Grunts, slumps, buckles and fools are among the sweet wonders of my student life in New England. Back home, we had crisps and cobblers and maybe a trifle or two. And then elsewhere there are pandowdies and even a brown betty. Colorful names that probably have an interesting history but are not remotely descriptive of the dessert itself. Whatever the moniker, these rustic baked fruit desserts are wonderful comfort food, perfect for the start of the school year when the weather becomes crisp but the bounty of summer lingers on.
Over the years I’ve diminished the amount of butter I used to use for the crisp’s topping, and therefore the crust in this version was a little dry. The taste and texture were not an issue but I improved the dish visually by serving it upside down. The combination of peaches, plums and raspberries was delicious, and much more interesting than a single fruit, except for the classic made with apples. Won’t be long now.
Juice of 1 lemon
½ – ½ c white sugar
1 tbsp instant tapioca
½ – 1 cup raspberries
1/3 c soft butter
1/3 c flour
2/3 c rolled oatmeal
1/3 c brown sugar, packed
¼ tsp ground cardamom or another spice that complements the fruit
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the fruit. To peel the peaches, bring a small pot of water to a boil, drop in the peaches one by one and plunge them quickly into a bowl of ice water. Slip the skin off with a paring knife and cut the peaches into rough chunks, dropping them into a 6-cup baking dish into which you’ve poured the lemon juice. Add the sliced plums and the sugar and stir gently to combine. Place the raspberries on top.
Combine the topping ingredients and pat them lightly into a crust on top of the fruit. Bake for about 45 minutes until the top is browned and the fruit is bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Pour a little heavy cream on top, or serve with whipped cream or ice cream or just plain. Serves four or more (or less if you just love this).