A long time ago (the late nineties) in a galaxy far, far away (Milwaukee), I used to play a lot of pool. One Pocket was my game, but I also played a lot of Nine Ball. In Nine Ball as long as you hit the lowest numbered ball first, you win on any shot that sinks the 9, so it is quite possible to get lucky. In the slang at least of our particular poolroom, if you were going to shoot a shot that you thought might end up lucking in the 9, you'd say "Buckle Up!", to warn your opponent that their nerves (and wallet) might need seatbelts to survive the next inning.
And I tell you this story why? Because whenever I think of the dessert named "buckle", it always takes me back to the poolhall. But this dessert is no gamble.
Wow, that was a cheesy segue. My apologies.
So what is a buckle? It is a rustic American baked fruit dessert, in the same general family as cobblers, crisps, crumbles, grunts and slumps. (Rustic Americans were nothing if not picturesque in their nomenclature.) You make a quick cake batter, mix it with a raft of fresh fruit, top it with a little streusel and bake. Apparently the name derives from how the streusel top buckles (bends and cracks) in the oven.
I made this buckle with raspberries and blueberries, because they are overflowing out of our farmer's market and refrigerator, but you can do it with any fruit that could live in a pie. Pitted cherries, pears, peaches, apples, heck pineapple if you want to. Like its cousins, buckle seeks out (and destroys) vanilla ice cream, or just a pour of heavy cream.
For the cake batter, you can use cake flour or all purpose flour, but my favorite choice is whole wheat pastry flour. It is low in gluten so the crumb will be tender, and you get a little bonus nutrition but without any overt signs of being "health food".
I think this could easily be my new favorite homey dessert. Buckle Up!
(based generally on a Joy of Cooking recipe)
Vegetarian; not vegan nor gluten-free
For the streusel:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably fresh ground
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt or sea salt
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
- Mix all ingredients except the butter in a small bowl. Add the butter and work it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it looks like coarse cornmeal, just like when making a pie crust. It is fine if there are a few larger bits of butter. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the cake:
- 1.75 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt or sea salt
- 4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1.5 cups fresh raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
- 1.5 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and patted dry
- Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9×9 baking pan.
- Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
- In a mixer, beat the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until fluffy.
- Beat in the milk.
- Gradually add the flour mixture and combine gently until just mixed, like you would for pancake batter.
- Gently fold in the fruit. It will seem too much fruit.
- Pour the batter in the pan, and sprinkle on the streusel top evenly.
- Bake until browned and a toothpick comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
- Let cool for 20 minutes and serve while still warm, with vanilla ice cream, yes.