Old-fashioned baked fruit desserts have some of the silliest names in all of cook-dom. • Pandowdy, buckle and crumble sound like words you'd hear the dentist utter about the sad state of your teeth. Then there's the slump, grunt and Betty. Culinary treats or a glossary of gymnastics moves? That could go either way. And what fool would eat something called a fool? • But don't let the curiously named desserts put you off, especially at this time of the summer when the produce bins are bulging with berries plus tropical and stone fruit. Make use of the bounty by baking Mango and Rhubarb Crisp or Peach Cobbler, both made even more delicious with rivers of melting vanilla ice cream running through them.
Here's another thing to know: Fresh fruit is wonderful but it's often juicier than frozen. For extra-ripe fresh fruit, you may need a bit more cornstarch than the recipe calls for so that the juice doesn't overrun the dry ingredients. Frozen fruit holds its shape when baked and it's already peeled, too, so that's a time-saver. I tested the recipes that accompany this story and used frozen fruit in three of them, even when the original recipes called for fresh. All turned out lovely, making them perfect for year-round baking.
Also, frozen fruit can be cheaper in large quantities unless you're buying fresh fruit at a farmers market or have access to a tree or bush. Watch for bags of frozen fruit on sale and stock the freezer. I spent nearly $10 on fresh peaches for the peach cobbler and frozen would have been about $3 less.
And about that fool: It's a classic English dessert, something like a parfait. It's not baked but just cut fruit folded with sweetened whipped cream.
A GUIDE TO BAKED SUMMER SWEETS
Betty: A baked pudding with sweetened fruit and buttered bread crumbs on the top. Similar to bread pudding, made with bread cubes. It is often associated with autumn when apples are in season but can be made with summer fruits, too.
Crisp/crumble: A baked melange of sweetened fruit on the bottom and a crumbly topping of flour, oats, sugar and butter. The topping is crunchy after baking.
Slump/grunt: An Old English dessert made on the stove. A sweetened stew of fruit is dotted with dumplings, which steam under a cover. The names probably came from the sounds of bubbling and popping that the mixture makes as it cooks.
Cobbler: Spoonfuls of sweetened biscuitlike dough are scattered over a deep baking dish of sweetened fruit. The slurpy fruit peeks between golden knots of dough when baked.
Pandowdy: A deep baking dish of sweetened fruit covered with a thick layer of dough or cake batter, baked to golden. Almost looks like a large, rectangular pot pie before it's cut. It tastes like a very fruity muffin when cake batter is used.
Buckle: A cake laced with fresh fruit, sometimes covered with a crumbly-sweet topping. Serve with whipped cream. It's a bit like a coffee cake.
Information from Times files was used in this report. Janet K. Keeler can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8586.