Cobbler, Crisp, Crunch, Crumble

Yes, I know we broke all kinds of records this weekend with the heat, but I baked blueberry muffins Sunday. I had produce that needed using and wasn’t about to let a little 105 degree heat wave stop me.

Last Monday, my neighbor and I went blueberry and blackberry picking. I made a cobbler with all of the blackberries and let the kids munch on some of the blueberries. The rest would later be destined for the aforementioned blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes (I add 1/4 cup of berries to each individual scoop of batter to ensure there are adequate berries in every bite). I had intended to make Alton Brown’s Blueberry Buckle too but ran out of berries. See the link for an absolutely delicious blueberry treat:

I also made a fruit crisp. I had four not-too-pretty peaches and three mangy apples and decided to combine them all into one crisp. After I sprayed the cooking dish (non-stick spray has got to be one of the greatest inventions. I love it when I remember to use it and curse myself when I forget), I peeled and cored the apples, sliced all the fruit, tossed the whole mess with 1/3 cup raw sugar and 1/4 cup of apple jack – yes, the booze – and packed it into the Pyrex. For the topping I combined 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1t cinnamon and crumbled in 1/2 stick butter with my hands (it’s just easier that way). I then topped the fruit with the topping and placed the whole mess in the oven (375 degrees) for 35 minutes until the topping was browned and the crisp was bubbly. It was delicious – the apples were sweet and the peaches a little tart. Who knew!

Monday’s blackberry cobbler and Sunday’s crisp got me thinking. What IS the difference between the two? This reminded me of the scalloped/Au Gratin potato discussion I had with my Aunt Carol many years ago. The jury is still out on that one. Back to the fruit desserts…

I once also heard cobblers got their name because of the dough’s semblance to a cobblestone street, and a little research in my handy-dandy Cook’s Illustrated (July/August 1996, p. 18-20) led me to believe this may be true. While any fruit will do (less maybe watermelon), the difference lies in the topping. To quote:

“Cobblers usually have a biscuit topping, while crisps and crumbles have a crumb topping. To further differentiate, crisps are topped with a mixture of butter, sugar, flour and nuts, while crumbles have the same topping, with oatmeal taking the place of the nuts.”

(PS - Cook’s Illustrated offers recipes for four versions of cobbler toppings: butter cookie dough, rich shortcake, flaky pastry and batter. )

In retrospect I did make a blackberry cobbler - I used the batter style topping but have tried the butter cookie dough and found it a little too sweet for my taste - but apparently actually made a apple/peach crumble. Crisp, crumble, cobbler – they all may be a little different; however, all taste GREAT with vanilla ice cream!

Now...what about buckles and Bettys? Streusels and strudels?

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