Having Betty Over for Dessert

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It’s that time of year. My mouth is watering and a body is craving antioxidants. And there’s no better time than right now to grab, buy or even pick your own summer jewels. I’m of course talking about berries – a myriad of types and varieties can be found in virtually every area of the U.S.

So once you have your hoard, what now? My culinary intuition and memories turn to bettys, buckles, crisps, crumbles, cobblers and grunts. The questions for most home cooks is, “What does it all mean?” and “What’s the difference anyway?”

First, a few definitions.

  • A Betty or Brown Betty originated in Europe, and eventually gravitated to colonial America where cooks made a “baked pudding made of layers of sugared and spiced fruit and buttered breadcrumbs.”*
  • Buckles are a “simple, single-layered cake made with berries.”*
  • Crisps are a dessert of fruit baked with a crunchy topping of bread crumbs, chopped nuts, butter, and brown sugar.
  • Originated in Brittan, a crumble is baked dessert of “fruit topped with a crumbly pastry mixture.”*
  • Cobblers are a “baked, deep-dish fruit dessert topped with a thick biscuit crust sprinkled with sugar.”* The fruit is usually raw before cooking.
  • A grunt is a sweet-flavored fish found in Florida’s coastal waters. For our purposes today, a grunt is a a baked dessert comprised of stewed or baked fruit that is then covered with a rolled biscuit or cookie dough. Certain grunts, called “slumps”, are similarly made but inverted before serving, so that the crust is on the bottom.

* Food Lover’s Companion, Sharon Tyler Herbst, The (Barron’s Cooking Guide) 3rd Edition

Any less confused? No matter, because it’s really all about the food. Here is my favorite crumble recipe.

“Mary’s” blueberry crumble

For the Blueberries
2 pints, approximately 2 to 3 cups, blueberries
ยฝ cup granulated sugar
zest of ยฝ lemon

For the Topping
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
ยฝ teaspoon kosher salt
1 whole egg beaten

ยฝ cup melted unsalted butter

To Prepare: Preheat the oven to 350ยฐF. Toss the berries with the sugar and lemon zest and place in a 1 quart (approximately 9″ x 9″) oven safe baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and egg until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Cover the berries with the topping and pour melted butter evenly over the top.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes until the top has browned and the fruit begins to soften and the mixture bubbles.

Note: I recommend you place the baking dish on a baking sheet to protect your oven from the possibility of the fruit boiling over the edge of the pan.

To Serve:Let the crumble cool for 20 to 30 minuted before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream. To add an elegant, flavorful and colorful twist, sprinkle candied lavender flowers on top of the ice cream. Lavender flowers are available from Meadowsweets or visit this article by Debbie Kwiatoski for a recipe on Creating Candied Flower Blossoms.

Substitutions /Options: In the summer, use varieties of sweet cane berries, cherries or tree fruit such as peaches, plums or nectarines. In the fall, use apples, pears, cranberries or quinces.

Wine Notes: A Moscato-style wine that has honey and stone fruit perfume and flavors with balanced acidity will both bring out the best in the fruit. Try BV Muscat de Beaulieuf from California, Andrew Rich’s Les Vigneaux Gewurztraminer from Oregon or for that special find, Cuckoo’s Nest Cellars Fizze from Oregon (a fizzy and deliciously sweet wine inspired by but surpasses Italian Moscato D’Asti.)

Makes 1 large crumble or 6 to 8 individual servings.

More on Farmer’s Market Fare from GO Network:
The Berry Bible: With 175 Recipes Using Cultivated and Wild, Fresh and Frozen Berries by Janie Hibler
Farmers Market Fare 13
What is Sustainable Cuisine?
Underground Farmer: Insider Tips on Shopping the Farmers’ Market
Think Spring, Think Local

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