Fresh fruit is everywhere these days, which means its the perfect time for pies, cobblers and grunts.
That sounds like the set-up for a joke. “How do you make a blueberry grunt …?”
A grunt is a baked fruit dish with dumplings on top that is usually made as a topping for ice cream. It’s not thick like a pie or cobbler. It’s especially popular with people who don’t have much time on their hands.
It comes from the East Coast, according to wiseGeek.com: “For people who have a lot of fruit but no energy to make a pie, a grunt is an excellent alternative. It is said that the East Coast dessert is called a grunt because of the noises the fruit makes while it is cooked. An alternate name for the dessert is ‘slump,’ a reference to the way the biscuit dough slumps into the berries as it cooks. Whatever it’s called, a grunt can be served hot or cold, with accompaniments like whipped cream or ice cream, and the recipe can be endlessly adjusted to suit different tastes and seasonally available to fruit.”
The following recipe is from Alisa Huntsman’s “Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe” (Artisan, $24.95). “There is some debate over whether a grunt should be cooked covered on the stove to steam the dumplings or placed in the oven to bake them,” she writes. “In this quick and easy version, the berries are simmered on top of the stove in a cast-iron skillet. After a few minutes, biscuit dumplings are dolloped on top and the dessert is then transferred to the oven.”
A word of caution. The sauce can be extremely sweet. I would leave at least 1/4 cup sugar out of the sauce the next time I make it.
4 cups fresh berries— any combination of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup sugar, or less, to taste
1 inch of vanilla bean, split lengthwise in half, or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the berries in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Add the orange juice, sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon and cardamom. bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.
Drop 12 to 14 tablespoon-size dollops of dumpling dough over the top o the fruit, leaving small spaces in between.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until the dumplings are lightly browned. Allow the grunt to cool for 15 minutes. To serve, place a scoop of ice cream in a serving dish and top with a portion of fruit and dumplings.
Makes 4 servings.
Sweet Cream Dumplings
3/4 cup unbleached flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup heavy cream
Combine the flour, sugar and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add the butter cubes and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pour in the cream and stir to form a soft dough. Use at once.
Makes 12 to 14 dumplings.
From “Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe: Simple Southern Pies, Puddings, Cakes, and Cobblers from Nashville’s Landmark Restaurant” by Alisa Huntsman