If you’re anything like me, then you are salivating after reading the title of this post. There are few things more delicious than desserts comprised of warm fruit and some sort of pastry or streusel!
There are a lot of different ways to combine these. There’s pie, of course, which is pretty easy to identify, but then there are a whole bunch of other desserts that are more difficult to tell apart: Cobblers, crisps, crumbles, buckles, grunts, slumps, and Brown Betties.
What makes these desserts similar and what makes them distinct?
All of these desserts contain fruit, are easy to make, and are popular more for their flavors than their fancy appearances.
True cobblers are baked desserts that consist of fruit covered with a biscuit topping. Traditionally, the biscuit topping is dropped onto the fruit in small mounds, giving it the appearance of a cobbled road (hence the name cobbler).
Some cooks enclose their cobblers in the biscuit crust, but the drop biscuit variety is much more common. In an effort to save time, many cooks today will top fruit with a muffin or cake batter and call it a cobbler. While still very tasty, these desserts don’t meet the traditional definition of a cobbler.
Crisps and crumbles
Crisps and crumbles are baked dishes of fruit that are covered with streusel-like toppings. Customarily, crisps have a topping that contains oats (and becomes crisp when it bakes), but crumbles have a topping that does not contain oats.
Buckles are baked desserts of fruit and cake. The cake batter is placed into the pan first and then topped with fruit or the fruit is mixed into the batter. Either way, the cake rises around the fruit as it bakes and the weight of the fruit causes the dessert to buckle inwards. Some cooks top their buckles with streusel, but this is optional. Buckles were once made almost exclusively with blueberries, but numerous fruits are used now.
Grunts and slumps
Grunts and slumps are cobblers that are covered and cooked over a heat source (stovetop, camp fire, etc.) instead of baked. Historians believe that the English colonists in New England first applied the moniker “slump” to this dessert because it slumps when you scoop it onto a plate and that they applied the moniker “grunt” because the hot, bubbling fruit makes a grunting sound as it stews around the biscuit topping.
Brown Betties are baked dishes of fruit and buttery crumbs. They are similar to crumbles, but their fruit is baked between layers of crumbs. Betties are traditionally prepared with apples.
As I was reading about these desserts, I came across two additional ones that share similarities to those described above.
Pandowdy – A deep-dish dessert that combines fruit and a brittle biscuit topping. The biscuit topping is broken apart during baking and pushed down into the fruit so the juices rise through it. Some cooks prepare a variation where the biscuit topping is baked beneath the fruit and the dessert is inverted before serving. Though numerous fruits can be used, pandowdies are typically prepared with apples sweetened with molasses or brown sugar.
Sonker – A deep-dish pie native to North Carolina. Sonkers are traditionally prepared in rectangular pans and can be made out of a variety of fruits and even some veggies (such as sweet potato). Many families serve sonkers with a dip made of thickened milk that is flavored with vanilla extract or spices (e.g., cinnamon, allspice).
Do you prefer one of these desserts over the others? Why do you prefer it?
Shared at the following: