August 28, 2013

Cobblering together dessert

Bounteous berries and other fresh fruits make this the perfect time for these rustic treats.

McClatchy Newspapers

ATLANTA — In the South, peach cobbler is the go-to dessert of summer.

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Ginger rhubarb crisp


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Mixed berry clafoutis


But with a bounty of berries, plus cool-season imports like rhubarb, it's easy to spice up the season with some different takes on the rustic pan-baked combo of fresh fruit topped with sweet crust.

Variations on the theme, with nods to regional tastes, include crisps, crumbles and buckles. Lately, French-derived clafoutis has become another popular alternative, making its way onto many restaurant menus.

Crisps and crumbles are close cousins, with recipes calling for toppings made with sugar, butter, flour and often oatmeal, sprinkled over fruit and baked until it's crisp and crumbly.

We went back to a classic "Joy of Cooking" recipe that uses ginger snaps to make rhubarb crisp, and added another twist with a bit of candied ginger. The result is a sweet-tart-spicy dessert that begs for a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream.

If cobbler is like easy pie, buckle is like easy cake, with fruit folded into a rich batter.

Our Georgia version, baked in a cast iron skillet, has peaches and blueberries in a mixture spiked with Richland Rum and topped with pecan streusel. The caramel flavor and eat-it-with a-fork texture conjures a fruity blondie.

Far from cobbler, clafoutis is a sweet custard poured over fruit and baked like a tart. For an elegant summertime treat, we used a mix of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, finished with a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar.

We also offer a recipe for juicy strawberry ice cream, perfect for pairing with crisps, crumbles and buckles.



Hands on time: 20 minutes

Total time: 80 minutes

Servings: Eight

Super quick and easy, and a far cry from the average cobbler, this elegant French classic has been gaining popularity, lately. It's essentially sweet custard, poured over fruit and baked until set and puffy, then dusted with confectioner's sugar.

3 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1½ cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup flour

1 cup raspberries

1 cup blackberries

1 cup strawberries

Confectioner's sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, cream and vanilla until frothy. Add the flour and whisk until smooth.

Grease a 6 cup baking dish and arrange the berries in the bottom of the dish. Pour over the egg mixture and bake for 55 minutes until set and golden. Dust with confectioner's sugar to serve.



Hands on time: 30 minutes

Total time: 90 minutes, plus 20 minutes for cooling

Servings: Eight

This cake-like buckle has the flavor and texture of a blondie, with fruit folded into the batter, and baked in a cast iron skillet for a crispy crust and gooey center. Georgia pecans and Richland Rum add to the local flavor.

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for skillet

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon or more to taste

Richland Rum or other sugar cane rum

1¼ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1½ pounds peaches, pitted, peeled, and cut into ½-inch pieces (4 cups)

1 cup blueberries

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, 9-inch square baking pan, or 2-quart shallow baking dish. In a large bowl, cream butter and ¾ cup sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add rum and eggs, one at a time, and beat to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat until incorporated to make a batter. Fold in peaches and blueberries. Spread batter in prepared skillet.

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