• Crumble - A crumble is probably the most familiar to most of us. It's simply fresh fruit with a streusel-like topping that gets baked until the fruit is cooked. The streusel is usually a simple mix of oatmeal, brown sugar, butter, and spices. An actual crisp, as in apple crisp or strawberry crisp, is the same idea but with no oats in the topping. This makes the topping more like a crumbled cookie or pie crust.
• Cobbler - Cobblers add a biscuit topping to the fresh fruit. The biscuits are usually dropped onto the fruit in small rounds, giving it the appearance of a cobbled road and hence the name. Cobblers can also be made with cake batter or cookie dough instead of biscuit and are equally tasty.
• Grunt - Grunts are like cobblers except they're made entirely on the stovetop (or fire-top, as the case may be!). The fruit is stewed on its own just until it starts to break down. Then biscuit dough is dropped on top of the fruit and the pan is covered so the biscuits steam. The name "grunt" comes from the sound of the bubbles moving through the thick syrup and breaking out between the biscuits. This dessert is also sometimes called a "slump" for the way it slumps on the plate when you serve it.
• Buckle - Buckles invert everything by having the cake on the bottom and the fruit on top. As it bakes, the fruit sinks to the bottom while the cake rises around the fruit, causing it to "buckle".
• Pandowdy - One final bonus variation for you, and perhaps our favorite! Pandowdies cover fruit with a rolled-out pie crust, and the dessert is baked. Out of the oven, you "dowdy" the crust by breaking it into big pieces with a fork. The edges of the pieces absorb some of the juice while the middle stays perfectly crisp. Yum!
These desserts aren't going to win any beauty contests, but that's hardly the point! In our opinion, the combination of warm summer fruit and pastry trumps all. Add a scoop of ice cream and we're in heaven.
What's your favorite summer fruit dessert?