Cobblers, Crisps and Crumbles

November 29, 2012
Please note: fresh fruit and vegetables need to be inspected for insect infestation. Please consult our guide

Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog or web site.

There are lots of rivalries in the Torah. We have Moses/Pharaoh (“Let my people go”), Jacob/Esau (“Brother, can you spare a bowl of lentils?”) and especially at this time of year with Chanukah and that whole Maccabees/Greeks brouhaha. But I say, nah–that’s child’s play compared to what goes on in my kitchen when the cobbler comes up against the crisp and then winner faces off against anything chocolate.

Peach Cobbler

These fruit-based desserts are truly American in origin. Just to be clear, a cobbler is a deep-dish fruit dessert with a thick top crust (typically a biscuit dough).

Crisps and crumbles are pretty much the same as a cobbler, only with a crumb topping. The combination for the topping is based on personal preference. You can mix and mingle shortening, flour, nuts, bread crumbs, cookie crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, or even crushed up breakfast cereal. And FYI–the crumble is just the English Isle’s version of a crisp.

As for which one of the following recipes is served after a plate full of latkes (potato pancakes), that’s up to you. Hopefully, you have just enough time to whip one up before they finish a no-holds-barred game of dreidel (spinning tops).

And if you need to substitute an apple for a pear for a peach, it’s all good.

Pick-and-Mix a Crisp (dairy or pareve)

6 to 8 Servings


  • 5 cups apples, pears, peaches, or apricots, peeled and sliced; or frozen unsweetened peach slices (don’t drain the frozen fruit if using it)
  • 2 to 4 Tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup regular rolled oats
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ginger or cinnamon (your choice)
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • ¼ cup chopped nuts or coconut or a mixture of both


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place your fruit of choice in ungreased 2-quart square baking dish. Sprinkle the sugar over the top and mix to combine.
  2. In a bowl combine the oats, brown sugar, flour and nutmeg, ginger, or cinnamon. Cut in butter or margarine until the mixture is combined and crumbly. Then add nuts and/or coconut and mix to combine.
  3. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until fruit is tender but not mushy and topping is golden brown and bubbly.

Options for Pick-and-Mix:

Make a double batch of the crunchy oatmeal topping mixture and store the extra in a freezer bag. Seal, label and freeze it for up to 1 month.

  • Blueberry Crisp: For filling, mix ¼ cup sugar with 3 Tablespoons flour. Toss with 5 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries.
  • Cherry Crisp: For filling, mix ½ cup sugar, 3 Tablespoons flour with 5 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened pitted tart red cherries.
  • Rhubarb Crisp: For filling, mix ¾ cup sugar with 3 Tablespoons flour. Add 5 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened sliced rhubarb.

Modified and submitted by Rene Onella of San Francisco, CA. Original source unknown.

Blueberry Cornmeal Cobbler (dairy or pareve)

12 servings


  • 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (don’t thaw if using frozen)
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg


  • ½ cup butter or margarine, softened, divided
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk or non-dairy substitute
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (use the real stuff)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 11×7-inch baking dish and set it aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, sugar, tapioca, lemon peel, cinnamon and nutmeg. Let stand for 15 minutes. Pour into the prepared pan.
  3. In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup butter or margarine and powdered sugar. Add the egg and mix to combine.
  4. Add the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk or non-dairy substitute, mixing just until combined. Spoon the batter over berry mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  5. In a small saucepan, melt remaining butter or margarine over low heat. Remove from the heat; stir in the syrup. Brush over corn bread. Broil 4-6 inches from the heat for 1-2 minutes or until bubbly.

Serve warm.

Modified from a recipe from Judy Watson of Tipton, IN; Taste of Home, 2012.

