One, Two, Buckle My Berry

I've made cobbler and I've tried my hand at slump, but until this weekend, I had never done a buckle.

Most Americans are familiar with cobbler or crisp, which come from a lexicon of classic American desserts featuring baked fruit. The difference between the two is all in the topping - crisp is 'crispier' with butter, brown sugar and sometimes rolled oats; cobbler is often crowned with biscuits.

But a buckle -- what the heck is that? I like to think of it as a trifecta -- part fruit, part topping, with an extra bonus component of cake. I am beginning to think that the buckle is far superior to the cobbler, although my opinion may sway, depending on the fruit being used. As many of you know, there's nothing quite like a peach cobbler, but I'm thinking that berries are best in a buckle.

In the recipe below, blueberries are the star, but raspberries, blackberries and strawberries would also work beautifully. Here's the lowdown: A greased baking dish gets lined with a simple vanilla-y batter (sugar, butter, egg, vanilla, milk, flour). Fruit goes on top, then gets the final touch of a sugary 'crumb topping.'

What happens is that as batter rises, the sandwiched fruit does too, and kind of 'buckles' in the process, giving it a dimply appearance. Cut into squares and serve with a smidge of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Don't expect leftovers - this one's sublime.

"Mama's Blueberry Buckle"

Adapted from "Recipes From a Very Small Island" by Linda Greenlaw and Martha Greenlaw

¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla (Not in original recipe, but spritzes up flavor of batter)
2 cups blueberries (1 pint)

½ cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into dice

Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

In the bowl of a electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix until combined.

In a small bowl, sift or whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to the batter, alternating with the milk, mixing until smooth and blended.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread with a rubber spatula so that it evenly covers the pan. Sprinkle berries over batter.

To make topping, whisk together sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add butter and work with a fork or your fingers until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle topping over blueberries. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until berries are bubbling and topping is golden brown.

Let cool slightly and serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves about 6 buckle fiends.

Have more to dish? Questions? Contributions? Join today's What's Cooking discussion at noon.

See you then.

By Kim ODonnel |  May 30, 2006; 11:17 AM ET Desserts
Previous: Crumbs From Memorial Day Weekend | Next: Catch of the Day, Part One


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Hi, this Buckle looks great. I have a question from today's chat - which new Marion Nestle book - the way we eat or what to eat? Both came out on May 2.

Posted by: Sailor | May 30, 2006 5:13 PM

Is that Linda Greenlaw of "The Perfect Storm" fame? People from Maine know what to do with blueberrys. Thanks!

Posted by: Phanie | May 30, 2006 7:07 PM

Please add a section that allows us to be able print the receipe.

Posted by: Roddy | May 30, 2006 8:35 PM

Yes Phanie, it's Linda Greenlaw of "Perfect Storm" fame. I got a copy of the book last summer and only recently started to pore through it.
Hey Sailor, "What to Eat" is the one by Marion Nestle, going through the supermarket aisles. "What to Eat" by Peter Singer and Jim Mason is like an ethical eating travelogue throughout the US. I'm keen to get copies of both. Stay tuned for my summer reading list, by the way.

Posted by: Kim O'Donnel | May 30, 2006 9:39 PM

this is gonna sound weird but i've been reading your chat eagerly for months and never realized that this blog was here!! but i'm thrilled to find it.

would this buckle recipe work as well with frozen (thawed) berries, or would it be soggy? i've got plenty of icy berries in the freezer right now just cause they're cheaper in winter, and i've got a blue-rasp-black-straw mix i think would taste great in this kind of thing. and scoops of blueberry and strawberry ice cream, yumm.

looking forward to seeing that summer reading list, maam.

Posted by: mmmm | May 30, 2006 10:09 PM

Hi Kim!

About edible flowers from your chat yesterday (which I couldn't join), I've used nasturtium blossoms in salads and especially in pasta. for the pasta, I made big sheets of it (through an Atlas roller) and sandwiched the blossoms between folds on the last three passes through the rollers. the blossoms were squished and flattened out into long, red and yellow streaks - very pretty actually. then I used the pasta for things from ravioli to lasagna.

of course, don't forget pansy flowers, also edible and magnificent as garnish - had these on my wedding cake! and, one final word, edible flowers are great to have around if you have a toddler on hand...makes me much less nervous about being out on our porch exploring the beautiful blooms.

Posted by: erin e | May 31, 2006 8:40 AM

One addition to Kim's nirvana-inducing, radio host-approved blueberry buckle recipe. It should read:

"Serves about 6 buckle fiends -- or ONE Sam Litzinger."

Could someone pass me the ice cream?

Sam Litzinger

Posted by: Sam Litzinger | June 9, 2006 5:33 PM

hi kim - my mom has a fantastic recipe for something she calls blueberry buckle - it's very similar to yours, but with the added deliciousness of lemon. love the lemon-blueberry combinations. it's very easy - and only takes about 10 minutes to whiz up in the food processor. here's the recipe:

Blueberry Buckle
2 c. blueberries
1 t. lemon juice
1/3 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, chilled cut in 4 pieces
3/4 c. sugar
1 egg
4 1" square pieces lemon rind, no pith

Preheat oven to 350.

Stir lemon juice into milk and set aside.
In food processor wiith knife blade in bowl add butter, sugar, egg and lemon rind. Process to chop rind and mix ingredients. Pour milk mixture through food chute with the processor running. Turn off.

1 1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

Add flour, baking powder and salt. Pulse quickly 3 or 4 times. Do not overprocess. Add blueberries by hand and mix gently. Spread batter in greated 8" square baking pan. Bake 40 to 45 min. or until cake tests done.

2T. soft butter
1/4 c. sugar
2T. lemon juice

Just before cake is done combine butter, sugar and lemon juice. Cook over low hear until smooth. (Mom does this in the microwave) When cake is done, spread glaze over. Return to over. Broil until glaze bubbles. Watch to avoid overbrowing.

**I used the entire zest of the lemon. Can never have enough lemon zest.

Posted by: alexia | June 12, 2006 12:34 PM

re frozen blueberries in a buckle--sure you can use them, but toss the berries in a tablespoon or so of flour to coat and avoid purple batter. If your berries are too icy though this may not work.

Posted by: peggy | June 12, 2006 1:15 PM

Hey there, I just "veganized" this recipe and it came out just amazing. My tastebuds are literally in heaven.

Only changes I made: subbed in whole wheat flour for flour, used Succonat instead of sugar, used egg replacer powder instead of eggs and used soy milk instead of milk. The only adjustment I had to make was 1/2 cup of soymilk to get the right, pankake mix consistency to the cake dough.

Used blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. The entire thing may be gone by the end of the night.

Posted by: Liz | June 19, 2006 5:22 PM

"tastebuds literally in heaven"?

Liz, either you have met a tragic buckle-induced demise or Gene would be annoyed with you.

But the vegan version sounds great. But what did you do about the butter?

Posted by: word cop | July 11, 2006 1:12 PM

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