Monday, April 20, 2009

Since I can’t actually be Laura Ingalls, I will just eat like her

This past weekend Mr. F. and I had friends over for dinner and to play games. For the occasion, I made a blackberry and raspberry grunt. Never heard of a grunt? Me neither. (Mr. F. and I had a great time referring to it as an “ughh!” all week.) Supposedly grunts and slumps were the early attempts of Colonists to recreate the steamed English pudding. The result was a simple dumpling-like pudding using local fruit. In Massachusetts, they were known as grunts while in Vermont, Maine, and Rhode Island, they were referred to as slumps (http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/CobblerHistory.htm).

O.k enough with the history. What you really need to know is that it is amazing. And easy. The recipe I used was from my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook. (o.k. Technically, it is Mr. F.’s since I gave it to him for Christmas, but whatever. We all know I had ulterior motives.) This particular recipe for Blackberry Grunt uses a cornmeal topping, which I was a bit hesitant about. Don’t Be! It was fantastic. Tasting it brought back all my Little House on the Prairie fantasies:


I imagined myself as a little girl in braids picking blackberries from the bushes that grew alongside the banks of Plum Creek. Scratched and stained, my sisters and I would return to the homestead where our hard-earned blackberries would accompany the little Johnny cakes that Ma had fried up that afternoon.


Even if you had no Little House on the Prairie fantasies, you still should make this. As I was telling my lab mate today, it is practically health food. (As an aside, am I the only person fascinated by Literary cookbooks? I would seriously like to get my hands on this and this because that would bring me that much closer to actually stepping inside the world of the novel.)

Blackberry Grunt

You can use blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or some combination just as combine long as you have a dark berry as part of the mix.

Filling:

6 C (about 2 lbs) blackberries, or a combination of dark berries, fresh or frozen. (I used a bag of frozen blackberries and a bag of frozen raspberries)
3/4 C (5 1/4 ounces) sugar
2 T or (1/2 ounce) cornstarch

Topping:

1 1/2 C (7 1/4 ounces) whole cornmeal
1/2 C (2 1/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
6 T unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 C milk
1/4 C maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9 inch square baking dish.
To make filling: place berries in dish. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix well, and sprinkle over the fruit. Toss to combine and set aside.

To make topping: combine the cornmeal, flour, balking powder, and salt in a medium bowl or food processor. Cut the butter into small cubes. Using a pastry blender, your fingers, or food processor, cut the chilled butter into the flour until the pieces of butter are the size of small peas. Combine the milk and the maple syrup and stir swiftly into the cornmeal mixture, mixing until just moistened.

Drop the topping by small spoonfuls onto the fruit, but be sure to leave spaces between the spoonfuls to let the fruit bubble up around the dough.

Place the pan in the oven and bake until the topping is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbling and thick, 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Our grunt wasn't around long enough to photograph. This picture was found here.

2 comments:

Janssen said...

Starring that recipe because DANG that looks good - could I pass this off as a side dish? Why, yes, I think I could!

I bought my mom this cookbook a while ago: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0345465466

Wild Rose said...

A blueberry version of this is excellent.

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