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Crisp, Crumble, Betty Or Buckle: What’s The Difference?

Crisp, Crumble, Betty Or Buckle: What’s The Difference?

When it comes to baked fruit-and-pastry desserts, the classic pie isn’t the only game in town. These yummy concoctions are a favorite any time of the year. They work with whatever fruit is in season, in any shape pan, but they go by many names, so it can get confusing.

Here’s a refresher course on what to call the most common baked fruit desserts. So if Aunt Susie tells you to bring an apple crumble to the next pot luck supper, you’ll know exactly what she’s talking about. While there are regional differences in how these desserts are named, we provide a general description of each.

Crisp, Crumble, Betty Or Buckle: What’s The Difference?

Crisp: A crisp is fruit dessert with a topping made of a combination of oats, flour, butter, and sugar (and sometimes nuts). The topping completely covers the fruit and is baked. It is also sometimes called a crumble.

Fruit crisp or crumble, both are very similar, although crumbles usually do not contain oats.

Crumble: Crumbles are very similar to crisps, but the name originated in England. Both contain fresh fruit and are covered with a streusel topping that gets baked. Crumble toppings, however, usually do not contain oats, whereas crisp toppings do.

Cobbler: Cobblers are a fruit dessert baked with biscuit-style topping. It’s called a cobbler because its top crust is not smooth like a pie crust but rather “cobbled” and coarse. It’s usually dropped or spooned over the fruit, then baked.

Individual fruit cobblers.

Buckle: A buckle consists of fruit and cake baked together, with a streusel topping. As it bakes the fruit and streusel topping makes the cake “buckle.” It very much resembles a coffee cake.

Peach buckle

Brown Betty: A Brown Betty (as in “Apple Brown Betty”) is similar to a crisp, but has no oats in its buttery crumb topping. And rather than having the topping solely on top of the fruit, it’s layered throughout, then baked.

A classic fruit Brown Betty.

Which is your favorite? Share your choice in the comments below.

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  • sd says:

    You should add kuchen to this, basically a sweet pancake batter with fruit on top that swells up as it bakes to partially cover the fruit. It’s the easiest one to make.

  • Ellie L. says:

    I love the oats in crisps! I also prefer the texture to cobblers.

  • Patricia Doolin-Thames says:

    All the above. I do not care for pies, because of the crust. Cake is just OK.
    My Mother-in-law made a apple dessert with cored apples, rasins and cinn sugar wrapped in a pie dough. I thought that was a Apple Betty
    The buckel recipe I have is like a thick batter and the fruit goes in the middle. As it cooks, it rises up and over the edge of the fruit. No Strussel topping.

    • sd says:

      There’s another variation on these, that uses either buttered toast or buttered bread to line the pan, which you fill with fruit. I don’t remember if it had a topping or not, or where I found it, but I think it was in Fannie Farmer’s Settlement Cookbook.

  • Barbara says:

    Cobbler because I like the crust. Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream or Warm Half & Half. Think I’ll make some today because my mouth is watering.

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