Raspberry Rhubarb Grunt Recipe

On Sunday, my parents and I were invited to lunch at my sister Céline’s, and I offered to bring dessert. With the beautiful spring weather we’ve been having, I felt like making something light and fruit-based. Rhubarb season has just begun and we are all big fans in my family, so that was the fruit of choice.

I looked around the web, and read good reviews of Nigella‘s rhubarb grunt. It sounded easy (hardly unusual for a Nigella recipe) so I set my heart on it. I had never heard of grunts before, so I did a little research, and found out that they are a traditional dessert from Ireland, Newfoundland and New England, in which fruit is covered with lumps of dough, and cooked on the stove (the more traditional way) or in the oven.

Grunts also go by the name of slumps or bucklers, and are close cousins of the cobbler. As the dessert cooks, the dough dumplings “slump” or “buckle”, and some say you can hear the fruit “grunt” as the air escapes. Or maybe it’s the eaters who grunt with pleasure, that part is none too clear.

I made a few modifications to Nigella’s recipe, adding raspberries, lowering the sugar (I like my rhubarb to be tart) and butter content, and substituting whole wheat flour for part of the regular flour. I wasn’t sure what whipped double cream was, so I just beat my crème fraîche with a whisk before adding it in. Not much though, for I have no patience and little strength.

Some say you can hear the fruit “grunt” as the air escapes. Or maybe it’s the eaters who grunt with pleasure, that part is none too clear.

My sister is starting to really get into cooking, and this couldn’t make me happier. In her previous apartments she had very little kitchen space to play around in (and I do mean very little kitchen space), but her new apartment boasts a kitchen of much more reasonable size, in which she has room to spread her wings. It seems my enthusiasm is infectious and we find ourselves in more and more conversations about kitchen apparel, menu planning, recipes and food shopping. I love explaining and helping and sharing so much that it is a real joy to get calls from my sister or my friends, asking about a dish or a technique: I get all excited and probably give way too much information, but it seems to help anyway because they come back with reports of success, and more requests.

On this particular sunny day, Céline had baked delicious mini crustless quiches in her new silicon molds. She served them warm, as an appetizer, while we toasted with Champagne. As a main course we had oven-baked fish fillets on a bed of Provencal vegetables (onions, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and peppers), cooked to perfection and very tasty. The living-room was drenched in sunlight, the white wine my father had brought was excellent, a light breeze was blowing in from the large windows which look out onto a park — precisely my idea of a happy Sunday lunch.

We went on to eat the raspberry rhubarb grunt, which I had returned the still-warm (but turned off) oven as we ate the main dish, and we all enjoyed it very much. Rhubarb and berries are always a delightful pairing, the rhubarb’s delicate pink hues being brought out by the bolder berry colors. The scone-like topping cooks in the steam generated by the fruit and this makes for a great consistency, soft and moist from the fruit underneath, golden and crispy on top.

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Raspberry Rhubarb Grunt Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Serves 4 to 6.

Raspberry Rhubarb Grunt Recipe


    For the fruit filling:
  • 800 grams (1 3/4 pounds) trimmed rhubarb, sliced into half-inch chunks (about 1 kg or 2.2 lb untrimmed, about six large stalks)
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) raspberries, fresh or frozen
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) unrefined cane sugar
  • 20 grams (4 teaspoons) butter, cut into shavings
  • For the topping:
  • 100 grams (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 50 grams (1/3 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 30 grams (2 tablespoons) unrefined cane sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 240 ml (1 cup) crème fraîche or whipping cream, beaten


