lot! It will easily feed 12 hungry people. I figure, if you’re going to make it, you might as well really make it. It’s good enough for dessert right out of the oven (with vanilla ice cream, please!) and healthy enough for breakfast the rest of the week (on its own, or with yogurt).
Makes enough for 12 Preheat oven to 350
|5 pounds good apples (see below)||1¼ C chopped dates (try our ready-to-use)|
|¼ C dark jaggery or coconut sugar||1¼ C butter and/or coconut oil|
|¼ C blackstrap molasses||1¼ C rolled oats|
|1/8 C pomegranate molasses||1¼ C flour (I use whole wheat pastry)**|
|2 Tbsp Ceylon cinnamon||1¼ C chopped and/or sliced nuts|
|1 tsp nutmeg||⅓ C dark jaggery or coconut sugar|
|1 tsp grains of paradise||1 tsp good salt|
|1 tsp dry ginger||2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon|
|1 Tbsp orange blossom water||Optional: ½ C chopped dried apricots|
- Start with large baking vessel like a lasagna pan or dutch oven, or two smaller ones. Then, select your apples. I like heirloom russets when I can get them — these are the ones with the rough skins. When I can’t, I ask someone in our produce department what’s good.
- Core and chop the apples. You can chop them into wedges, or chunks. You don’t have to peel them. (It’s easier not to peel, and you also gain the nutrition in the peels).
- Grind Grains of Paradise in a mortar and pestle, pepper or spice grinder.
- Mix all the filling ingredients together in a large baking dish and stir well. Add a few fat pinches of flour to hold everything together.
- Melt the fats. Mix all the crust ingredients together with the melted fats.
- Distribute the crust over the filling. It’s better if you crumble crust over filling with your hands.
- Bake at 350 for an hour. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
*I suppose I should explain the name. To be clear, this is not a traditional Persian recipe. Sure, it uses Persian ingredients, but also oats, cinnamon, blackstrap molasses, and… apples. No, mostly it’s called “Damascus Cobbler” because it sounds kind of catchy. ** While I use whole wheat pastry flour, I know Debra would use einkorn. You can use whatever flour you want.