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Fresh Cherry Cobbler for Memorial Day

The perfect way to kick off the summer, fresh Cherry Cobbler for Memorial Day! (all photos from Deborah Brooks)

One person’s cobbler is another person’s buckle is another person’s grunt is another person’s crumble is another person’s crisp! Or is it? I found out that after many years of baking what I called a fruit cobbler, was, by definition, a fruit crisp. While I had made many versions of fruit crisps, I had never made a true cobbler so decided to add that to my repertoire of baked goods.

If you’ve been wondering about the similarities and differences of all of the crazy names for baked fruit desserts, here’s a quick breakdown of the most popular.

Let’s start with the main similarity. All of these versions are baked fruit desserts that forgo the traditional rolled pie crust which makes them much easier to assemble.

Here are the differences, that I found, from my research:

Cobbler: Literally cobbled together. There are two versions of cobbler. The first, with a cake like-dough on the bottom, that starts with a layer of melted butter and then a layer of batter and then a layer of sweetened fruit which becomes enveloped in the batter as the dough rises. The second is with the sweetened fruit on the bottom and then a more biscuit-like dough dropped on top.

Buckle: This is like a coffee cake with plain fruit strewn on top of a batter. The fruit falls into the batter and the dough buckles.

Grunt: From New England, this dessert is similar to a cobbler as it has a buttermilk biscuit dough strewn on top of sweetened fruit. It’s often baked in a cast iron pan.

Crumble: A dessert with its origins in England, this is sweetened fruit with a crumbly streusel of butter, flour and sugar covering the top. Crumbles are often found on restaurant dessert menus.

Crisp: This is a first cousin to the crumble but adds oats and sometimes nuts for a “crisper” streusel layer topping.

Truthfully, each one of the above desserts are delicious unto themselves. Shakespeare said it best when he proclaimed “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” That works for “cobblers,” too!

What makes this version stand out is that its just the right amount of sweetness, with a crust that is crisp on the edges while soft and pillowy inside. I added nutmeg to the crust which should be in every cherry recipe as they are a match made in heaven. The fruit filling is dense and syrupy without that overly cloying and gluey consistency of typical cherry pies. Fresh squeezed orange juice adds a zesty balance to the added sugar. Best of all, it has passed the hubby test, which is saying a lot as he “hates cherry pie!” because of that goopy consistency. Though he was reluctant to try at first, he’s already enjoyed two large squares.

This dessert is relatively easy to make, even for beginner bakers, as there’s no need for fancy gadgets (other than a cherry pitter) or fussing over a perfectly composed crust that you pray will be flaky. It’s pretty foolproof. You simply layer melted butter, then the batter and then the fruit and let the heat of the oven do it’s magic. The crust rises up and over the fruit as it bakes. It’s quite a feat of kitchen chemistry. Bless the chef who figured that out.

Do try what is now my favorite baked fruit dessert this Memorial Day. You can bake it early in the day and let it sit on the counter until ready to serve to free you up for other cooking tasks. I topped squares of the cobbler with Trader Joe’s canned coconut whipped cream which is as good as homemade. Vanilla ice cream would be divine as well.

This recipe used almost 5 cups of fresh cherries.

A few Chef’s Tips:

  • I used almost 5 cups of cherries (measured with stems and pits) as I like a lot of fruit filling. You can cut back to 4 cups if you like a more dough-forward cobbler. Be sure to pick cherries that are firm and have bright and shiny skin. I haven’t used frozen cherries. It will probably be a bit more watery if you choose to do that. But why? It’s cherry season! I don’t recommend canned fruit. As for pitting the fresh cherries, it’s so much easier if you have a cherry pitter. Please note that it starts to look like a crime scene in very little time. Make sure to cover your counter with a protective layer such as a large cutting board under where you’ll be pitting the cherries. Have a damp sponge or paper towel to pick up sprayed cherry juice.
  • If using nutmeg, buy the whole nutmeg pods and fresh grate what you need on a cheese grater. It’s a game changer, especially if you think you don’t like nutmeg. Or you can swap out the nutmeg for ground cinnamon or ground ginger.
  • If you want to serve warm cobbler you can bake it closer to your dinner time. I haven’t tried reheating the pan in the oven, but I’m sure that would work, similar to reheating a pie, at 300 degrees until warmed. Just watch that the crust doesn’t burn. Cover with foil if necessary.
  • You can swap out the fresh squeezed orange juice for lemon juice if you prefer the filling a bit more piquant.
  • Refrigerate leftovers. You can freeze the cobbler as well, but I recommend cutting into squares and separating layers of cobbler with wax paper.

Fresh Cherry Cobbler
Serves 10-12
I recommend a cherry pitter for the cherries
You will also need a 9 x 12 glass or ceramic baking pan

For the fruit filling:
4-5 cups fresh sweet red cherries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 T cornstarch
2 T fresh squeezed orange juice

For the batter:
6 ounces cold vegan butter
1 cup AP flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg or spice of choice
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup organic cane sugar
3/4 cup creamy oat milk or plant milk of choice. Higher fat content is better.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Wash and dry the cherries well. De-stem and pit the cherries using a cherry pitter. Cut the cherries in half and put in a bowl.

In a medium sized saucepan large enough to hold the cherries, mix together the sugar, cornstarch and orange juice until well combined. Add the cherries and cook on medium heat until the fruit is gently bubbling and the juices are thickening. About 5 minutes. Stay near the stove and stir up occasionally to prevent burnt fruit. Remove pan from heat and set aside to cool a bit.

Cut the butter in chunks and strew in your 9 x 12 baking pan. Put it in the oven on the middle rack and leave it just until the butter is melted. Keep an eye on it while making the batter.

To make the batter mix the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and salt until well combined. Add the sugar and incorporate into the flour mixture. Add the milk and stir until well combined and no lumps.

Pour the batter over the melted butter layer in a ribbon-like motion. Smooth the batter gently to cover the butter but don’t stir it up.

Spoon the cherries with the syrup all over the batter layer as evenly as possible. It’s okay if there are some bare batter spots, especially near the edges and in the corners.

Put the pan back in the oven and bake 45-55 minutes until the top and edges are lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling. You’ll see the magic as the dough rises up and over much of the fruit filling.

Remove from the oven and set on a cooking rack.

Can be eaten warm or at room temperature. Or if you’re like me right outta the fridge

Chill leftovers in the fridge. Can be frozen.


A cherry pitter is a handy tool for removing the pits.
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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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