American Fruit Desserts.... from Buckles to Pandowdy

Slumps, Buckles, Cobblers, Crisps, Crumbles, 
Pandowdies, Betties... And don’t forget about the Grunts and Sonkers. So many American fruit desserts it’s hard to keep them straight. All have one common theme seasonal fruit and dough of some sort, they’re all uncomplicated classics.  

Here’s what makes each one special.

(in alphabetical order)

Brown Betty

  • Traditionally fruit layered with a bread crumb/sugar mixture with three layers of bread crumbs and two layers of fruit.  
  • When baked in the oven the fruit and bread crumbs melt together almost like a bread pudding.   
  • Some recipes use graham cracker crumbs.


  • A cake type batter and fruit, some fold the fruit into the batter and some pour the batter over top of fruit.  
  • A streusel type topping added to the top.  
  • This is baked in the oven and served in baking dish.


  • This is a deep dish, single crusted fruit dessert.  The crust is almost always a biscuit type dough,  some make drop biscuits, some roll them out and cut them. 
  • The key is to leave some space around the fruit so it bubbles up around the biscuits when baking.   

  • In my family this is not a dessert but a side dish with every holiday/group meal from Christmas to a high school graduation, it’s on the table and it’s always apple.  
  • This is made with a streusel type crumb of fat, sugar and flour, then it’s sprinkled over prepared fruit and baked in the oven.  
  • Any single fruit or combinations of fruit works with crisps.

  • This is similar to a crisp but the topping is more like an oatmeal cookie dough and less like streusel.  
  • Baked in the oven in a baking dish or cast iron skillet.

Grunt or Slump

  • This is made on the stovetop in a Dutch oven or cast iron skillet with a lid.  
  • Fruit is stewed  then a dumpling/biscuit dough is spooned on top of cooking fruit and covered to steam.

There are two different approaches to this dessert but both start with fruit in a baking dish or skillet and pie dough.  

  1. First way...fruit goes in the baking dish, roll out the pie crust and place  on top.  Bake in oven, halfway through the cooking time pull it out of the oven and break up the crust with a spoon so there are large broken chunks of crust and return to oven to finish cooking.  The crust gets golden and some parts stay soft in the juices of the fruit.


  1. Second way....fruit goes in baking dish just as before but the after rolling out the pie dough to ¼ inch thick, the dough it gets ripped into rough pieces by hand and then the pieces are placed on top of the fruit. Baked in oven until golden..

Happy Summer!


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