Baked Fruit Desserts: Crisps, Cobblers, Betties and More

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For a true locavore, spring is a time of transition.  Roast the last of the stored beets, chop up any lingering cabbages and scour the freezer for remaining fruit.

Leftover fruit?  That’s a bonus!

And what better destination for icy sliced peaches, frosty blueberries or even fresh fruit than a baked fruit dessert!  When you combine the health value of fruit and the joy of dessert, how can you go wrong? 

Of course, baked fruit desserts come in many different varieties. Crisps, cobblers, buckles, Brown Betties…How’s a baker to decide?

A Guide to Baked Fruit Desserts


A crisp, sometimes called a crumble, is a fruit dessert where fruit is topped with crumbs of flour, oatmeal and sugar, then baked.  One of the most basic fruit desserts, it is super-easy and amenable to changing up for special diets.  Gluten-free?  Use a gluten-free oatmeal and flour.  Sugar-free? Sweeten with maple syrup or stevia.

Photo by Inger Wilkerson


A cobbler is a baked fruit dessert crowned with a clumpy, biscuit-like topping.  In one version, the dough is dolloped atop oven-ready fruit, while in another, dough is spread on the pan bottom and magically rises over the fruit while baking.

A slump or grunt is a variation on a cobbler that is cooked stovetop in a lidded pan rather then baked in the oven.


A clafoutis (pronounced KLAH-foo-tee) is a fruit-studded, slightly cake-y custard—kind of like a sweet fruity quiche. Although it isn’t usually included in baked fruit dessert lists, it fits perfectly into a brunch menu (or as an elegant dinner dessert), so I had to include it here!

Photo by Inger Wilkerson


A buckle is kind of like an uber-fruity coffee cake.  Loaded with berries or other fruit and topped with streusel, it may be your answer when coffee cake feels guilty!

Brown Betty

By now, I thought I’d made every kind of fruity dessert imaginable.  But I’d never made a Brown Betty.  A Brown Betty is a baked dessert of fruit layered with bread crumbs or bread cubes tossed with sugar and spices.  I went with the bread cube version after hearing reports the bread crumb style can get soggy.

Probably the simplest fruit dessert of all, the Brown Betty blew me away.  The amount of flavor you get is amazing and it’s super easy (especially if you have a tub of frozen apple slices).  It’s even relatively healthy, low in fat and sugar.

Like the crisps, you can change up a Brown Betty for special diets, using gluten free bread and the sweetener of your choice.  Want to give it a try?  Check out the recipe below!

Other Fruit Dessert Options

Of course, these desserts just scratch the surface of baked fruit dessert options.  We’re all familiar with fruit pies, but did you know you can top a single pie crust with fruit, then fold in the sides for a galette?  Then there are kuchens, pandowdies …

So many baked fruit desserts, so little time!

Photo by Inger Wilkerson

Apple Brown Betty (serves 4)


• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 2 slices sandwich bread cut in 1/4-inch cubes (I used honey whole wheat)
• 1 tablespoons melted butter
• 1 tablespoon lemon zest
• 3-4 cups apple slices (about 1lb) – no need to peel
• 2 tablespoons apple cider or water


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Combine the cinnamon and the sugar and set aside 2 tablespoons. Put the bread cubes in a bowl and toss with the rest of the sugar mixture, the melted butter, and the lemon rind.

3. Line the bottom of a casserole with half of the bread cubes. Layer the apple slices over the bread and sprinkle with the cider or water.  Top with the remaining bread cubes and sprinkle with the reserved 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Cover the casserole and bake for 40 minutes, then remove the lid and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until apples are tender and the topping is brown.

4. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream for a special treat!

Serving a crowd?  Double the recipe, use a larger casserole, and make with five layers instead of three.  Easy-peasy!    

Join Inger at Art of Natural Living for great local food, gardening fun and green lifestyle tips. From (mostly) healthy recipes to natural body care, living naturally is an art

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