The Language of Apple

Mmmm! It smells like cinnamon in the desserterie!

Imagine that you are right next to me, Dear Readers, as you inhale that wonderful perfume tickling the home-sweet-home sensations of your nose and heart.

Years ago, my mind was programmed to associate the warm homey aroma of cinnamon with an unspoken, “I love you!”

As a little girl when I would walk into our farm home at the end of a country school day, I might have inhaled that luxurious fragrance prior to spotting cinnamon rolls or apple pie resting on a metal cooling rack on Mom’s 1950’s fashionably red counter top.

When reminiscing about my own first experience baking with the combination of apples, butter, cinnamon, and sugar, I remember turning to Mom’s black hard-covered, loose-leaf cookbook authored by Edith Hansen, one of the then premier radio homemakers. I was about eight years old at the time and explored those pages and pages of author-tested dessert recipes until I came upon a recipe for Apple Brown Betty.

What’s That?!?

Dear Readers, I had heard of apple pie, apple crisp, apple cobbler, apple cake, and apple crunch but never of apple Betty. What was it? How should I make it? It was as if the apple when applied to butter/cinnamon/sugar baking took on an unsung language.

In the arena of the Apple-Everything language, there are some unusual members. Consider this vocabulary that is identified with the A-fruit known to keep the doctor away–buckle, grunt, Betty, crumble, cobbler, crisp, and slump. As the word, Apple, can preface each member of this vocab, when lined up side by side, is there any difference among the final baked results?

The truth to the matter at hand has been discovered at Dear Readers. Note the following information and discover your favorite apple language.

“All of these desserts have some common element. Nearly every one involves fruit, butter, sugar and flour in one way or another. The differences are definitely fewer than the similarities.”

“A crumble is a baked dish of fresh fruit (apples, berries, plums, etc.) that is topped with an oat-based streusel.” Ahh, the key word here is “oatmeal,” Dear Readers.

“A crisp is exactly like a crumble except there are no oats in the streusel. That makes the crisp topping more like sweet, buttery, crumbled pie crust.”

“A buckle layers a more traditional cakey batter underneath the fruit. As the dessert cooks, the cake rises around the fruit which tries its best to sink to the bottom, making the whole thing buckle inwards.”

“A true cobbler is topped with individually dropped biscuits. When the dish bakes and the biscuits puff up, they look like a cobblestone street, hence the name cobbler.”

Grunts and Slumps

Great news! A grunt and a slump are exactly the same thing. Grunts and slumps are just like cobblers, only instead of being baked in the oven, they are cooked covered, entirely on the stove top. This process  steams the biscuits on top of the fruit, rather than bakes them.”  The outcome would be that the biscuits have a moister texture when steamed versus when having been baked—all sans pan cover.

Now, where does this “grunt” language come into play? It’s all about the sound the fruit makes as the bubbly fruit works its way around the biscuit dough during the baking process. Miss NiNi supposes the job to be quite difficult for the sweet fruit! After all, it does acquire an audible expressive “I’m-working-hard” voice while baking its way to perfection!

“Slump” is a descriptor related to the finished product. When dishing this beautiful apple dessert that has already conversed with us, one might think that it worked so hard while baking that it then cannot hold itself together when served. It slumps all over the plate. I bet it still tastes fantastic though!

But back to the apple language of my youth–Apple Betty—a Betty uses the same kind of crumbs as a crisp but there is a crumb layer under the fruit as well as on top of the fruit. If you love buttery cinnamon sugary crumbs, this is your mother tongue of apple desserts, Dear Readers!

Oh, those amazing apple desserts! Understanding the language of Apple is almost a tongue-twister of the mind! However, Miss NiNi knows that when baked together, apples, butter, cinnamon, and sugar are yummy in any language! Let me know what apple dessert is your favorite!