What kinds of fruit desserts did you grow up with? For me, it was cobblers, usually blueberry or peach, sometimes blackberry. But I’m fascinated by all the different kinds, often regionally-based, of homey fruit desserts. Crisps and crumbles are cousins of cobbler (alliteration much? whoops), but there are also slumps, grunts, pandowdies, brown bettys, and buckles. (I’m eying this book to show me the ropes on the more unfamiliar desserts.) And although each can be generally described, most people individually ascribe what they consider its hallmark characteristics to their beloved classics.
The buckle is a friendly cake with a name that describes exactly what it does as it bakes: the batter rises to partially cover the berries and peeks out through the streusel, so the cake looks as if it’s buckling. Kim Boyce (no stranger around here) has the most perfectly rustic (oxymoron? I’m all lit devices today) looking buckle in her book. In the picture, the dark indigo berries splatter the soft, crumbly buckle, which has a bronzed streusel-laden lid, dotted with berries. The Seuss-sounding name of “huckle buckle” drew me in further, though, being boring, I used the more widely available blueberry.
It’s a very comforting, warm-tasting cake due to the spices and whole-wheat flour. Spelt flour is Boyce’s unique twist. I hadn’t worked with it before, but as I used white spelt flour (as opposed to whole-grain) it was very mild (see headnotes of recipe). The streusel almost camouflages into the the cake, contributing to the buckling effect. And as for it being a “friendly” cake? It’s welcome at whatever time of day–you’ll see what I mean.
1 year ago: Watermelon Lemonade
Multigrain Blueberry Buckle
adapted from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain
I used white spelt flour here, just because I wanted to try out a milder version before I went for the whole-grain spelt. I’m not sure which type Boyce had in mind; I think either would work. White spelt is very mild. When it was paired with whole-wheat (pastry) flour here, which has a much bolder taste, I couldn’t distinguish it from regular all-purpose flour, which I suspect you might be able to use instead, but as I haven’t tried it, I can’t give any definite answer.
This streusel is quite moist, almost like a very thick batter (due to the addition of an egg, which acts as a binder), so don’t expect your usual crumbly streusel. As I’ve said, it nearly blends into the cake once baked, helping it to buckle.
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces / 60 grams) whole-grain pastry flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 cup (2 ounces / 56 grams) spelt flour (see headnotes)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces / 142 grams) spelt flour
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces / 127 grams) whole-grain pastry flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick (4 ounces / 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, very soft
3/4 cup whole milk
1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used low-fat)
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups blueberries (or huckleberries, tossed in some )
1. Preheat oven to 350° F and butter a 2 1/2 quart baking dish.
2. For the streusel: sift together the flours, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt into a large bowl, dumping into the bowl any bits that remain in the sifter, and whisk to combine completely. Cut the 3 tablespoons of cold butter in 1/4-inch bits and toss them into the mix. Using your hands (the best method) or a pastry blender, rub the butter into the flour, breaking the butter into small pieces. The mixture should be coarse and be mostly the texture of rough cornmeal with larger bits. Try to do this quickly, as you want the butter to remain cold.
3. Make a well in the center of the streusel mix. Crack in the egg, and whisk the egg to blend. Switch to a spatula to mix the egg into the dry ingredients. When the mixture starts to come together, use your hands to finish mixing, making sure to incorporate all the dry ingredients. Squeeze bits of the streusel together–it should be in large clumps. Put the streusel in the fridge while you make the buckle.
4. For the batter: Over the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, (dry mix), dumping any bits that remain in the sifter into the bowl, and mix to combine thoroughly. Add the softened butter using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer or a hand mixer, blend the butter into the dry ingredients until combined. The mixture should be in uniform crumbs.
5. In a bowl or a large measuring cup (my preferred lazy method), mix together the wet mix (milk, yogurt, egg yolks, and vanilla) until combined. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and blend just until the batter is smooth.
6. Spread half the batter into the buttered baking dish, and sprinkle half the blueberries over the batter. Dollop the remaining batter over the berries and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining berries over the batter. Break the streusel into small bits (about the size of hazelnuts or almonds) and sprinkle evenly over the berries.
7. Bake the buckle for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through so it bakes evenly. When the cake is done, it’ll be browned and spring back when lightly touched; a toothpick should come out clean. Cool the buckle in the pan. Eat warm or at room temperature.
Storing: The buckle can be kept, tightly covered, at room temperature (or in the fridge) for up to 3 days.
Do Ahead: The buckle can be made (assembled-complete step 6) the night before. Keep in the fridge overnight, and bake it in the morning (just add a few minutes to the baking time).