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What's In a Name?: The Differences Between Cobblers, Slumps, Grunts, and More

By: Danielle Zimmerman, editor for TheBestDessertRecipes.com

What's In a Name?: The Differences Between Cobblers, Slumps, Grunts, and MoreThere are so many different kinds of desserts in the world that it's difficult to keep track of them. Some are just so similar that it's hard to tell them apart. That's why we've created this dessert guide, entitled What's In a Name? The Differences Between Cobblers, Slumps, Grunts, and More. After reading it, you'll be able to answer questions such as "What is a grunt?" and "What is a slump?," as well as be able to tell a crisp recipe and a cobbler recipe apart from each other.

 

Before we get started, you'll be happy to know that there's a reason that these terms get so mixed up all the time. They're all desserts that prominently feature fruit and, usually, include flour, sugar, and butter as well. It's their slight differences in preparation, ingredients, or origin that earn them all different names.

 

What is a cobbler?

Cobblers are deep-dish fruit desserts that involve a sweet fruit filling that can be supported and surrounded by a thick, biscuit-like crust. Cobbler recipes are then topped with biscuit dough. The topping can either cover the entire dish like a pie crust does for pies, be made into a lattice to cover the dish, or it can be dropped on top in spoonfuls or handfuls. The dropped dough topping almost looks like the cobbled stones on old streets, hence the name "cobbler"! Many times, people in the U.K. use the cobbler form for savory dishes instead of sweet desserts.

 

What is a crisp?

A crisp is also a deep-dish fruit dessert, similar to the crumble. However, there are two major differences between a crisp and a cobbler. First, the fruit mixture is on the very bottom of the dessert. There is no crust to support or surround the fruit. Also, instead of a doughy, biscuit topping, crisps are topped with a simple crumb topping made of sugar, flour, and butter.

 

What is a crumble?

A crumble is almost the exact same dish as a crisp. The only difference is that the streusel topping is more like a granola. Crumble recipe toppings usually include oats, but can also have coconut flakes and nuts. Both the crumble and the crisp are baked until their toppings turn a golden brown and they're the quickest of these types of desserts to make.

 

What is a grunt?

Grunts are just like cobblers, biscuit dough topping and all, except for one important detail: they're made on top of the stove (or even over a camp fire!) rather than in the oven. The iron skillet is completely covered while the dessert bakes. Cooking recipes for grunts on top of the stove instead of in the oven like a cobbler causes the biscuit topping to steam, rather than bake. This dish gets its name both from the sound it makes while it's steaming and from the sound people make when eating it.

 

What is a slump?

Surprise! It's the same thing as a grunt! You think someone would have been able to pick a better nickname or alternative name that sounds better than "grunt," but "slump" is pretty much on the same level. Although, the name "slump" is fitting because that's what the dessert does when you try to put it on a plate.

 

What is a Betty?

A Betty is basically a dessert in which fruit, usually apples, is baked between layers of buttered crumbs. Betty recipes are baked until the apples (or other fruit) are extremely tender and the crumbs are crispy. If a Betty is called a Brown Betty, that just means that brown sugar is one of the major ingredients. This was one of the most popular desserts during the colonial times and some say that it was one of the first documented apple desserts in the United States. No wonder it still brings people a sense of nostalgia whenever they eat one.

 

What is a buckle?

Buckle recipes can take on quite a few forms, but the most popular consists of a cake-like layer that's topped with fruit and then a layer of crumbled topping. As the buckle bakes, the cake rises along the sides of the dish and around the fruit. As a result, the fruit sinks and the rising sides the buckle in toward the center. Blueberry buckles are the most popular buckle recipes out there at the moment.

 

What is a pandowdy?

Pandowdies (also spelled pan dowdies) are fruit desserts that can be made with any fruit you like, but are often made apples that are sweetened with brown sugar or molasses (hence, the popular dish "Apple Pandowdy"). The topping is usually a rolled biscuit or pie crust dough that cracks as it bakes. When it cracks, the dough slides down into the fruit and lets the juices rise up. Some people have even made the dessert where the crust is on the bottom and then, right before serving, the whole pandowdy is inverted.

 

What is a sonker?

A sonker (also called a "zonker") is a dish that's unique to North Carolina that's essentially more of a deep dish version of the cobbler. It comes in many flavors, but some of the most popular include strawberry, cherry, and sweet potato.

 

 

For more handy kitchen tips, check out our free eBook, The Ultimate Kitchen Guide: How-Tos, Cooking Tips & Essential Kitchen Knowledge.

 

 

 

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