What's the Difference? Crumbles, Grunts, Cobblers, and Buckles

When it comes to dessert - especially those involving fresh fruit and pastry! - we're often too busy spooning up another bite to care what it's called. But these playful names definitely grab your attention, don't they? After Faith's post the other week about her definitive nectarine cobbler, we decided to see what this family of desserts was all about.What all these strangely-named desserts have in common is that they're made with a layer of fresh fruit topped with some kind of baked pastry. The fruit juices bubble up into the pastry as it cooks, forming little pockets of deliciousness and giving most of these desserts their signature pockmarked appearance.

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?

Related: Toad in a Hole and Bird in a Nest: What Are Your Favorite Food Names?

(Image: Flickr member ckemp licensed under Creative Commons)