Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blueberry Buckle

Is it me or has fruit been extra good this year?  I swear, for whatever reason, this summer I just can’t get enough.  My 100% made-up unscientific theory is that everything has been super juicy and delicious due to all the rain in the area.  It’s not too much so that the fruit is supersaturated, but it’s not too little to produce small tasteless fruit….it’s been juuussst right.  Seriously, I should have documented how much I’ve spent on watermelon, strawberries and blueberries alone.  Not to mention all the plums, nectarines and pineapple.  It’s all made for some damn fine fruit salads for lunch throughout the work week.  I’ll be sad when the season comes to an end, which is pretty much any day now.  I can only hope the winter citrus will be good enough to tide me over until next summer.

Since I couldn’t even go a week without it, I bought a bunch of berries at a store on the way to visit my parents in Cape Cod.  The strawberries turned into the scones I wrote about recently and the blueberries – well here’s what happened to them…

I found this recipe for a blueberry buckle – it called for 4 cups of blueberries – yowza!  Usually recipes use 1.5-2 cups of fruit, so I was excited to try this one and see how it turned out.  Basically there is just enough batter to hold everything together, which works for me.  Makes it more appropriate to eat cake for breakfast this way!  

Unbeknownst to me, making this for my parents yielded a story I’d never heard (nor had my mom, even after 47 years!) from my dad about the first time he ever had, and fell in love with, blueberry cake.  A cute story about childhood antics while working a blueberry stand…long story short, a load of berries ended up on the ground and therefore couldn’t be sold, so his mom cleaned them up and made a cake.  This is one of the reasons I love food, not only does it bring people together, but it also invokes heartfelt memories.  Someday I’ll pass that story on to the next generation of my family.

This cake is easy to prepare and really tasty.  The three of us downed half of it straight away.  With some scrambled eggs, it made for a delicious breakfast.  Make it before all the local blueberries disappear for the year!

½ cup AP flour
½ cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg (my addition)
¼ cup unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces

1 ½ cups AP flour (I used ¾ cup AP/¾ cup whole wheat)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
⅔ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp grated lemon zest
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs at room temperature (removing from fridge when you start assembling everything is fine)
4 cups fresh blueberries

With an electric mixer in a small bowl, combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, and salt on low speed until well combined, about 45 seconds.  Add the butter and continue to mix on low speed until the mixture resembles wet sand and no large butter pieces remain, about 2½ minutes.  Set aside.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a round 9-inch cake pan (I used an 8x8 square), line the bottom of the pan with parchment, grease the parchment, then flour the inside of the pan (If you plan to serve this from the pan, you can just grease the pan itself liberally).
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; set aside.  Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, salt and lemon zest at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the vanilla and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium, then add eggs one at a time; beat for 5 to 10 seconds, then scrape down bowl and continue to beat until fully incorporated (mixture may appear broken/clumpy).  Reduce the mixer speed to low then gradually add the flour mixture and beat until the flour is almost fully incorporated, about 20 seconds.  Use a rubber scraper to finish mixing until no flour pockets remain (the batter will be thick).  Using the rubber scraper, gently fold blueberries into the batter until evenly distributed.
Transfer batter to prepared pan; gently spread the batter evenly to the pan edges and smooth the surface. Squeeze a handful of the streusel in your hand to form a large cohesive clump, then break up the clump with your fingers and sprinkle evenly over batter. Repeat with remaining streusel.
Bake until the top is deep golden brown and a thin knife inserted into center of the cake comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. Place on a wire rack for 20 minutes (the cake will fall slightly as it cools).
If removing from the baking pan, run a thin knife around the sides of cake.  Invert the cake, then peel off the parchment from the bottom and discard. Turn the cake right-side-up onto a cooling rack or serving dish. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.
Recipe adapted from, originally adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.