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Cobbler & Co.: Six desserts where summer fruits shine

The OG fruit bake has variations galore. Armed with spices, herbs, and fun flours, baker Justin Burke-Samson spins them modern

Cobblers, crisps, betties, pandowdies, sonkers, slumps, and grunts: Of all the homespun fruit bakes, which is best? I’ve spent many a summer evening on the porch digging into a bowl of one of them and pondering the topic, as one does. Of course, the answer is entirely subjective.

The classic combo of seasonal fruit and dough baked till bubbling, the cobbler has morphed over the years to suit our pantries and palates. And like any story, recipes change in each iteration depending on the storyteller. Take the crisp, with its caramelized lid of oats, sugar, and butter. Or the brown betty, which relies on stale breadcrumbs for its crunch. The closest to the original cobbler is the sonker, a thick pancake-like batter poured over a layer of fruit. Then there’s the pandowdy, its name a nod to its “dowdy,” or unfashionable (in a good way), patchwork of pie crust that’s rolled thick and placed atop a stew of juicy fruit.

Any of these recipes can
be made dairy-free. Just
swap coconut cream or cashew milk for milk and (chilled) coconut oil for butter.

And lastly, the slump, or grunt, is made with fruit reduced to near jammy on the stovetop and then crowned with dumplings.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. There are cobblers topped with drop biscuits or dumplings, cornmeal crisps, and sonkers made with leftover pie crust. Sensing a theme here? There’s no orthodoxy in fruit bakes except for one: No matter the name, no matter your version, a scoop of ice cream on top is never a bad thing.

Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Brown Betty

Blackberry Rye Crisp

Boysenberry Ginger Slump

Sour Plum Buttermilk Cobbler

Peach Masala Sonker with Milk Dip

Stone Fruit and Hibiscus Pandowdy

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