Pie season is approaching. Really – is there anything more satisfying than fruit doctored with sugar and spices, cooked to a juicy pulp with a crust to mop everything up with? If pie seems too much of an effort on a week night, a crumble or a crisp is definitely easier to organize and most ingredients will be in your pantry.

I am often asked the difference between the never-ending and seemingly interchangeable fruit desserts that have mushroomed in the Anglo-Saxon world over the centuries: betty, cobbler, crisp and crumble. By no means the last word but the following might clarify the subject matter for those of you who are curious:

Betty – Layers of sweetened and spiced fruit and buttered bread crumbs or light dough.

cobbler – A fruit pie with no bottom crust but with biscuit dough haphazardly dropped on top of the fruit prior to baking.

Crisp – Same as above but the topping is typically a streusel of some sort

Crumble – Very similar to a crisp but the topping is lighter than a dough but heavier than a streusel.

If you are more confused than before, just  move on to the recipe here below and take my word for it. It’s a crisp.


4 C             Stone fruit, roughly chopped (peaches, nectarines, apricots or plums)

1 C             Mixed Berries

1/4 C         Sugar

1/2 ts        Cinnamon

1/4 ts         Ginger

a pinch of salt

4 oz          Butter, cubed and very cold

3/4 C       All Purpose Flour

1/2 C       Brown Sugar

1/2 C       Rolled Oats (not instant)

1. Combine all the fruit in a bowl. Add sugar, spices and salt. Mix gently and transfer to a 9″ pie pan.

2. Place butter in a food processor and add brown sugar and flour. Pulse until the butter is pea sized pieces (if you don’t have a food processor, put everything in a bowl and use your hands). Add oats and mix by hand.

3. Spread the streusel over the fruit and bake at 375 for about 30/40 mins or until the fruit is bubbling and juice and the topping is browned.


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