Plum Cobbler

Repeat after me: a cobbler is not the same as a crisp, and neither are the same as a crumble. Or a buckle, a pandowdy, a betty, or a puzzle. Slump, maybe, but only the cobbler. Don’t even get me started on grunts. Who came up with these names??

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It should come as no surprise that just like there are regional differences in how traditional dishes are made in Greece (or any other country, for that matter), there will be variations even in countries as young as the United States. It doesn’t take much time for someone to encounter a recipe and decide to put their own twist on it and call it something new.

Eventually those variations begin to have discernable “rules” as to how they will be made in order to make them distinct from other similar foods. Crumbles, crisps, betties, buckles, boy baits (I love that name!), cobblers, pandowdies, etc. are all variations on a similar theme: summer fruits cooked in some sort of pastry that isn’t a pie. Sometimes the names are used interchangeably, but not pie. Pie seems to be the one thing we all agree on.

Though the origin of the name “cobbler” is unclear, the modern interpretation is that the pastry used to make this delicious dessert resembles cobbles, like those used in a cobblestone street. The dough is put together in pieces, allowing the sweetened fruit juices to bubble up through the crust. Another name used to describe this appearance is “slump”, because that’s what the topping seems to do. I like the cobbler name better. Slump just seems so… so… slumpy. Not appetizing.

Whatever you call it, the more common way of making a cobbler is to have a topping made from a type of biscuit dough. Some use batter poured over the top, or a rolled out biscuit dough, that is pushed into the fruit juices halfway through baking. However, those are usually referred to as a pandowdy (maybe due to its less than glamorous appearance?).

For me, a cobbler has always been a deep dish dessert made with sweetened fruit and topped with a lightly sweet biscuit dough. The dough is arranged in pieces over the fruit so that it takes on that cobblestone appearance, and then those cobbles are used to soak up that lovely juice that comes from the fruit. There are no thickeners added, so there will be a lot of liquid to soak up. It can be served with a side of ice cream or a topping of whipped cream, or just as is. And it will be delicious.

Some quick notes before you begin:

This recipe is a great way for me to use our more tart plums that we grow. However, those plums require a little more sugar to compensate for that tartness. If you are using plums that are already sweet, you might want to use the lower amount of sugar listed.

You are not limited to plums in this recipe. It will work fantastically with peaches, nectarines, apricots, or any other similar fruit. The juicier the fruit type, the better in my opinion.

I really enjoy the sweet-tart flavor of more acidic fruit in recipes like this. If the fruit you are using doesn’t have a little “zing” to it, you may want to use the lemon juice to add a little more pop to the flavor. Trust me, it really makes a difference. More tart fruits won’t need it, though.

There is no thickener added to a cobbler as the biscuits are meant to be used to soak up the liquid as you eat. Some people even put the biscuit in the dish first and spoon the fruit over the top as it’s being served. That is up to you. The biscuit recipe can be found in this post here.

Aim to make your biscuits similar in size and somewhat evenly spaced. This way they will cook uniformly. You don’t want overdone cobbles while others are still raw inside. Not tasty.

I highly recommend dividing the biscuit dough into either 12 or 15 pieces for this size of dish. Too many more and the biscuits will be too small and will be overcooked before the fruit is done. Too few and the biscuits will be too large and will be burnt on the edges while still undercooked in the middle.

Plum Cobbler

  • Difficulty: easier than figuring out where the name pandowdy came from
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  • 2 1/2 pounds pitted plums
  • 3/4 to 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 to 2 tsp. lemon juice (optional, use for less tart fruit)
  • 1 recipe Sweet Cream Biscuits


Cut your fruit into quarters (or eighths if very large) and place in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top of the fruit and do the same for the lemon juice if using. Gently stir to combine and spread the fruit out in the dish. Set the dish aside while you make the biscuits and preheat the oven to 375 F.

Make one batch of the Sweet Cream Biscuits recipe (post here). Divide the dough evenly into 12 or 15 pieces. Gently roll each piece into a ball, then flatten it a little into a disk. The dough does not have to be perfectly round! Space each piece of dough evenly over the fruit.

Bake the cobbler in your preheated oven for 45 minutes. The juices from the fruit should be bubbling throughout and the biscuits should be a golden brown.

Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool somewhat. The cobbler will be best if it is served warm but does not have to be hot. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or top with whipped cream, or just as is. Enjoy!


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