Sometimes it’s called a slump, sometimes it’s called a grunt, but silly name aside, this New England classic is a quick and easy blueberry dessert made on top of the stove.
Blueberry season has arrived in Southern Vermont and that means high summer! What could be better than a blueberry plucked fresh and popped in the mouth? Since I was a child, the ritual of blueberry picking has been an important part of my summer. It still is.
There was an old abandoned farm house where we picked when I was a child. Mom and Gram hung little buckets and baskets around our necks with clothesline, and off we’d go. I’m not sure if as many berries ended up in the bucket as in our tummies, but we had a great time trying. When we got home, it was berries and cream with a little sugar, and Mom would make blueberry pie, jam, muffins, ice cream, cobbler, all kinds of treats from the gift of the berries.
A summer ritual
I took my own children picking, and my grandchildren now, and they love it as much as we did. Of course, part of the ritual is reading “Blueberries for Sal,” a 1948 classic by Robert McCloskey, a wonderful story about berry picking with the addition of a little bear. My daughter especially loves this story because the kitchen in the book reminds her of one of her childhood homes with my wood cook stove.
Although my mother preferred to make a pie or a cobbler, once in a while she would put together a quick blueberry slump in the heat of the season to keep from turning on the oven!
A cobbler or a slump?
The only real difference between a cobbler and a slump is that the slump is cooked on top of the stove rather than baked. The biscuits or dumplings are steamed in the berry jam, and come out soft and tender, like a blueberry flavored cloud, and they “slump” into the fruit. I used my grandmother’s, or maybe even great-grandmother’s, dumpling recipe that she used for her maple simmered dumplings. I thought they were similar applications, and my only change to her recipe was to add a bit of brown sugar to the dough.
Rather than using water with the berries, I opted to use orange juice to boost the flavor, and I love orange and blueberry together, almost as much as I love lemon and blueberry.
You can use gluten-free flour, and make this dairy free.
Blueberry and Orange Slump
- 6 cups blueberries
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup orange juice
- Zest of one orange
- ½ tsp. ground anise
For the dumplings:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. baking powder
- Scant tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- ½ stick of cold butter, cubed, or vegan butter
- ¾ to 1 cup chilled milk, plant milk is fine
Heat a large skillet with tight fitting lid over medium high. Add the berries, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and anise.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes. It will have thickened, but will continue to do so as we cook longer with the dumplings.
While the filling cooks make your dumplings. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. Add the chilled butter and using a pastry blender, fork, or your fingers, combine leaving textured chunks.
Add the milk and gently mix with your fingers or a wooden spoon just until combined. Start with the ¾ cup milk, it will probably be enough, but if for some atmospheric condition we can’t predict the dough is too dry, add a bit more at a time until you get a soft consistency that will keep its shape when dropped.
Use a small ice-cream scoop to form uniform dumplings and drop them in the simmering blueberries. Cover, and cook for 20 minutes. My mom always said no peeking when dumplings are steaming!
Serve with a little unsweetened cream or coconut cream, or ice cream on the side.
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