karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,

All around the cobbler's bench

Cobblers and other ways of combining fruit and crust is the topic of Suday's Scotsman food section. This article covers...
...a crisp, a crunch, a grunt, a brown betty, a buckle and even a pandowdy.

First up, the grunt. ...this differs from our crumble in that it's meant to be simmered on the stove, with the topping gently cooked on top of the fruit - more like steamed dumplings - under a tight lid. Apparently, it was the sound of the pudding steaming that led to it being called a grunt. I make mine in the oven, since I believe the Scots palate prefers a crisper topping with fruit, rather than moist and steamed.

A cobbler is not unlike a pie, but with a very thick layer - or individual blobs - of buttery sweet pastry on top of the fruit. Similar to this is the buckle, which turns out to be more like a cake than a pie. Then there is that marvellous pandowdy, which must surely come from the hoedown or clam-bake school of cookery. This has the usual fruit layer, often spiced as well as sweetened, which is covered with a top pie crust. It never has a base.

The brown betty comprises a fruity layer topped with sweet buttered crumbs, which is then baked until it is golden and crispy.

That leaves the three most similar dishes - our own crumble, the crisp and the crunch. The only variation here is that the crunch often has layers of crumble on the top and under the fruit, and once it's baked it is cut into squares - like a traybake. The crisp often has oats added to the crumble - a handful of porridge oats not only adds even more crunch, it also makes it healthier. That is until you add big dollops of cream, ice-cream and custard. And don't tell me you have never adorned the great British crumble with all three.

Recipes serve six to eight

750g brambles [blackberries]
125g golden caster sugar [baker's sugar, about halfway between table sugar and confectioner's (powdered) sugar]
25g cornflour, dissolved in 2 tbsp cold water
100g self-raising flour
75g fine polenta
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
zest and juice of 1 lemon
50g butter, melted and cooled slightly
75ml milk

Place the brambles, 75g sugar and two tablespoons of water in a pan and slowly heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring all the time. Increase the heat and add the cornflour mixture. Stir over a medium heat for three minutes, until thickened. Stir in the brambles and then tip them into a round ovenproof dish. Leave this to cool.

For the cobbler topping, sieve the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt into a bowl and add 50g of sugar and the lemon zest. Stir in the lemon juice and melted butter, and then quickly stir in the milk. (Do not overwork the dough.)

Drop six spoonfuls of the cobbler mixture over the berries and then bake at 200°C/400°F/gas 6 for about 40 minutes, or until the fruit bubbles up and the cobbles are cooked through. Check by gently easing one off with the top of a sharp knife and looking underneath.

Serve warm with Greek yoghurt.


900g damsons (or plums)
125g golden granulated sugar
110g plain flour, sifted
50g porridge oats
75g butter, cubed

Place the damsons in an ovenproof dish and sprinkle over 75g of sugar. (If you're using plums instead, you might find you need less sugar.)

For the crumble, mix the flour and porridge oats together and then rub in the butter. Stir in 50g of sugar. Sprinkle this crumble mixture over the fruit, patting down gently - don't pack it down too firmly. Bake at 400°F/200°C/gas 6 for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the golden-brown crumble is tinged with seeping damson juices.

Eat warm with crème fraîche.


600g blueberries (frozen ones are fine)
100g golden caster sugar
2 level tsp cornflour
3 tbsp lemon juice
175g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
50g butter, diced
1 medium free-range egg, beaten
4 tbsp milk

Place the berries in a saucepan with 50g of the sugar. Dissolve the cornflour in the lemon juice and add to the pan. Bring this very slowly to the boil. Cook for about two minutes, until the juices are released, then remove and tip everything into a shallow oven dish.

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the remaining 50g of sugar and the lemon zest. Rub in the butter, then stir in the egg and milk to form a soft dough.

Drop six spoonfuls of the dough over the top of the blueberries - they don't need to be too shapely, as they will spread out haphazardly during cooking. Bake in a preheated oven (220°C/425°F/gas 7) for about 20 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and firm. Serve warm with thick cream.


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