Crisps, crumbles, cobblers and grunts: baking with fruit

Fresh berry and fruit desserts are a favourite in every corner of our country. It is interesting that many of our regional baked berry dishes are not so different from one end of the country to the other. The name changes, but they are essentially the same.

Whether you call it a crisp or a crumble, it’s a simple sweetened berry topped with a buttered oatmeal mixture.

These summer desserts are made with pantry staples like flour, butter, oatmeal and sugar. Pick up fresh berries from your local farmers market or go out to the coulees and harvest them yourself. But enjoy them while they are in season.

Mixed berry buckle

A buckle is more cake-like than any of the other desserts in this column, but is still very moist. It is best served the day it is made or it can become soggy. It would be perfect with whipped cream.
Frozen berries can be used in this recipe but thaw them in a colander to strain the juice before adding to the batter.

  • 1/2 c. butter 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. sugar, more for sprinkling 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar 60 mL
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 5 mL
  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour 310 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder 2 mL
  • 4 1/2 c. mix of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries or use any one kind 1.25 L
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 375 F (190 C). Butter a nine-inch (22 cm) round cake pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter, sugar and brown sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add lemon zest and vanilla and mix until combined.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg and baking powder, and whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix until just combined.
Gently fold berries into the batter and then spread batter in pan and sprinkle lightly with more sugar.
Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until top is golden and cake is cooked through.
Allow cake to cool, then dust with icing sugar.

Saskatoon berry puff pastry cobbler

Cobblers are usually topped with biscuit-like dough but store-bought puff pastry gets the job done in no time.
Use fresh berries or thawed frozen berries. Frozen unthawed berries will take too long to heat up and delay the baking of the puff pastry.

  • 3 c. saskatoons 750 mL
  • 1/2 sheet puff pastry
  • 1/4 c. sugar 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch 15 mL
  • 1 egg
  • coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
Roll pastry and cut to fit the top of a nine-inch square cake pan.

Place saskatoons in the cake pan. Sprinkle sugar over berries and allow them to sit for 10 minutes.
Spread the puff pastry over the berries and cut two or three slits in the middle for steam to vent.
Make an egg wash with the egg and a little bit of water. Whisk briskly. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake the cobbler for 30 to 35 minutes or until the top is browned.
Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.

Mixed berry crumble

Frozen or fresh berries can be used. I like to at least partially thaw frozen berries before baking.

  • 2 c. blueberries 500 mL
  • 2 1/2 c. saskatoons 625 mL
  • 2 c. strawberries, halved, or quartered if large 500 mL
  • 1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch 30 mL
  • 1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest 7 mL
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice 45 mL
  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour 175 mL
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar 175 mL
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar, lightly packed 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. rolled oats 125 mL
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon 3 mL
  • 3/4 tsp. salt 3 mL
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature 125 mL
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Generously butter a nine-inch (22 cm) square baking pan.
In a large bowl, toss together the berries, 1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour into the baking pan.
For the crumble, combine flour, sugar, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix it on low speed until the mixture is crumbly. Pour the mixture over the berries and lightly pat down.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the juices are bubbly and the topping is browned. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Blueberry grunt

This dessert is so simple that you think it can’t possibly be that tasty. But it is.
Maple whipped cream is essential.
Wild blueberries are ideal but you can buy frozen berries if necessary.
Blueberry grunt is an east coast dessert thought to be an early adaptation of an English steamed pudding.
The “grunt” comes from the sound the dumplings make while being steamed.

  • 4 cups frozen or fresh blueberries 1 L
  • 1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice 15 mL
  • 1 3/4 c. flour 425 mL
  • 3 tbsp. sugar 45 mL
  • 2 tsp. baking powder 10 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/4 c. shortening 60 mL
  • 1 c. milk 250 mL
  • 1 c. whipping cream 250 mL
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup 45 mL
  • fresh mint, for garnish

In a large skillet or wide saucepan, combine and stir blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and zest. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until berries soften, about three minutes.
Make dumplings by whisking together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add shortening and rub in with fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like fine meal. Add milk and stir just until combined.
Drop large spoonfuls of dumpling batter on top of blueberry mixture in pan. Cover and reduce heat to low.
If you don’t have a lid to fit the pan, lightly spray a piece of kitchen foil and gently cover the pan putting oiled side down. There is no need to crimp the edges of the foil onto the pan.
Simmer until dumplings have steamed and are firm to the touch, 10 to 15 minutes.
While dumplings are steaming, make maple cream.
Combine cream and maple syrup in a metal bowl. Beat until cream is stiff.
Serve blueberry grunt topped with maple cream and garnish with a sprig of mint.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at Contact:

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