For spring and summer ­— from warm cobblers to layered trifles, gelled panna cottas and syllabubs, there’s something satisfying about a pudding beyond the kind that comes out of a box.

These elaborate fruit-based desserts you serve up with a spoon, old-fashioned flummeries and grunts are the things summer dreams are made of.

The parameters of what constitutes a pudding is broad; our minds might first go to soft, milk-based custards — one dictionary definition of a pudding — but then there are puddings made with stale bread, dried-fruit-studded, moulded and steamed puddings, and syrup-drenched sponges. Even crisp, eggy Yorkshire puddings have the same name. Unless you’re British, in which case all desserts are referred to as pudding, it’s a safe argument that any sweet thing you’d default to serving with a spoon could be considered a pudding.

In spring and summer, rhubarb, berries and juicy stone fruits like peaches, apricots and plums are well-suited to such desserts, and can be used interchangeably or in combination with each other, with enough sugar to suit your taste or the tartness of the fruit. If you find yourself flipping through old cookbooks, you’ll likely come across dozens of methods for fancy chilled jellies and puddings designed to revive stale bread or cake; pudding is just the thing when juicy fruit is at its peak.

Be sure to check out Julie’s recipes for Stone Fruit Flummery and Rhubarb Charlotte!

Berry Cornmeal Cobbler

A cobbler can be many things to many people, but is best made with juicy spring and summer fruit; rhubarb, berries and stone fruits work exceptionally well, releasing enough juice for the crunchy topping to sop up. Toss your fruitwith sugar and a bit of cornstarch to thicken, then drop the simple batter in large spoonfuls over top to bake—only one bowl required.
Servings 8
Author Julie Van Rosendaal


  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 6 cups fresh or frozen berries and/or chopped rhubarb


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or thin plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or canola oil


  • Preheat the oven to 375˚F. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch to get rid of any lumps; add the berries and toss to coat. Pour into a 9-inch baking dish or deep pie plate.
  • In the same bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk and butter or oil and stir just to blend the batter. Drop in spoonfuls over the fruit. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the berries are bubbling, with thickened juices around the edge. Serve warm.