Plum Cobbler

Cobbler, slump, or grunt; have you heard of these desserts? Most people can recognize a cobbler, a fruit dessert baked in a casserole with a dough topping but with no bottom crust. A slump or grunt is almost the same thing except that they are simmered on the stove, resulting in a steamed dumpling-like top. Supposedly one dessert is named after how the dumplings look (they slump) and the other after the sound the bubbling fruit makes (it grunts). All three are considered New England specialties dating back to Colonial times, when they would have been made in a cast-iron pan over a fire. Luckily we now have the luxury of using a stove or oven.

Many fruits make wonderful cobblers, slumps, or grunts. Apples are very well known in cobblers, but I like mine with stone fruit, especially peaches or plums. Nectarines and cherries, or a combination of all of the above would work extremely well too.

Recently I picked up a few pints of very nice red plums at Sherwood Farm in Easton, CT. Lately they have become one of my favorite farm markets selling a little bit of every fruit and vegetable. When I saw those bright red plums, I immediately knew that I was going to make one of these simple and homey desserts.

I wasn't sure at first which one I would choose to create. I decided upon a cobbler, baked in the oven, because I prefer the dough topping to be more biscuit- or even scone-like. And plus I didn't want to get my stove covered in red spater. Instead of pouring a loose batter over the plums, I dollop spoonfuls of thick dough over the fruit, creating almost individual cobblers. Once baked and slightly cooled, it's easy to scoop the biscuits with the fruit into bowls. Then just serve with vanilla ice cream, which will slowly melt into the ruby red sauce of the plums. There's no better dessert than a luscious plum cobbler.

Plum Cobbler

2 pounds red plums, halved and pitted
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
1 tablespoon potato or corn starch
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine plums, 1/3 cup sugar, and Cognac in a large bowl. Let macerate for 10 minutes.

In a small cup, combine potato starch and 2 tablespoons of the plum liquid; stir until smooth. Pour back into bowl and stir to combine. Pour plums and all their liquid into a 10-inch glass pie dish.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt. Mix together with a whisk to aerate

Add butter and work with a pastry blender until mixture resembles course meal.

Make a well in the center. Add milk and egg. Mix until dough comes together. A little more milk can be added if mixture is too dry.

Spoon dollops of dough over the plums, making about 6 to 8 lumps. Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips. Set in the oven and bake until plums are bubbling and top is light golden, about 45 minutes.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


Joseph Erdos is a New York–based writer and editor, but above all a gastronomer and oenophile. He shares his passion for food on his blog, Gastronomer's Guide , which features unique recipes and restaurant reviews among many other musings on the all-encompassing topic of food.