Have you ever heard of a dessert called a slump? The Joy of Cooking defines a slump as “steamed fruit topped with dumplings”. I first encountered the idea of a slump in a cookbook about the cooking of Newport, Rhode Island, in the first chapter on colonial cooking. Apparently, this dessert goes back to colonial days. It’s synonymous with a “grunt”, and which word you use, slump or grunt, depends on the locale. In Rhode Island, slump is used. In Massachusetts, grunt is more common.
Etymology aside, what’s cool about slumps is that they are like cobblers, except they’re made on the stove-top instead of the oven, and they have dumplings instead of biscuits. Yes, berries cooked with sugar, topped with dumplings. (You should have seen my dad’s face when I explained the dessert I made for him. The way he lit up when the word “dumpling” was mentioned was priceless.) Soft, fluffy dumplings, bathed in sweet, tart, ruby berries, and doused with cream.
Dad practically ate the whole batch!
This recipe uses blackberries because that’s what I happened to have, but you could use any berry. Traditionally in New England native blueberries are used. I do recommend serving this with cream or vanilla ice cream. Blackberries can be quite tart, which the cream can help cut.
This recipe uses blackberries, but you could easily use any berry you would like, such as blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 4 cups fresh or frozen (defrosted and drained) blackberries
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet your berries and how sweet you would like your slump to be)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/3 cup water
- Whipping cream or vanilla ice cream for topping
1 In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your clean hands, cut the butter into the flour until the flour resembles a coarse meal. Add the milk all at once and stir until the flour is just moistened. Handling the dough as little as possible, form into a ball. Set aside.
2 In a 2-qt saucepan, add the berries, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water. Heat until boiling, stirring a few times so that the berries are well coated with the sauce. Once the berry mixture is boiling, tear off spoonful chunks from the dough ball and drop onto the fruit around the edges of the pot. You should have enough dough for 6 dumplings. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes, without peeking at the dumplings.
Place dumplings in serving bowls and top with berries. Serve with cream or ice cream. Serve hot or chilled.