No one seems to be happy about the state of public school lunches in America – they are quite appalling. When I think back, it seems that complaining about school lunches has always been the norm – it’s just that now we’re more concerned with the actual nutritional value that kids receive from a lunch with a reimbursement value of $2.72. I’m not going to go down that road today… Rather, I was reminiscing about the one day every week – I think it was Friday – that I looked forward to cafeteria fare way back when I was a school girl. Friday was the day the white-haired lunch ladies served up Apple Brown Betty made from scratch. Forget whatever else was on the tray; with your carton of cold whole milk – it was a sweet, satisfying mid-day treat!
With a few peaches left from a carton of juicy, very sweet Summer Flame peaches hubs bought at Trader Joe’s, I decide to splurge and make a dessert that actually included butter and sugar. This is a rare occasion in our house; I prefer savory over sweet and over the years we’ve all but eliminated sugar from our diet except for the occasional batch of cookies that The Young Baker makes when she’s at home. Normally, I would blend the peaches into a smoothie with coconut milk or yogurt, but on this day, I was struck with the desire to make a crisp (or Betty) like the hair-netted lunch ladies used to make.
The recipe? It’s so simple: I sliced the peaches (leaving the skin on), placed them in a small saucepan, added a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter and cooked the mixture for a few minutes to marry the flavors. Poured the peach mixture into a baking dish. Then, using the same saucepan, melted 2 tablespoons of butter, added a cup of granola and ½ cup of brown sugar, mix them together over low heat and spread it over the fruit. Baked at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until the topping is browned. Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy this down-home dessert 🙂
Besides being quicker and easier to make than a pie because there’s no dough involved, I wondered what exactly differentiates a crisp from a crumble, betty, slump, grunt, etc. (Where do they get these names is my next question!) I perused a few sites and recipetips.com had the best descriptions:
A crisp has baked fruit as the bottom layer and is topped with a crumbly topping which includes brown sugar, oatmeal and nuts that are mixed with the butter, flour and cinnamon that is spread over the baked fruit.
A crumble is a dessert with a crumb topping made from flour, sugar, and butter combined into a mixture that is sprinkled over sliced fruit and baked. The topping is made up of basically the same ingredients as a pastry except it doesn’t contain any liquid. When the crumble bakes the butter melts and mixes with the flour and sugar to create a crunchy, crumbly topping. A crumble is very similar to a crisp except that the topping for a crisp generally contains oats and often nuts, giving it a coarser texture that the crumbles toppings.
A Betty is a baked pudding made of layers of spiced and sugared fruit topped with buttered bread crumbs. Brown Betty is a name given to an early era baked pudding dessert made by those who came to America during the 1600’s. There are now numerous variations of this dessert that use many different types of fruit, but the most well known is Apple Brown Betty or simply Brown Betty. A combination of tart apples, (Granny Smith and Gala work well or other combinations of two to three semi-tart varieties) are cut into slices and mixed with sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice. Pieces of bread are torn and baked or browned on the stovetop in butter, basically creating breadcrumbs to be used as a layer or filling. The sweetened and seasoned fruit is then layered with the breadcrumbs to form a baked pudding of fruit and crispy breadcrumbs that is served warm and is often topped with whipped cream or ice cream.
A grunt is a spoon pie with biscuit dough on top of stewed fruit that is steamed, not baked. A popular dessert on the east coast, it consists of fruit, most often berries, which are cooked beneath a crust of biscuit or dumpling type dough. The Grunt was named for the echo of sounds coming from the bubbling fruit under the dough as it cooks. A Grunt is similar in preparation to the Slump with the exception that the Grunt is steam cooked and the Slump is baked.
A slump is a dessert that is basically the same as a grunt as far as ingredients and construction. It consists of fruit, berries, or a mixture of fruit and berries, which are cooked beneath a crust of biscuit or dumpling type dough. The difference between the grunt and the slump is that the slump is baked uncovered instead of steamed. Some recipes call for it to be cooked on the stovetop and others use the oven. The slump was given its name because when served on a plate it has a tendency to slump.
So there you have it! Everything you ever wanted to know about oddly named fruit desserts that are not pies, cobbler, buckles, or clafoutis 🙂 Have a fantastic weekend!