Marry the northeast and the northwest! Make an old-fashioned New England grunt with luscious peaches from Washington State.
Baking is one of my all-time favorite hobbies. It seems a miracle that you can mix flour, sugar and various other ingredients, pop the whole thing in the oven and end up with crusty bread or chewy cookies or a tender cake.
But during the summer months, my oven goes on vacation. Sometimes I resort to grilled flatbreads, but usually it’s the stovetop that comes to the rescue. Casseroles become stir-fries, cookies are the fudgy no-bake variety, and fruit crisps and cobblers are served as Grunts.
“What on earth is a grunt?” Unless you are of a certain age, and have spent time in Northern New England, you probably have never heard of the dessert called a grunt – also called a slump. A grunt is basically a fruit cobbler, only the batter is dropped onto cooking fruit in a skillet instead of being baked. The process is similar to dropping dumplings onto a bubbling pot of soup.
Originally grunts were cooked over a fire in a Dutch oven, making them a favorite at logging camps, where the men worked in the woods for days or weeks before returning home. The most traditional grunt was, and continues to be, blueberry – because little, wild, flavorful blueberries grow everywhere in Maine.
Here in the Northwest though, I prefer to use lush, juicy peaches from my backyard tree. The process is the same, whether you make a peach grunt, a blueberry grunt, an apple grunt, or a plum grunt. Like cobbler, grunts are delicious with any fruit.
Use a 10-inch skillet with high sides, or a Dutch oven for cooking. This particular recipe, which can also be halved and cooked in a smaller saucepan, is inspired by the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook.
This particular batch of peaches was courtesy of the Washington State Fruit Commission Canbassador program. As a Canbassador I usually write about how to preserve Washington state fruits, this recipe is one you can enjoy right now – and is the perfect finishing touch to a weekend barbeque.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger (optional)
- 4 cups of peeled, sliced peaches
- 1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- ¾ cup buttermilk or regular milk*
- Stir together water, sugar, and ginger (if using) in skillet until combined.
- Add sliced peaches. Bring to a gentle boil over low heat.
- Meanwhile, add flour, baking powder, and baking soda to a large bowl. Stir to combine.
- Cut in butter with a pastry blender until like coarse crumbs.
- Stir in buttermilk.
- Drop dough over the fruit mixture. Cover and cook over low heat until dough is cooked through – about 15 minutes.
- Serve with the fruit sauce “slumped” over the dumpling.
- Top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.
- *Buttermilk adds a tangy flavor that goes well with peaches. However, you may use regular milk instead. If using regular milk, omit the baking soda.
Full disclosure: This recipe was made with peaches I received from the Washington State Fruit Commission.