History and Legends
© copyright 2004 by Linda Stradley - United States Copyright TX 5-900-517- All rights reserved. This web site may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission and appropriate credit given. If you use any of the history information contained below for research in writing a magazine or newspaper article, school work or college research, and/or television show production, you must give a reference to the author, Linda Stradley, and to the web site What's Cooking America.
They have been and are still called by various names such as cobbler, tart, pie, torte, pandowdy, grunt, slump, buckles, crisp, croustade, bird's nest pudding or crow's nest pudding. They are all simple variations of cobblers, and they are all based on seasonal fruits and berries, in other words, whatever fresh ingredients are readily at hand. They are all homemade and simple to make and rely more on taste than fancy pastry preparation.
Early settlers of America were very good at improvising. When they first arrived, they bought their favorite recipes with them, such as English steamed puddings). Not finding their favorite ingredients, they used whatever was available. That's how all these traditional American dishes came about with such unusual names. Early colonist were so fond of these juicy dishes that they often served them as the main course, for breakfast, or even as a first course. It was not until the late 19th century that they became primarily desserts.
Now what is the history of all this? From everything I've read, they seem to be a variation of the "pie" or "pye." The pie was a development from the Roman idea (2nd Century B.C.) of sealing meat inside a flour and oil paste as it cooked.
For additional history of the pie, click
Crisps and Crumbles - Crisps are baked with the fruit mixture on the bottom with a crumb topping. The crumb topping can be made with flour, nuts, bread crumbs, cookie or graham cracker crumbs, or even breakfast cereal. Crumble are the British version of the American Crisp.
Betty or Brown Betty - A Betty consist of a fruit, most commonly apples, baked between layers of buttered crumbs. Betties are an English pudding dessert closely related to the French apple charlotte. Betty was a popular baked pudding made during colonial times in America.
Grunts or Slump - Early attempts to adapt the English steamed pudding to the primitive cooking equipment available to the Colonists in New Englans resulted in the grunt and the slump, a simple dumpling-like pudding (basically a cobbler) using local fruit. Usually cooked on top of the stove. In Massachusetts, they were known as a grunt (thought to be a description of the sound the berries make as they stew). In Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island, the dessert was referred to as a slump.
Buckle or Crumble - Is a type of cake made in a single layer with berries added to the batter. It is usually made with blueberries. The topping is similar to a streusel, which gives it a buckled or crumpled appearance.
Pandowdy - It is a deep-dish dessert that can be made with a variety of fruit, but is most commonly made with apples sweetened with molasses or brown sugar. The topping is a crumbly type of biscuit except the crust is broken up during baking and pushed down into the fruit to allow the juices to come through. Sometimes the crust is on the bottom and the desert is inverted before serving. The exact origin of the name Pandowdy is unknown, but it is thought to refer to the deserts plain or dowdy appearance.
Bird's Nest Pudding - A pudding containing apples whose cores have been replaced by sugar. The apples are nestled in a bowl created by the crust. Also called Crow's Nest Pudding.
Sonker - A sonker is a deep-dish pie or cobbler served in many flavors including strawberry,
peach, sweet potato, and cherry. I’ve also read this same dish is called zonker (or sonker) in
Surry County, North Carolina. It seems to be a dish unique to North Carolina. The community of Lowgap at the
Edwards-Franklin House, hold an annual Sonker Festival.
Buttery Cinnamon Blackberry Cobbler
Blackberry Crisp with Sweet Sour Cream
What's Cooking America© copyright 2004 by Linda Stradley - United States Copyright TX 5-900-517- All rights reserved. -