If You're Topping Cobbler With Pie Crust, You're Making A Big Mistake

Turns out, there is quite a bit of vocabulary when it comes to baked and stewed-fruit desserts. You've got cobblers and pies, but you've also got crisps, crumbles, buckles, slumps, and brown betties. You could even throw the clafoutis into the family of seriously delicious desserts you can make with fruit. All these desserts include a fruit filling with some kind of topping. There are a lot of similarities across them all, but also some key differences.

For example, in both a crisp and a crumble, fruit is covered with a streusel topping before baking. However, a crisp usually contains oats and nuts, while a crumble typically uses a more simple combination of flour, sugar, and butter. A brown betty uses a streusel-like topping that incorporates breadcrumbs and layers it between the fruit instead of just on top. For a buckle, the fruit is topped with a yellow cake batter. The name comes from the fact that the cake buckles around the fruit as it bakes.

A cobbler may be the most well-known of all these desserts, and so many of these other desserts are often mistakenly referred to as such. A cobbler however tops the fruit with dollops of sweetened biscuit dough before baking. A slump is prepared similarly but is steamed stove-top rather than baked.

A cobbler topped with pie crust is not a cobbler at all

There is an exception to every rule, of course. A Southern-style cobbler, like this Texas-style peach cobbler recipe, uses lots of fruit and a cake batter, notes King Arthur Baking. Sometimes called a cake cobbler, it is really more like a buckle, but delicious nonetheless. Most commonly you will find cobblers topped with those characteristic cobblestones of biscuit dough. 

One thing is for sure though — a cobbler is never topped with pie crust. A fruit filling topped with pie crust is actually called a "pandowdy," so if you've been making a "cobbler" with pie dough on top, you've really been making a pandowdy all along. In a pandowdy, the crust is broken up and pressed into the fruit partway through cooking, also known as "dowdying the crust" (via New England Today). While a pandowdy can be tasty in its own right, it is simply not a cobbler. 

Cobblers are known for the delicious different textures that develop, notes Slate. The biscuit dough that comes in contact with the caramelizing fruit gets a pillowy delicate crumb, while the tops get delightfully crisp. The fruit of course concentrates in flavor and lets out all of its natural juices. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and there is no better treat.