Sunday, August 2, 2009

Fruit Desserts!

This week, I've decided to go against my "one recipe a week" plan and do another themed week of recipes. Denny has been telling me for months that one recipe a week just isn't enough. So, Den, here you go, a full week of desserts! How does that sound?
So, wait, let me back up a little and I'll tell you the flight of ideas and how I got here......

I recently cooked dinner for Katie and Anthony and Mike and Danielle. When I asked Anthony what his favorite dessert is, he told me "apple or peach cobbler, hands down." Then I began to think of all the old fashioned fruit desserts with the fun names and I wondered if there were any differences between them. So, of course, I launched into research mode.
First, let me tell you, I had no idea that there are so many variations! It was all quite a lot to take in. Cobblers and pan dowdies, grunts and slumps, crisps and crumbles, buckles and brown betties. Who knew there were so many? Are they all the same thing? And how did they get those quirky fun names? What makes a cobbler a cobbler? Is a buckle the same thing as a slump? What's the difference between a crisp and a crumble? How is a brown betty different from a pan dowdy? These are the questions that I wanted to answer. Come to think of it, the only time I ever heard of a pan dowdy was a lyric from the old Dinah Shore song that my friend, Nora, loves to sing: "Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy makes your eyes light up and your tummy say Howdy". She always cracks me up when she sings that! But anyway....
I discovered that most of these dishes are very similar in that they're usually some sort of cooked spiced fruit with a crust or a topping. The thing that sets them apart from one another usually has to do with the way they're assembled and also the way they're cooked.
The crust is another distinguishing factor which varies from one dish to another. Sometimes it's similar to a traditional pie crust, while other times it's more of a sweet biscuit topping, similar to a scone. It can either be on the bottom, on the top, or layered throughout the dish. The fruit is either baked in the oven or cooked in a skillet, or sometimes both.
Here's a list of all the fruit desserts I found, along with their defining characteristics:

Usually a dessert consisting of a fruit filling poured into a large baking dish over a batter that rises through when baking. The batter forms as a dumpling within the cobbler as well as a crust for the top.

Crisps and Crumbles:
A "Crisp" in the United States or a "Crumble" as it is known in the United Kingdom is a dessert consisting of baked fruit topped with a crispy crumb crust. The topping is usually made of butter, flour, brown sugar, sometimes oats and/or nuts, and is rolled together so that it resembles breadcrumbs.

Grunts and Slumps:
These are desserts consisting of stewed fruits (usually berries) with light and fluffy dumplings on top. They're "baked" in a skillet on top of the stove instead of in the oven.

Brown Betties:
Usually consists of alternating layers of fruit and sweetened buttered bread crumbs or crackers, often with a sauce. They have a consistency sort of like a cross between a crisp and a bread pudding.

This is more like a coffee cake than a fruit pie. The cake rises and falls and "buckles" as it bakes, causing the filling to swirl through the cake.

Pan Dowdies:
These have fruit on the bottom and pie crusts on top which are broken up and dunked in the fruit filling after baking.

The consistent thing about all of them is that they're easy and delicious and they all scream to be served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or freshly whipped cream on top. Sounds like heaven, doesn't it? Hopefully you'll enjoy this week's dessert theme and give them a try!
I know you'll love 'em!

1 comment:

Pop Chef said...

Thanks for sharing. The crust seems to be a vital part of a dish that can’t be replaced. Nice post.