Why Hello there, and welcome back to Kitchen Catastrophes’ Culinary Compendium of Cooking Cant, our exceptionally alliterative attempt to itemize and allocate definitions and explanations to cooking terms, with heaps of humor mixed in for spice.
Today’s Compendium is our most niche yet, focusing not on a branch of techniques or field of cooking, but on the nuances within a class of dishes. What makes a dish a cobbler, crisp or crumble? Well, you’re in the right place to find out. Let’s pop out our baking dishes, and slump back in our chairs as we dig in to this topic.
1. (n) A woman’s name, derived either from Elizabeth, from the Hebrew Elisheva (which makes more sense when you know B and V are the same letter in Hebrew) meaning “My God is abundance/plentiful/an oath” or from Beatri(ce)/x, from the Latin meaning either “she who makes happy/blesses” or “she who travels”, depending. (because in LATIN, V and B were PRONOUNCED much the same, so Beatrix might be a misrepresentation of Viatrix.) Notable holders are Black Betty, famous for having a child, and my grandma.
2. (n) A great and powerful sorcerer
Your clothes are Blue!
3. (n) BETTY/BROWN ~ / APPLE BROWN ~: An American dessert like a COBBLER or CRUMBLE consisting of fruit and starch, specifically sweetened crumbs. Notable for layering the crumbs between layers of fruit. Most often made with Apples (hence the third name) but also made with pears and berries. A favored dessert of the Reagans, because of COURSE they ate something that was basically humble Apple Pie.
1. (n) a poor man’s PUDDING.
2. (n) an old man’s CRUMBLE
3. (n) a dish consisting of a layer of fruit (or savory ingredients/meat in Britain/British Colonies) covered with a layer of dough, batter, or dumplings, before baking.
4. ETYMOLOGY: Unverified. Some reports indicate that biscuit or dumpling dough placed on top reminded people of Cobblestones. Others indicate an origin connected to cobeler, a wooden bowl. Or, since some claim that it is an attempt to replicate more traditional Suet PUDDINGS, it’s possible it might have been originally called “Cobbled Pudding”, in the sense of “cobbling something together”.
5. (n) A shoe-maker and repairer. Most prominently seen in obscure animated films
“Alright, Jon, we’re writing a post about very particular terms in baking.”
”We need jokes to break up the minutiae.”
”I think that was the singular form.”
”Shut up. The E makes it plural. Anyway, what do you think will really connect with our readers for our first two picture gags?”
”Umm… a reference to a 16-year old comedy, and a reference to a movie released 3 different times under 3 different names 23-25 years ago?”
”…you beautiful madman. Put. it. in. the post. .”
1. (n) a relatively recent, mostly American offshoot of the Pudding-Cobbler-Crumble lineage, consisting of fruit (typically apples) topped with specifically either an oatmeal topping, or a streusel topping, as opposed to a dough-based topping. First recorded in the 1920’s.
1. (v) to break or fall into small pieces.
2. (v) what the Sky will do after it Falls, while we stand tall and face it all, together
3. (n) a dish that grew popular in England during World War 2 as a substitute for pies, where a filling, often fruit-based, but also savory, would be topped with flour/breadcrumbs mixed with fat and either sugar (if sweet) or cheese (if savory), and baked.
4. Seriously, these savory crumble recipes I’m looking at sound rad. Creamy Leeks with garlic and parmesan? Butternut squash in a harissa-spiced red sauce with bleu cheese in the crumble? Beef and Cheddar? Okay, that last one isn’t super involved, but it’s still pretty nice.
1. (n) Not to be confused with a “cake dump”, which is what all cake eventually becomes.
2. (n) A cobbler made with less effort, typically by just pouring cake mix on top of fruit before baking.
A quick visual reminder that a recipe being “stupidly simple” doesn’t mean it can’t also be “stupidly delicious”.
1. (n) What a child says they have after burning their hand on a skillet.
2. (n) a really weird entry into this continuum, as it is relatively old (recorded back in the 1880s), and consisting of, originally: baking an apple pie in a casserole dish, then breaking up (‘dowdying’) the crust, and mixing it into the apple filling to absorb the liquid.
3. (n) Thus, probably a really good cover for a turn of the century housewife just really messing up a pie.
1. (n) while understood in America to refer to a gelatinous or creamy dessert, a Pudding in England encompasses a broader array of desserts, (and indeed, non dessert options) As we’ve covered before, this is from a long chain of etymologies: originally, “pudding” came from boudin which is French for a small sausage. England then used this term to refer to things cooked like sausage, namely, “mixed assortments placed in a sack and steamed, boiled, or baked”, from which they made many dishes that Americans would consider ‘cakes’ or ‘biscuits’.
2. SUET ~: A mixture of beef fat, dried fruits, flour and spices. It is THIS recipe that, supposedly, the earlier cobbler makers were attempting to replicate with their baked creation.
And, to be fair, if you were aiming to make THIS, it’s clear why they called the other dish a “cobbled together mess”.
Side fact: This is actually a specific variety of suet pudding that has been referenced in almost every American comedy about English people. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is the infamous spotted dick.
1. (n) a period of time wherein any sports team has not immediately won, or appears to be about to win, the given championship title of their sport. Can last up to 100 years.
2. (n) one of many variations of cobblers that are cooked on the stove-top. Also called “buckles” if made with cake mix, or “grunts”/”squeakers” (for the noises they make while cooking) Otherwise mostly identical to the baked version.
1. (n) A North Carolina variant of the cobbler, a sonker is notable for having batter/dough on both the top AND bottom of the dish, making it arguably a deep-dish pie.
2. (n) A rude name to call a goose.
Geese are, of course, absolute monsters, so it’s morally justifiable to be rude to them pretty much all the time.
Lastly: these definitions are what my research indicates the names refer to. In a given area, you may find ‘crisps’ called “cobblers” or vice versa, you may even find that different people in the same region use different names for different options. That’s just the nature of these kind of recipes, which are frequently ‘round-up’ dishes for a home (As in, “round-up what ingredients we have, and let’s see what we can make.”) My grandmother probably has definite opinions on what the difference between a crisp, a crumble, and a cobbler are, and they may not match up to what I’ve laid out here. And trust me, while I believe that Truth is an important ideal, and has value, this particular truth’s value is not “higher than Christmas Dinner and Presents”, you feel me?
The next few days are going to be a little tight, schedule wise, but hopefully I should get everything in order so that we don’t miss a step. It’s closing weekend for my Newport show, and then I’ll have to squeeze in 5 hours of driving to get home. So if Monday’s post is a little late, my apologies. But hopefully I’ll be able to crank it out in the next 2 days so it’s stacked and ready to go before I hit the road. See y’all Monday!
MONDAY: JON MAKES SOMETHING LIKE A SOUP, WITH…RESULTS.
THURSDAY: I KIND OF WANT TO DO A MEANDERING AMERICA’S MENUS, SINCE NEVADA’S BEEN POPPING UP IN CONVERSATION OF LATE, BUT I HATE DOING THOSE RIGHT AFTER COMPENDIUMS. WE’LL SEE WHICH IMPULSE WINS OUT.