A wonderful way to show off the season’s bounty of fruit is in a baked dessert. A juicy cobbler, slump, or grunt is the perfect foil for fresh berries and peaches.
Or, imagine a bright weekend morning on the porch eating a square of a fresh fruit buckle. What could be better than a crisp fall evening with an apple pandowdy, brown betty, or a pear & cranberry crisp to take away that evening chill?
Cobblers are deep dish fruit desserts with thick top crusts. Sometimes they’re made with drop biscuits or crumb topping. Others are made with a crust covering the entire fruit filling. Perhaps the name cobbler came from the top being cobbled together or that the top looks like cobblestones.
Either way, cobblers are a simple and delicious way to use ripe fruits. If you substitute a crumb topping for the biscuit or crust, you will have a crisp, or a crumble if you are British. A wonderful variation is a clafouti, a French cobbler with the addition of custard over the fruit.
Grunts and Slumps, Brambles and Crumples
A grunt, slump, or even a bramble is a charming treat generally made with berries. Very similar to a cobbler, these desserts are generally cooked on the stove, causing an unusual grunting sound while cooking. A classic American dessert, there is even a mention of an apple slump in “Little Women”.
If you prefer a more cake-like fruit dessert, try a buckle or a crumple. These cakes are made with a large quantity of fruit in the batter and are topped with streusel, a crumb topping made with butter, flour and sugar. The cake has a buckled appearance when baked earning its unusual name.
And there’s no better way to show off autumn’s bounty of apples than in a pandowdy. A variation of on the cobbler, this dessert is sweetened with molasses. The biscuit topping is broken up and pushed down into the fruit during baking. Its “dowdy” look is the reason for it quaint name. But, the rich apple taste is anything but dowdy.
Gingered Summer Berry Grunt with Lemon Thyme
I love to pour some rich “top-cream” over these dumplings at the table but you can try fat-free half and half if you are so inclined. I like to cook this on the stovetop in a heavy straight-sided enamel sauté pan so I can hear the grunting of the juices, but you must have a lid or some heavy aluminum to cover the dish during the cooking so the dumpling dough will cook. If you can find lemon thyme at the market it adds a nice accent flavor. Serves 8.
Summer Berry Grunt With Ginger And Lemon
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 3 pints fresh berries (blueberries, black berries and/or raspberries)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme leaves
- salt and pepper as needed
- vanilla ice cream, sour cream or top cream (the heavy cream that forms on the top of fresh milk) for drizzling
- Make cinnamon sugar: Stir together 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of salt and pepper in a small bowl; set aside.
- Make dumplings by making a standard drop biscuit dough: Whisk together flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, the baking powder, a pinch of salt, and the ginger in a medium bowl. Stir together milk and butter in a small bowl. Stir milk-butter mixture into the flour mixture. Set batter aside.
- For the berry mixture and finishing: Place ¾ cup sugar, fresh ginger, lemon juice and zest and lemon thyme and a small pinch of salt and pepper in the skillet with 2 tablespoons water and bring to a boil.
- Add berries and stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil and top with 8 equal portions of drop biscuit dough and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mix.
- Cover the pan tightly and simmer over medium heat until dumplings are cooked through and juices have thickened into a rich sauce. 20-30 minutes. Be careful not to burn the bottom. Reduce heat during cooking if needed.
- Serve warm with cream of choice garnish with lemon thyme sprigs