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F), and grease a medium baking dish (mine is 20 by 30 cm, or 8 by 12 inches).
  2. Arrange the rhubarb at the bottom of the dish.
  3. Raspberry Rhubarb Grunt
  4. Cover with the raspberries, and sprinkle with the 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar. Dot with the butter shavings.
  5. Raspberry Rhubarb Grunt
  6. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Fold in the cream, and combine until the dough forms a sticky ball.
  7. Raspberry Rhubarb Grunt
  8. Drop by the spoonful over the filling, covering the surface evenly, otherwise people will fight for the spots that have the most.
  9. Raspberry Rhubarb Grunt
  10. Put into the oven to bake for 45 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is lightly golden.
  11. Raspberry Rhubarb Grunt
  12. Serve warm, with extra sugar on the side for each guest to add if the rhubarb is a bit tart for their taste. This is excellent on its own, but could also be served with vanilla ice cream or a custard sauce.
  • Jennifer

    Grunts. I grew up eating grunts. My grandmother used to make them all the time out of every kind of fruit she could get her hands on. The slightly Americanized version is now called a “buckle” and is similar to a fruit coffee cake, which I tend to make a little too often for my boyfriend’s waistline…they’re great with coffee (in fact there is a piece of one I made yesterday sitting beside me right now, waiting for me…calling me…).
    Whipped double cream is heavy cream (whipping cream), whipped. Similar to creme fraiche (although I don’t know where I can buy creme fraiche here!)

  • Josie

    Mmm, delicious. Rhubarb grunt with vanilla ice cream or vanilla custard is the traditional midsummernight’s eve dessert in my family.

  • Luisa

    Hi Clotilde,
    What a lovely picture you painted of your Sunday afternoon! And American fruit desserts truly are grand. Crisps, buckles, slumps and grunts: they all let the lovely fruit shine through!
    A note on double cream: while I’m not English, I’m pretty sure that it translates to a thicker (because of the higher butterfat content) version of American heavy cream. It’s easy to overwhip, so it’s probably good that you didn’t whip the creme fraiche for too long! ;). Sadly, it’s not available in the US…

  • Clotilde! I’ve just come to after collapsing in a C&Z-perfect food-perfect afternoon-description swoon. (wiping sweat from my brow) Sheesh. My greatest fear is you will wake up one day and say, “I’m done with sharing my fabulousness with the blog world”. Please don’t ever, ever, EVER do that! We need your magic . . .always.

  • hi there, i LOVE your blog. all those recipes are very useful. your blog would be so useful for me later on, once i have got myself a ‘proper’ oven again!!!

    but now, im having a watering mouth, since i have a fat ass sweet tooth!!!

  • kitten

    Rhubarb is my favorite! I will often cook more than enough up to have around to be able to have some on my morning oatmeal and yougurt…Luisa-I have been able to find creme fraiche here, but I live in the food obssesed Bay Area, it’s also really easy to make! I’ll look up the measurements up at home and post them here if you like…

  • My grandmother used to make blackberry grunts all the time in the summer. My father and his sister would often argue over who was to get the last bit of it. That, and raspberry pie. I miss my gran…
    Thank you for the beautiful post. I really enjoy your blog.

  • Céline

    Ma soeurette,

    merci beaucoup pour ces compliments par blog interposé au sujet de mon repas de dimanche… Il est vrai que j’ai de qui tenir, avec une chef comme soeur ! :-) Et puis ton enthousiasme est vraiment contagieux ! On se refera des déjeuners comme ca !


  • This sounds yummy! I’m on a low-carb “eating style” (I hate the term diet) and I wondered – How do you think it would be if I replaced all the white flour with whole wheat flour? (And of course no brown sugar, perhaps honey and splenda in its place)… Love your thoughts!

  • Laren

    Hi Clotilde, I just discovered your blog by chance yesterday and have been enjoying working my way back through what I’ve missed.
    On the subject of cream as sold in the UK, I guess the British like their cream as there’s a lot of different variants (double cream having a minimum fat content of 48%, whipping cream 35% and single cream 18% – I won’t even go into extra thick double and single cream, and clotted cream). It was much simpler in my home country of New Zealand where we just had “cream” and “light cream” – when I first moved to the UK I wasn’t quite sure which one to buy, but I made only one (unsuccessful) attempt to whip single cream before I decided that there must be a reason for the name “whipping cream”!

