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Natty & Devon bake (or more accurately boil) Blueberry Grunt

June 1, 2010

Hey readers of nattybakes, it’s Devon. You may remember me from Natty’s delicious butter-filled fruit crumble post. Today I bring you a recipe for Blueberry Grunt – a traditional dessert from my home province of Nova Scotia. Ahh Blueberry Grunt — Yes it has a funny name [apparently the “grunt” refers to the sound the blueberries make as they cook (??)] but I can attest to the fact that this old-fashioned dessert has been the mainstay of many an enjoyable and hilarious Proudfoot family get-together and is perfect served warm in the winter or with a scoop of ice cream on a summer day.

However finding a good recipe for this dessert ain’t easy. Natty and I ran into quite a few intriguing yet useless internet deadends until finally settling on this recipe which, for a site that specializes in microwavable desserts, wasn’t that bad!

Hey it’s Nat here now. So yes, back to this website. Devon is clearly underestimating the fun we had on Sandi’s Recipe File. In fact we got such a hoot out of this site (and its high quality design) that it kind of made us nostalgic for the internet circa 1999. Oh how I miss and at times even long for the 28.8 k dial-up “song” that used to excitedly kickoff my young internetting sessions!

ANYWAY, the actual recipe wasn’t that bad…but it wasn’t that good either (sorry Sandi!). The real authority on this matter– the one who we should have consulted first is Devon’s Dad. He advised her via email that:

“A little whip cream on top of the grunt makes it a hit and a single raw retained blueberry to top off the whipped cream makes it a Maritime masterpiece”

We also learned and studied intensely the subtle yet important distinctions between a crumble, crisp, cobbler, grunt, buckle, betty and flummery (yeah, I’d never heard of that one either). What these desserts share in common is that they are all delicious combinations of fruit, spices, flour, fat and sugar without the more high maintenance nature of a pie, tart or gallete. What makes them each unique is that:

  • A crumble has British origins and apparently due to strict food rations during World War II the dish was an adapted version of the standard pie. The folks had to be more frugal with ingredients and so instead of using a thick pastry on both the top and bottom of the filling, a topping was concocted which would simply go on top of the stewed fruit.
  • A crisp is virtually the same as a crumble but it doesn’t contain any oats in the topping.
  • A cobbler in North America refers to fruit covered with a biscuit-type dough (it is usually more cakey than the topping of crumbles and crisps). The dough is usually rolled into little balls and pressed onto the fruit creating a “cobblestone” effect when it is baked.
  • A grunt is a traditional dish for many people from the East coast of the United States and Canada. It is a variation of the cobbler, the difference here being that the biscuit dough is steamed by the fruit stewing on the stovetop. Some recipes call for the grunt to be browned up in  the oven right at the end of cooking time and others even suggest you make the grunt entirely in the oven. Traditionally speaking though, the grunt is made on the stovetop. This dish is also sometimes referred to as “slump” because of the way it slumps on the plate when you serve it (um, ok I think that title explanation is tied with grunt one).
  • A buckle is a variation of the cobbler. Here, the cake batter is on the bottom while the fruit is placed on top. Once it is baked the fruit falls to the bottom while the batter come up around the fruit, making it “buckle”
  • A betty is constructed in layers of fruit and topping and the outcome consistency is quite bread pudding-like. Accordingly, the topping typically contains breadcrumbs.
  • A flummery lacks a topping of any kind and is more like a fruit pudding. It is often thickened with a bit of cornstarch and served with milk or cream.

Devon’s dad suggested a recipe that looked quite a bit more scrumptious than Sandi’s (my apologies again sweetie!) and so this is the one that we decided to post. We send him many thanks and shoutouts!

Can you hear it grunting?
Can you hear it grunting?

The Blueberry Grunt recipe suggested by Devon’s Dad



  • 4 cups wild fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp butter or shortening
  • Milk


  • In a large saucepan with cover, heat berries, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice and water; boil gently until well blended and slightly cooked down. In a mixing bowl sift flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter and add enough milk to make a soft biscuit dough. Drop by spoonfuls into hot berry sauce.
  • Cover tightly with a lid and simmer for 15 minutes (no peeking!). The dumplings should be puffed and well cooked through. Transfer cooked dumplings to serving dish. Ladle sauce over top; serve with whipped cream.
Done and done

Done and done

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 23, 2013 8:44 pm

    Hi, my grandmother used to make a blueberry cobbler in small bowls. I remember the blueberries had a sauce that she used mixed in. It used to have a biscuit on top.I always wished that I had paid better attention to her cooking. There has to be someone out there that knows exactly what I am looking for.. Help. Also, my grandmother used to make cracker pudding all the time as well, yes another recipe I wished I had paid more attention to. Does anyone out there know the recipe for this… help again… Thank you

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