We're back, and yes, still alive. It seems that no matter how prepared you think you are or aren't, the start of a new semester never ceases to be a 2 week flurry of activity. I suppose you might say that this slump represents how we've been feeling lately. The kind of feeling that makes you want to fall into a warm pile of fresh laundry. And stay there.
So aside from a form of bad posture, what is a slump (prepare yourself for a brief lesson on American Food History): stewed fruit topped with a biscuit. It is thought that a slumps were an early attempt by English colonizers to recreate English steamed pudding without the proper cooking utensils to do so. I'm glad their attempts weren't successful because without them, we would be without the slump.
Nancy Baggett, author of The All-American Dessert Book, says "Slumps are the plain-Jane cousins of cobblers. Slumps differ from their better-known relatives because they are covered and usually cooked on the stove top, so the dough steams and becomes fluffy and dumpling-like, instead of browning and crisping as a cobbler crust does." Slumps may be so named because the dough slides, or slumps, down the side of the pot as the fruit softens. They are also known as grunts (HA!), possibly because of the noise the berries make as they stew...or because of the noise people make when they eat them? Now really, people.
Whatever the history, slumps are a versatile, simple way to pair seasonal fruits. You don't need to fire up the oven, and you can lazily drop the dough by the spoonful onto the fruit without any planning. It may not be the most picturesque of fruit desserts, but it'll surely have you coming back for more.
Recipe adapted from The All-American Dessert Book*
Pictures by Kelly
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional- include if using peaches)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
4 cups peaches, sliced**
4 cups berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, sour cherries, tart plums, cranberries, or chopped rhubarb)
- In 10 inch deep saucepan or dutch oven, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in the orange juice, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Stir int he fruit until incorporated. Bring to a simmer, stirring, over medium heat. Simmer until the fruit just begin to soften and release their juices, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits.
about 1 1/3 cups milk
1 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter. Using a pastry blender, forks or your fingertips, cit in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Add about 1 cup of the milk to he flour mixture, mixing with a fork until evenly incorporated. The dough should be very soft and slightly wet. Add more milk, if necessary.
- Drop the dough by spoonfuls onto the fruit, spacing evenly over the top.
- Return fruit to heat and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot tightly and continue simmering 16 to 20 minutes, or until the dumplings are puffy and cooked through. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar and let cool at least 20 minutes. Serve warm.
*which, if you haven't purchased by now, you really should. Of course, the way things are going, I'm bound to end up posting nearly all of her recipes on here...
**This is the most flexible of dessert dishes. In my slump pictured above, I used peaches, blueberries, and blackberries. I think cherries, raspberries, and cranberries would be an excellent winter dish. In a previous slump, I used only blue and blackberries. It's really up to you.