  • Jennifer – Oh, would you share your buckle recipe? I’d love to see what it looks like!

    Josie – “Midsummernight’s eve” is such a beautiful name, is it a Scandinavian celebration? When is it (in the middle of the summer I guess, but is it a fixed date), and how do you typically celebrate it?

    Luisa – Thanks for the double cream note. So would whipped double cream be very moussy and aerated like regular whipped cream?

    Bluepoppy – Thanks for the lovely lovely compliment, it goes straight to my heart! :)

    aNNabaNAna – Thanks, so glad you like it!

    Kitten – Excellent suggestion, I love rhubarb with cereal and yogurt too!

    JennB – Oh yes, it must be lovely with blackberries too! I’ll try that when they’re in season. Did your gran leave you her recipes by any chance?

    Céline – Ah oui, je suis pour qu’on se refasse ça très bientôt!

    Maggie – It would probably taste different but good, you should definitely try it. I think fruit usually goes very well with the taste of whole wheat flour. Let me know if you experiment!

    Laren – Yes, I do wish I could find a comparative chart of the different kinds of cream in different countries, that would sure help with the global confusion!

  • Luisa

    Oops, what I meant was that double cream isn’t available in the US. Kitten, thanks so much for your offer of the creme fraiche recipe! Luckily, I live in New York so I’m never too far away from a creme fraiche supply, but I might take you up on your offer if I move to a less well-stocked city!
    Clotilde, I would imagine that whipped double cream wouldn’t get quite as aerated as regular cream, as the extra fat would ‘weigh’ it down. (A food scientist like Shirley Corriher or Harold McGee would probably have a better way of explaining this.)

  • Mina

    Thanks so much for your lovely post!- and link to the dessert article. I’ve tried to explore more about fruit desserts upon discovering that a southern-style fruit cobbler was thick, homeade noodle-type dumplings simmered in fruit (my husband is from Louisiana) rather than what I thought of a cobbler- being from NY, which had a sweet biscuity crust on top of fruit. My gran also made delicious desserts, and I always think of her when I bake an apple betty.
    Just on a side note- another recipe I’ve come across is a ‘dump cake’ which turns out to basically be a cobbler. You ‘dump’ a white or yellow cake mix over the top of cooked fruit, and then slice butter over the top of the cake mix. I have to admit being skeptical of this recipe until a friend of mine baked one. It was very good for being made in about 2 minutes!

  • Luisa – I think I see what you mean. Well in any case, my whipping seemed to do the trick!

    Mina – Funny about the “dump” dessert! I’m guessing you have to add the egg or milk as per the package instructions before you dump it?

  • Alisa

    I pulled my printed copy of this out of my trusty recipe notebook, to make it for the second time, served with home made whipped cream. Wonderful of course, and everyone at sunday lunch raved! Except for the guy allergic to red fruits. Who knew? Just thought you’d like to know the lasting impression of past posts :)

  • Jennifer

    A dump cake is just the white or yellow cake mix dry on top of fruit. In my family a dump cake that we had a lot of a can of blueberries for pies and a can of crushed pineapple. You mix the fruit together and put at the bottom of a baking dish, then put the dry cake mix on top then put butter dollups on top of that and bake until golden brown.

  • famdoz

    I tried this dessert this evening, and after comparing it to Nigella’s original recipe, I think it would be more successful with the extra sugar, butter and sweetened double cream rather than crème fraïche. I, too, generally like my desserts rather tart, but this was just not sweet enough. Extra sugar sprinkled on top was not well integrated into the overall taste.

  • Sandra Alderson

    Going to try this tonight as I’m awash with rhubarb but will use strawberries instead of raspberries (we like rhubarb and strawberry pie). I’m a Canadian living in the UK (40yrs now) and have never heard of grunt in Canada, so I’m still learning!

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