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Cobbler, Crisp, Crumble, Grunt, Slump — You Get the Picture

 At a recent dinner party where dessert was fruit cobbler, the guests were trying to define the difference between a fruit cobbler, fruit crisp and fruit crumble. Can you help us?

 If you’re going to get into a knock-down, drag-out argument over desserts, you might as well take in the whole category, which includes:

  • Betty — a baked pudding made of layers of spiced and sugared fruit and buttered bread crumbs.
  • Clafoutis — a French cobbler, with fruit (usually cherries) on the bottom, custard, and a rough batter crust baked on top
  • Cobbler — a spoon pie (more like a fruit stew with dumplings), in which biscuit dough is dropped onto the fruit before baking. The consensus is that the dish got its name because the lumps of cooked dough resembled cobblestones.
  • Crisp — a deep-dish fruit dessert made with a crumb or streusel topping and baked.
  • Crumble — a British dessert in which raw fruit is topped with a crumbly pastry mixture and baked. One reference says a crumble is like a crisp, but not as rich.
  • Grunt — a spoon pie, with biscuit dough on top of stewed fruit, which is steamed, not baked
  • Pandowdy — a spoon pie, with fruit on the bottom and a rolled crust on top, which is broken up to allow the juices to come through
  • Slump — a spoon pie, including cooked or uncooked fruit topped with biscuit dough or piecrust, which can be baked or steamed, and can be made upside down

Now the fact is, you will not find universal agreement on all these distinctions. There are quite a few people (raised in barns, presumably!) who consider it perfectly acceptable to cover a cobbler with a pie crust . So the real question is, was your dessert really a cobbler?

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