When I was at school and just starting to learn Rudyard Kipling's classic poem If, my mom told me a story that tickled me pink and that I think of to this day every time I see Kipling's name. It went like this:
He: "Do you like Kipling, my dear?"
She: I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never kippled!"
I only discovered years later that this was not an actual coversation, but the text from a saucy postcard produced by one Donald McGill, an English graphic artist who'se name has become synonymous with the particular genre of saucy postcars usually sold in English seaside towns.
Until recently, I could say much the same thing about cobblers. Did I like them? How could I tell, as I'd never cobbled! Oh, of course I'd fooled around with a few crisps and crumbles, but that was just the usual college experimentation My cobbler cherry was, so to speak, still intact. So what, I hear you ask, is the difference between these crusty desserts?
A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough shell that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients.
A tart is a pastry dish, usually sweet, that is a type of pie with an open top that is not covered with pastry.
A crisp is a type of dessert, usually consisting of a type of fruit, baked with a crispy topping, hence the name. The topping usually consists of butter, flour, oats, brown sugar and usually spices such as cinnamon and/or nutmeg.
A crumble is a dish of British origin containing stewed fruit topped with a crumbly mixture of fat (usually butter), flour, and sugar.
A cobbler: In the United States, it is usually a dessert consisting of a fruit filling poured into a large baking dish over a batter that rises through when baking. The batter forms as a dumpling within the cobbler as well as a crust for the top. In the United Kingdom it is usually a savoury meat dish, typically a lamb casserole, which is covered with a savoury scone-like topping—each scone (or biscuit) forming a separable cobbler.
So as if it weren't enough that the Brits and the Yanks can't agree on a single measurement system, it seems they also both have a different take on what a cobbler is! I had always pictured a cobbler as the British version, so I was quite surprised when the batter turned out to be far too sloppy to be described as scone-like. I thought perhaps my oven was going to give birth to the bastard child of a cobbler and a clafoutis (a clafler? A cobloutis?). But in fact, it was an American-style cobbler. And oh boy, was it delicious! The idea had been to use up the ton of disappointingly mealy Gala apples in the fridge, and it must be said, this is a fabulous way to use up less-than-perfect apples. The initial sprinkle of sugar over the apples creates a caramelly sauce beneath the amber crust, and the pecan nuts provide texture. In fact, it is probably better described as the lovechild of my self-saucing apple caramel pudding and a pecan pie . Guests at the lunch where I served this positively demolished the pudding – even those that don't usually like dessert – and that's always the best compliment in my book.
(Recipe from CD Kitchen)
APPLE PECAN COBBLER (serves 8)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon (ground)
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, divided
4 cups apples, sliced (but not necessary to peel)
1 cup flour, sifted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup melted butter
Mix sugar, cinnamon and 1/2 cup of pecans. Place apples on the bottom of a large (about 25 x 15cm) greased baking dish. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar & pecan mix over the apples.
Sift dry ingredients together. Mix the egg, milk and melted butter and add to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.
Pour the mixture over the apples and sprinkle the top of the dish with the remaining pecans. Bake at 325F (170C) for about 55 minutes or until golden brown and set.
Serve hot, with cream or ice-cream.