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© Stephanie Meyer
I don’t know about you, but right now, I have way too many farmers’ market strawberries and rhubarb in my freezer and I need to make way for the fruits coming into season this week. Spring and summer came early in Minnesota this year, and the rhubarb was amazing—sweet and long, tart and red. If you don’t have these fruits lying around or you want to go in a different direction, try blackberries and peach, blueberries and nectarines, or my new favorite crumble combo: raspberry and roasted plum. You need to take the moisture out of the plums before adding them to the filling, though, so I halve the plums, brush them with oil, season them with sugar and roast them at 275° for a few hours, until they wither. Then I let them cool and toss them with raspberries.
For the history buffs in the room: The early American immigrants were Europeans who came to the New World without their favorite ingredients. Being gritty and spontaneous and often cooking dishes of necessity, they became brilliantly creative and made a whole bevy of wet, fruity, sweet “puddings” that went by a slew of colloquial names. And most often they were served for breakfast. By the 20th century, that had all changed, but here is a little chart of terms, with thanks to Websters Dictionary, What’s Cooking America and Alan Davison:
Cobbler An American deep-dish fruit dessert with a fruit filling and a biscuit crust (sometimes a crumb or drop-biscuit topping).
Crisp or Crumble Called crumbles in England, these are baked with the fruit mixture on the bottom and a crumb topping.
Betty or Brown Betty Fruit baked between layers of buttered crumbs. Bettys are an English pudding dessert similar to the French charlotte. The heyday of the Betty was in the 18th century.
Grunt or Slump A simple pudding similar to a cobbler, cooked on top of the stove. In Massachusetts, it’s known as a grunt. In Vermont, Maine and Rhode Island, the dessert is called a slump. They are distinguished from cobblers because they were made in pots on top of fires, in homes that lacked utensils or equipment for “proper baking.”
Buckle or Crumble A cake with fruit added to the batter. It is typically topped with streusel and that gives the dessert a bumpy or “buckled” top.
Pandowdy A dessert that can be made with a variety of fruit sweetened with molasses or brown sugar and baked in a deep pot. The topping is a biscuit that is broken up when baked, then pushed down into the fruit so that the juices can come up to the top. The name supposedly comes from its origins as a “plain” or “dowdy” dessert served in servants quarters, as opposed to fancy dining rooms.
Bird’s Nest Pudding A pudding in which whole cored apples are filled with sugar. The apples are then baked in a crust and served in the edible “bowl” of pastry.
Sonker A deep-dish cobbler. The people of North Carolina are familiar with this term. No one else is.
Go to Recipe: Early Summer Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble