Sometimes, when I hear the names of some foods, I am quite puzzled as to where these names originate from. A few years back, if you were to say "cobbler" to me I would think shoes. Say "grunt" to me and I'd think of pigs! For me, a "buckle" comes with a belt, a "slump" is a sad thing to happen to food and a "sonker" has me stumped!!
"Crisps" make me think of "chips" or should I call them "wafers"? It so happens that what I call "chips" are "fingers" to some and "wafers" to others. To me a "wafer" is a thin, dry, crisp and flat biscuit like thing that decorates ice-creams or used to sandwich a cream filling!!
And if all this wasn't confusing enough, here are some more other definitions for the word "cobbler".
Whatever they're called, I have discovered that they are all very delicious fruit based desserts which have been in existence for generations and are considered classics. Each of these can have different fillings or toppings and have definite ways of being cooked or baked.
Here's a slight de-mystification of some of those names.
Brown Betty ~here fruit and bread pieces (or cracker crumbs) are layered alternately and baked into something resembling a bread pudding.
Crisps ~this is fruit (usually slightly tart) topped with a crumbly mixture of flour, butter, sugar (usually brown) and sometimes oats. Baked till top is brown and crunchy. I believ these are also called "crumble". I am guessing the crumbly nature of the topping is why its called a "crumble", and when baked the crumble becomes crisp and so is called a "crisp"?
Grunts/ Slumps ~this version of fruit and topping is cooked on a stove-top.
Buckles ~here fruit is either mixed with cake batter or it is layered over a layer of cake batter and baked.
Cobblers ~in these fruit is topped and partially or completely covered with cake-like scone/ biscuit dough and baked till the top is browned. I read somewhere that the topping has a "cobbled" look and so this dish is called a "cobbler".
Sonker ~I understand this is a deep dish version of the cobbler unique to North Carolina in the U.S.
My apple and pear cobbler came about because I had a few apples and pears I wanted to use up and also plenty of very fresh and tender ginger. When I my sister came down for a vacation some moths back, I decided to add to her luggage a bit. I ordered quite a few baking books (and some other stuff) from Amazon and saved myself the international shipping charges by getting them delivered to my sister's address, who in turn lugged them down here for me.
One of those books was Light & Easy Baking by Beatrice Ojakangas. This is a book which was published quite some time ago, but an excellent book, in my opinion. The book has over 200 low fat recipes for all kinds of baked food. What I like about this book is that the author explains how she works with each recipe to reduce the fat in it and also points out how you could similarly work with any recipe of your choice.
I adapted this recipe from her Berry Cobbler recipe. There's something special about this ginger flavoured moist and juicy dessert with the slightly crisp cake-like topping. This is very easy to make and good way to use up excess fruit.
I used apples and pears here. You could use whatever fruit you have on hand. I added ginger as I love the slightly spicy tones it gives this cobbler, but feel free to leave it out if you do not like ginger in your desserts.
1 cup peeled and chopped apples
1 cup peeled and chopped pears
1 1/2 to 2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2/3 cup brown sugar (increase this to 1/2 cup if preferred)
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
2/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp (about 35 gm) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1/8 cup hot water
Put the chopped apple and pear, ginger, cornstarch, about half of the sugar and lemon juice in a glass bowl and mix well. Cook in the microwave till the fruit is cooked and the mixture has thickened slightly (about 6 to 8 minutes at 100%).
You can also cook the fruit on the stove-top. Put the above mentioned ingredients, excluding the cornstarch, in a pan with a few tsps of water and cook till done. Dissolve the cornstarch in 2 tbsp water and add to the cooked fruit. Stir well and cokk for a couple of minutes till it thickens.
Put this mixture into a shallow glass dish/ casserole or divide it equally among 4 dessert bowls to make individual servings.
In another bowl combine the flour, remaining sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt. Add the butter and mix till the mixture resembles moist crumbs. Now add the hot water and just stir till a soft dough forms.
Drop spoonfuls of this dough over the hot fruit, to partially or totally cover the fruit. Bake at 200C for about 20 or 25 minutes or till the topping is a golden brown.
Serve warm with frozen yogurt or ice-cream. This recipe serves 4.