As soon as it’s the farmer’s market begins to fill with fruit, we at Mother Rucker’s Sweets get a hankering for some blackberry cobbler, peach pie or maybe even a cherry tart — we just can’t make up our mind.
In the pastry family, pies, cobblers and tarts are close cousins. Each of these scrumptious desserts consists of a filling and a crust. But each one requires a different set of baking techniques, and each one is served in a way that sets it apart.
Think of a cobbler as a pie without the bottom crust. Most cobbler recipes are simple, which only lets the flavorful wholesomeness of its ingredients shine through. A can of pie filling, a roll of biscuit dough… you’ve got all you need to make a cobbler. But the treat is so much sweeter if you make your own filling from whatever farm-fresh fruit is in season.
Cobblers come in just about every size and shape. You can even make “personal” single-serving cobblers using ramekins or oven-proof bowls. Cobbler crust is usually thicker than pie crust. Some bakers blanket their cobbler fillings with this crust, while others get a little fancier, cutting it into strips and draping it a lattice pattern. Either way, it’s still delicious!
When we think of cobblers, we imagine taking the chill out of the early spring air with generous, steamy helping and a nice cup of after-dinner coffee. Because they’re easy to make and take a quick bake that won’t heat up your whole kitchen, cobblers are also great summer treats. Besides, the fruit’s at its ripest when the temperatures are at their warmest.
While cobblers most often come out of the oven in rectangular baking dishes, a pie just isn’t a pie unless it’s round. And where cobbler crust is biscuit-like, pie crust is thin, flaky and just a little crisp.
Pies are usually filled deeper than cobblers. Combine that with both a bottom and top crust and you’ve got longer baking times to manage as well.
A cobbler likes to keep it loose — maybe that’s why it takes to ice cream so well — but a pie wants to set. Pies take patience and almost always need to cool before they can be served. Adding a dollop of fresh whipped cream to the finished slices is a great way to help your family forget the wait!
What tarts lack in size they make up for in sophistication. And while pie may be an all-American dessert, the tart can proudly claim a long European ancestry.
Tarts are so particular, in fact, that they require their own pan. A tart pan consists of two interlocking parts. The bottom of the pan is removable and doubles as a serving platter. Meanwhile, the pan’s sides actually consist of a ring that holds the whole tart together as it bakes.
Pies can reach impressive heights. But tarts are typically more slim. They’re not necessarily trimmer. Tarts can be very densely packed.
A classic tart crust is more like a cookie — sweet, crumbly and accented with nuts, spices or even bits of chocolate. But this crust acts solely as a foundation for the tart’s rich filling. Tarts are uncovered and do not feature a top crust. This has inspired many bakers to top their tart creations with elaborate designs made from both fresh and candied fruit.
Tarts excel at presentation. There’s just something so elegant about a tart’s straight sides and distinctively fluted crust. So grab some fresh strawberries and show off your pastry skills with a tart that’s a true tour de force.