Pear and Cranberry Cobbler (dairy or pareve)

8 to 10 servings



  • 2 lbs. firm Bartlett pears, peeled and cut into ½-inch wedges
  • 1-2/3 cups fresh cranberries (6 oz.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 (1- by 3-inch) strips orange zest, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine, cut into bits

Biscuit Topping:

  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • Rounded ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream or non-dairy substitute, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish and set it aside.
  2. In a bowl combine the pears, cranberries, sugar, orange zest, red wine and allspice. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and dot the top with the butter or margarine. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cranberries burst and pears are just tender, 15 to 20 minutes more. While filling is cooking, make biscuits:
  3. Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, then add ¾ cup plus 3 Tablespoons cream or non-dairy substitute and stir just until a dough forms. Gather dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly floured surface (dough will feel dense and heavy).
  4. Gently knead dough 6 times, then pat out into an 8-inch round (about 1/3-inch thick).
  5. Cut out as many rounds as possible with lightly floured cutter, transferring to a sheet of wax paper. Gather scraps and pat out once more, then cut out more rounds. You will have about 16 rounds.
  6. Carefully but quickly, top hot fruit with biscuits, arranging in 1 layer. Brush biscuits with remaining Tablespoon cream or non-dairy substitute and sprinkle with sugar.
  7. Continue to bake cobbler until biscuits are puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Epicurious, November 2011, from a recipe by Shelley Wiseman.

Sweet Potato Cobbler (dairy or pareve)



  • 2½ lbs. sweet potatoes
  • 1 quart water
  • ¾ cup corn syrup
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Biscuit dough:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ stick (6 Tablespoons) cold unsalted butter or margarine, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1¼ cups milk or non-dairy substitute


  1. Peel sweet potatoes, then halve lengthwise and slice crosswise ¼-inch thick.
  2. Combine potatoes with remaining filling ingredients in a wide 4- to 5-quart pot and simmer, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Transfer potatoes with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Boil remaining liquid, uncovered, until reduced to about 2 cups (it will become syrupy), 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Make dough and bake cobbler:
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  6. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter or margarine until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in milk or nondairy substitute with a fork until a dough forms.
  7. Gather dough into a ball, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead 7 or 8 times. Divide dough into 2 pieces, then form each into a disk.
  8. Roll out 1 disk with a floured rolling pin into a 14-inch round (about 1/8 inch thick) and fit into bottom and about halfway up the sides of Dutch oven, pressing against the sides to help it adhere.
  9. Roll out remaining dough into another 14-inch round, then trim to a 12-inch round with a paring knife, reserving trimmings.
  10. Spoon half of sweet potatoes evenly into dough-lined Dutch oven, then top with 1 layer dough trimmings, cutting and fitting trimmings to almost cover potatoes. Add remaining potatoes and pour syrup over potatoes.
  11. Cover potatoes with 12-inch dough round, pressing edges together to seal. Cut 3 steam vents in top with paring knife.
  12. Bake cobbler until top is golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool to warm before serving, about 30 minutes (dough will absorb most of syrup).

Adapted from a Nathan Jean Whitaker Sanders recipe on

Mango Crisp (dairy)

8 servings


  • 8 to 9 cups mangoes, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 box pound cake mix
  • ½ to 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Whipped topping, whipped cream, or ice cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a bowl combine the mangoes, cinnamon and nutmeg then place them on the bottom of a 9X13 pan.
  3. Place the cake mix in a bowl and cut in the butter until it’s crumbly. Add in the nuts and mix to combine. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit and then bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and let set for 5 to 10 minutes before serving with whipped topping, whipped cream or ice cream.

My files, source unknown.

Raisin Rhubarb Crisp (dairy or pareve)

8 servings


  • 5 cups sliced fresh or frozen rhubarb
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¾ to 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 to 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a bowl combine the rhubarb, raisins and 2 Tablespoons flour, then place it in the prepared pan. Without cleaning out the bowl, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt; sprinkle it over the fruit.
  3. In the same bowl combine the oats, ½ cup flour and butter. Cut in the butter or margarine until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the crisp.
  4. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly.

My files, source unknown.

Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun TimesDetroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.