The best summer desserts are simple: a chilled slice of watermelon, a couple scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream in a sugar cone, a bowlful of berries or sliced peaches dolloped with whipped cream.
Only slightly harder to make are rustic fruit desserts like a betty, buckle, cobbler, crisp, crumble, grunt, slump, sonker, or pandowdy. Most of these desserts are delightful in their simplicity and come together quickly in the kitchen. The only trouble is in the naming: No one can seem to agree on what to call them. One cook’s cobbler is another cook’s buckle.
Here is a short list of the test kitchen’s favorite rustic fruit desserts and the names we use for them.
Sweetened fruit (typically apples but sometimes rhubarb or bananas) layered with bread crumbs and butter and baked. You can enjoy the sweet-tart flavor profile of Cook's Illustrated's Apple-Blackberry Betty.
Cake batter poured over fruit (often berries) and baked. Buckle sometimes resembles a streusel-topped coffee cake. Try our fantastic recipe for Mixed Berry Buckle.
Biscuit dough dolloped over fruit (most often peaches or berries) and baked to resemble cobblestones. But step lightly when using the name, as in some corners of the country, a cobbler can be a rectangular, double-crust fruit pie or it can be the same as a betty. Our Summer Blueberry Cobbler is a great way to showcase plump blueberries.
Crisp and Crumble
Fruit (apples and peaches are common) baked under a crunchy streusel topping that often contains oats. Try our Cherry-Almond Crisp for Two.
Sign up for the Cook's Country Dinner Tonight newsletter
10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.
Grunt and Slump
Not a new workout from TikTok, but rather fruit (almost always berries) cooked on the stovetop under balls of dumpling dough; the dumplings “grunt” under heat. This Blueberry Grunt is a shining example.
Syrupy cooked fruit topped with a thin, pancake-like batter and baked. Our Lazy Strawberry Sonker is a surefire hit.
Fruit (most often apples) baked under dough or sliced stale bread; the topping is pressed into the fruit while it cooks. Try this recipe for Apple Pandowdy.