Crunch, Crisp, Cobbler or Crumble?

People often get crunches, crisps, crumbles and cobblers confused.  I mean, they’re all baked fruit desserts (not to mention they all begin with “c”), so I kind of understand, but there are some distinctive differences in what’s going on under or above the fruity filling.  Here is some clarification:

A crunch has both a crumb crust and a crumb topping.  The crust is often made of the same ingredients as the crumb topping, but pressed into the bottom of the pan before topping with fruit.

Both crisps and crumbles have a crumb topping sprinkled over the fruit before baking. Traditionally, a crisp included rolled oats which “crisped” while baking; a crumble did not. Over time, the lines have blurred on this one, and I think a crisp and a crumble are pretty much considered the same thing these days.

Now, a cobbler is a horse of a completely different color.  It has a biscuit topping that is dropped over the fruit.  When baked, the top of the dessert has a “cobbled” look, as in cobble-stoned street.  My hunch is that baked fruit desserts that use cake mix-type or even cookie dough toppings would also fall under the category of cobbler.

While we’re on the subject, I feel compelled to share with you my favorite-to-date crumb topping.  I use it in both crunches and crumbles, as well as on muffins, Dutch apple pies and over some coffee cakes.  You can certainly add nuts, if that makes you happy.  You can also make huge batches of this in order to set some back for the freezer.

1 c. flour
1 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. softened butter
1 t. cinnamon (if desired)

Mix thoroughly and do good with the results.


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