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This delicious gluten-free plum cobbler features fresh, sweet plums topped with a biscuity topping made with a blend of masa harina corn flour and white rice flour.
It’s super simple to throw together and makes the most of the delicious flavours of plum season.
Why Make This Gluten-Free Plum Cobbler?
There’s nothing that celebrates the end of summer quite like ripe, blue plums. In Canada and many parts of the United States, these beauties reach their peak ripeness in early August and are available in farmer’s markets, supermarkets and roadside fruit stands everywhere.
I buy them by the basketful for eating fresh or to enjoy in preserves, main course dishes and deep dish fruit desserts such as fruit cobblers and fruit crisps as well as upside down cakes.
Of all the baked summer fruit desserts, cobblers are among the easiest. They’re so easy to make I actually thought the name “cobbler” came from how quickly a person could cobble together the ingredients.
But the history of cobblers goes back much further than that! You’d be surprised to discover the rich history and legends of cobblers, crumbles and pandowdies.
A Masa Harina Dessert
While it’s popular to make plum cobblers with a classic drop biscuit or Bisquick topping, this gluten-free option to the classic cobbler recipe features Maseca (masa harina) corn flour.
I love how the slightly nutty flavour of masa harina makes the perfect complement to the sweet, jammy flavour of fresh plums.
Plus there are other things I love about this plum recipe:
- This fresh plum recipe calls for a lot of plums so is the perfect way to take advantage of all the great deals on fresh fruit sold during plum season.
- This recipe is also a great way to use up any extra masa harina you’ve got on hand if you purchased a bag of Maseca (instant corn flour) to make Guatemalan champurrada cookies, tortillas, pupusas or many any other Latin American dishes. Maseca is the best known commercial brand of corn flour. It’s totally gluten-free and since a 2 kg bag goes really far in the kitchen, this plum cobbler recipe is a great way to enjoy it!
- The pretty purple hue of this dessert makes an impressive finish to a summer meal.
The shining star of this dessert is its fresh summer plums. You can use any variety of plum that’s in season. But I love blue or purple plums as they are exceptionally juicy and sweet.
When cooked, their dusky midnight-blue skin merges with their pale flesh to transform into a brilliant pink magenta sauce that reminds me of sunset, sunrise and sweet pea flowers all rolled into one vivid hue.
Summer plums are so pretty I’m tempted to paint my entire wall in my house that exact colour!
But I’ve satisfied my purple cravings by collecting vintage plates and handwoven textiles from the Cooperativo de Tintoreros de Pinotepa Don Luis near Puerto Escondido, Mexico.
It’s one of the few places in the world that harvests the natural dye known as “royal purple” from the purpura pansa marine snail. But back to the recipe…
Although you can easily use your fave biscuit recipe or Bisquick (get a recipe for homemade Bisquick here) or store-bought pre-made biscuit dough for this cobbler recipe, I went with a mix of white rice flour and masa corn flour.
My Guatemala-born husband likes to eat tortillas with almost every meal which means we’ve always got a bag of Maseca in the house.
Masa harina is a maize dough that comes from ground nixtamalized corn so it’s a great option if you’re following a gluten-free diet.
While most popularly used for main dishes, the sweet, nutty flavour of masa harina corn flour is versatile enough to works perfectly in this plum dessert recipe. To make this biscuit topping you’ll need:
- Masa harina (instant corn flour mix) and/or a mix of white rice flour and masa harina
- Brown sugar
- baking powder
Using masa dough produces a crispy, slightly nutty, biscuity topping. In order to make the biscuit topping lighter and fluffier, I often use a blend of half masa harina and half white rice flour for this recipe.
Step by Step Instructions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Wash and pit plums, cut into slices. Add the butter and plums to a cast iron skillet.
Once the butter has melted, add the sugar (reserve one tablespoon to sprinkle over the topping), lemon juice, cinnamon, salt and freshly grated nutmeg.
Note: If you don’t have an oven-proof skillet just use whatever skillet you have handy. Then transfer the fruit to an 8 by 8 inch baking dish before you add the topping. I like to use a clear Pyrex dish to showcase the beautiful purple colour of the cooked fruit.
Combine the fruit, sugar and spice mixture well.
Cook on medium high heat until mixture starts to boil. Then, lower heat to simmer for 7 minutes.
Mix together cornstarch, masa harina and water until well combined. Stir into the plum mixture and cook for another 2-3 minutes until liquid has thickened.
Remove from heat. While the plums are cooling, prepare the topping.
To Make the Biscuit Topping:
Combine the gluten-free flour (masa harina or a mix of white rice flour and masa harina or your favourite GF flour) in a bowl with the brown sugar, baking powder and salt.
Note: The more masa harina you use, the crispier your topping will be. If you enjoy champurradas cookies (the Guatemalan version of biscotti) then you’ll love using a lot of masa harina in this recipe. If you want more of a fluffy topping, then use more of the white rice flour.
Cut the shortening into the flour mixture finely using two knives or a pastry cutter.
