I love buckles. They are one of my favorite desserts. They are easy to make and work with a large variety of fruit, so that you can bake them all year around with what is in season. However, I do have a special place in my heart for the buckles that I bake in spring and summer with all of the delicious berries from my local farmer's market.
If you are not familiar with buckles, they are a homey, old-fashioned dessert that is believed to have originated back in Colonial times. It is basically a cake with fruit baked into it and has a streusel top. They are great for dessert but they are also wonderful for brunch since they are very similar to a coffee cake.
Mixed Berry Buckle
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma Fruit Dessert cookbook)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 oz. unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups mixed fresh berries (blueberry, raspberry, blackberry or any combo you like), rinsed
Ground cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling
1. Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350˚ F. Coat a 9-inch round or 8-inch square cake pan with vegetable oil spray. Line the bottom with parchment (baking) paper and coat the paper with more spray.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, applesauce and sugar for about 5 minutes. Because of the applesauce, it will look curdled but it is okay. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and mix well. The batter will be thick.
3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Then poke the berries into the batter. In a small bowl combine ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 tablespooons of sugar, and sprinkle over the top.
4. Bake until the top is golden, the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and a skewer or cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean, 50-60 minutes.
5. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Once cool, run a knife around the edge in case the cooked fruit has stuck to the sides of the pan. Then place a large plate over the pan and invert the cake onto it. Remove the parchment paper, then place your serving plate on top and re-invert the cake onto it. Serve with fresh whipped cream, if desired.
Notes and Variations:
You don’t need to use just mixed berries. You can make this will a lot of different fruits depending on what is in season. I have made this with blueberries (alone), plums, nectarines and pears. I have a friend who has made this with mango.
Get adventurous with adding a little flavor. I sometimes add cinnamon and nutmeg to the batter and not just on top. Also, cardamon is great with pears if you’re making this in the fall. Or add the zest from a lemon or orange.
The original recipe called for 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter. That much fat in a single-layer caked scared me so I have substituted 4oz of unsweetened applesauce for the second stick of butter. But, if you want it full-fat, go ahead and make the change back to the original.