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Summer fruit shines in simple, rustic desserts. You know about pie and cake, probably also crisp, crumble, cobbler, and compote. But have you ever had buckle? If not, this is a great time of year to give one a try. Buckles are like a cross between cake and crisp, with a whole lot of fresh fruit providing flavor and texture. They start with a base layer of dense, vanilla-scented cake batter, which is then studded with fruit and covered with a spiced crumb topping that “buckles” the cake. I think blackberry buckle may be the one I enjoy most. Blackberries are abundant in Seattle in August, but an equal amount of blueberries, diced peaches, sliced plums, or a mix of fruits, works very well. I like to have the flavor of both cardamom and cinnamon in the topping, especially with blackberries, but you can use all cinnamon, or exchange nutmeg for cardamom, if you prefer. Have fun experimenting with buckles this summer, and make sure this blackberry version is on your to-try list.

blackberry buckle

Blackberry Buckle (adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

For the crumb topping:

  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom, preferably freshly ground
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 4 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the cake:

  • 1 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 T. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 c. fresh blackberries

Make the crumb topping: In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, cardamom and a pinch of salt. Add the cold pieces of butter and use a fork, pastry cutter, or your fingers to work the butter into the dry ingredients. Stop when you reach the consistency of wet sand and can still see pea-sized pieces of butter distributed throughout the mixture. Refrigerate your crumb topping while you make the cake batter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2 qt. casserole or baking dish with butter or baking spray. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and kosher salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the softened butter with the sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 mins. Add the vanilla and eggs and beat just until combined. Gently mix in the sifted dry ingredients, with the mixer on low speed, or by hand. The batter will be fairly thick. Spoon the batter into your greased baking dish and spread into an even layer. Top with blackberries, then sprinkle the crumb topping evenly across the fruit.

cake batter with berries to top

Bake for 55-60 mins., until the topping is golden brown and a skewer into the cake layer comes out clean. Cool slightly, but serve warm if you can, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a little whipped cream. Store, covered, at room temperature for 24-48 hours, or in the refrigerator for a few days more. Leftover buckle is remarkably good for breakfast. 🙂 Enjoy!

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