Growing up in South Jersey, blueberries were as much a part of summer as swimming, catching fireflies and eating watermelon. My mom would buy them by the "flat" (12 pints) and then freeze a good portion of them so we could have treats such as blueberry pancakes year round. But, my favorite summer dessert from childhood was "blueberry buckle," a recipe my mom got from her mom and we all devoured, sometimes plain, sometimes topped with whipped cream or a luxurious scoop of vanilla ice cream.
According to the "Good Housekeeping Great Home Cooking: 300 Traditional Recipes" cookbook by Susan Westmoreland and Beth Allen, a buckle is a rich one-layer cake made with fresh fruit (often blueberries) and sprinkled with a streusel topping before baking.
Carroll Pellegrinelli expands the definition in a neat article about the differences between fruited desserts - "The Betty, Buckle, Grunt, Pandowdy, Slump, Cobbler and the Other 3 Cs" - explaining that buckles can be made in one
of two ways. The cake batter is either spread on the bottom of the pan and the fruit layered on top, or the berries are simply stirred into the batter. But no matter how the fruit is incorporated, the cake is always topped with a cinnamon-sugary crumble mixture (my favorite part!).
The dessert's name comes from the fact that as the cake bakes, it rises, puffs up and then "buckles," creating a
luscious golden cake with juicy blueberries bursting through the crispy topping. Unlike slumps, pandowdies and crisps, buckles did not commonly appear until around the mid-20th century. The most well-known mention of a buckle appears in Elsie Masterton's 1959 Blueberry Hill Cookbook.
I made some today for my daughter's Girl Scout Camp Dinner tonight. The camp's theme this year is the four seasons, so we all choose various seasonal fare to contribute ... to me, this cake screams "summer" like no other.
Here is the recipe - it is so easy and delicious, enjoy!
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 c. butter
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups blueberries
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x9 square pan.
- Mix sugar, butter and egg thoroughly. Stir in milk.
- Blend dry ingredients together; stir into wet ingredients.
- Carefully mix in 2 cups of well-drained blueberries.
- Spread batter in the pan.
- With a pastry blender mix together 1/2 c. sugar, 1/3 c. flour,
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and 1/4 c. soft butter and sprinkle on top.
- Bake 45 - 50 min.
- (Best served warm topped with vanilla ice cream!)