Beat egg slightly, add milk and combine with flour. Shape into a round dough, flatten to 3/4 inch thickness and cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter or an inverted glass.
Place the slices of biscuit dough in pieces on top of the plum mixture. Don’t worry if the pieces overlap or if there are gaps. The fruit mixture will bubble over the edges of the biscuits while cooking and hide any composition flaws. This plum cobbler is the ultimate in stress-free, no-fail desserts.
Sprinkle the reserved white sugar over the top.
Place into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until plum filling is bubbling and biscuit topping is golden brown.
Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream or heavy cream
Tips on Making Gluten-Free Plum Cobbler
- You can use a mix of yellow, purple or red plums – whatever is in season at the market. They’re all delicious!
- Don’t worry if the biscuits don’t cover the topping completely or if they crumble. The beauty of a cobbler is that the cooked fruit creates a sweet sauce that bubbles over and around the topping. It’s the ultimate stress-free dessert!
- If you’re using masa harina rather than gluten-free flour like almond or rice flour, the biscuits will be crispier and have more of a cornmeal-like texture.
- If the plums are very ripe, increase the cooking time in the pan by 3 minutes to reduce any additional juices.
- If you have extra plums, use them up in this easy recipe for plum jam without pectin. It calls for just three ingredients!
- If you have leftover masa harina, use it up in this Guatemalan recipe for pulique, a Mayan chicken stew. Or make some champurradas sesame seed cookies and freeze them.
How to Serve This Plum Dessert
- Serve this plum cobbler plain, topped with vanilla ice-cream or with a generous pour of heavy cream. It’s also delicious with a dessert wine such as a vidal ice wine or a port. You can linger over dessert sipping a sweet drink and enjoy the remaining long, lazy days of summer.
- All cobblers are best served the day they’re baked. But you can save it in the fridge for up to three days and enjoy it cool as well.
- To save time, you can make the topping up to 24 hours in advance. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap tightly and store it in the fridge until ready to use.
Easy Gluten-free Plum Cobbler
- baking dish
- cutting board
- 5 cups ripe plums washed and pitted
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons nutmeg freshly grated
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 1/4 cups masa harina or white rice flour
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup shortening room temperature
- 1 egg room temperature
- 1/2 cup milk
- Preheat over to 375 degrees Farenheit
- Wash and pit plums, slice into pieces lengthwise.
- Add butter and plums to a cast-iron or oven-proof skillet along with white sugar (reserve one tablespoon to sprinkle on the topping), lemon juice, cinnamon, salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Combine well. If you don't have a cast-iron skillet just use a regular skillet to cook the fruit mixture and then transfer it when fully cooked to an 8 x8 inch baking dish.
- Cook on medium-high heat until the fruit mixture comes to a boil, Reduce heat and simmer for 7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir into plum mixture and all it to cook and thicken for five minutes.
- Combine the masa flour (or whatever GF flour you are using), baking powder and brown sugar in a bowl.
- Cut in shortening using two knives or pastry cutter.
- Beat egg in a bowl with a fork and combine with milk.
- Add all at once to dry ingredients.
- Form the dough into a ball and knead lightly. Place on a floured surface and pat or roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick. Using a small glass or cookie cutter, cut the biscuit dough into rounds.
- Place the rounds biscuits on top of the plum mixture in the skillet or baking dish.
- Sprinkle a tablespoon of white sugar over top.
- Place into the pre-heated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until plum filling is bubbling and biscuits are a golden brown.
- Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream or heavy cream.
- You can use a mix of yellow, purple or red plums. They're all delicious!
- Don't worry if the biscuits don't cover the topping completely or if they crumble. The beauty of a cobbler dessert is that the cooked fruit creates a sweet sauce that bubbles over and around the topping. It's the ultimate stress-free dessert!
- If the plums are very ripe, increase the cooking time in the pan by 3 minutes to reduce any additional juices.
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Dividing her time between Canada, Guatemala and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is the founder of A Taste for Travel. Her award-winning travel and food writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, National Geographic Traveler, Fodor’s and 100+ other publications.
Read more about Michele Peterson.
how much milk is needed – it is not listed with ingredients?
Thanks for noticing that Nancy! I’ve updated the recipe to show 1/2 cup milk.
I full basket of plums….and this is a beauty of a recipe….can’t wait!
Amanda Marie Boyle
Amazing dessert! Sometimes I shake it up and use a mix of peaches and plums – my favorite!
Mama Maggie's Kitchen
This looks incredibly delicious. Yum!
This Plum cobbler looks delicious . I have juicy plum in hand. Need to try it this is going to my dessert this weekend.
Your plum cobbler looks delicious. I love the sound of the crunchy topping from the masa harina, can’t wait to try this.
We are surely going to have this Gluten-Free Plum Cobbler for dessert!
This looks wonderful and so pretty! A bonus that it’s gluten free!
This plum cobbler is to die for!! Thanks for all of the great tips and for the yummy recipe!