Best of the Season: Blueberry Nectarine Buckle
Ever had a Sonker? How about a Slump? Or a Grunt? Do you even know what I’m talking about? (Oh, that poor Ceri Marsh, she’s finally lost her mind. Too little sleep and too many Dr. Seuss books and Wozit-in-my-Closet, she cracked up.) No, seriously, they’re desserts -old fashioned American desserts that are simple and make the most of summer-ripe fruit. I first came across a Slump in Amanda Hesser’s excellent Cooking for Mr. Latte. I have no idea why they all have such hilarious names. The best I’ve heard so far is Boy Bait. You know that’s coming soon, right? But this week, we meet the Buckle.
photos: Maya Visnyei
Hello, Buckle! We’ve got a lot more blueberry recipes coming up on SPC but I couldn’t resist picking some up this week. We eat blueberries all year but when the little, wild local ones are in the markets and grocery stores you really have to make the most of it. They’re insanely flavourful and just put those big, watery things you eat in January to shame. I’m definitely going to buy extra this year and freeze them while they’re in season. I particularly love the combination of peach with blueberry so I was all over this nectarine blueberry Buckle recipe in the Sono Baking Company Cookbook. I’ve made a few things from this book and while the recipes always lean hard on butter and sugar, they’re always excellent. Clearly it’s why they’re excellent. Buckles are moist, single layer cakes, often made with fresh blueberries, with a streusel topping. It was easy-peasy to make. I only used about half the streusel topping that the original recipe called for – it was just too much in my mind – so I’ve halved it here.
This cake would be great with a coffee in the afternoon but we took it to a barbecue and it was a big hit with the kids. That could be because the six of them took upon themselves to decorate it with red currants and flowers from our hosts’ garden, a couple of strawberries from the fruit salad and some curly gift-wrapping ribbon. It made quite an impressive presentation. Pride in their work aside, they seem to love the Buckle.
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup (half a stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 1/4 flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups blueberries
2 cups diced nectarines (1/2 to 1 inch dice), about 2 nectarines
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Preheat the oven to 35o degrees.
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Using your fingers, quickly pinch the butter into small pieces, working it into the dry mixture. Keep tossing the pea-sized pieces of butter in the dry ingredients until you have a crumbly textured meal. Pop it in the fridge while you whip up the cake.
Blend together the flour and baking power together in a bowl. Set aside.
Whip the butter, sugar and salt with an electric mixture for 2 to 3 minutes until it is very light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla. On a low speed, add the flour mixture until just combined. Don’t over mix! Fold in the fruit.
Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish with a bit of butter. Place the baking pan on a cookie sheet in case some fruit juices bubble over the edge. Pour the batter into the pan and use the back of a spoon to smooth it out. Sprinkle the streusel over the top.
Pop the baking dish on the cookie sheet into the oven. For 30 to 35 minutes. Half way through cooking time, turn the dish around and put it back it the oven. This is a tip you see a lot of serious baking recipes and allows for uneven heat in your oven. The cake is done when a tester comes out clean (but it will be damp as the cake is very moist) and the topping is nicely browned. Place on a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.
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