With Labor Day just a few days away, summer comes to an unofficial 'say it isn't so' end. What better way to enjoy the upcoming long weekend than to squeeze in time for a road trip, a long bike ride, a barbecue, sitting out in the backyard soaking in the sun, or if you are lucky enough to live near the ocean, breathing in and listening to the smell and sound of the water. This is definitely not a weekend of doing anything mundane or sitting around doing too much of nothing. There is always enough time to get the most essential of chores done, even if it means a little bit of sleep deprivation.
On Wednesday I couldn't help but notice the changes at the Farmer's market. Tables once dominated primarily by berries have been replaced by tables now filled with concord grapes, apples, pears, plums, and thankfully, still some berries. It won't be long now before there will not be a berry in sight. With that thought in mind I bought a five pound box of Michigan blueberries. Some to use in the making of the rustic Blueberry Buckle and the rest to freeze. Being able to bake with frozen berries as a way of taking the chill off of that first really crisp, chilly fall day, that the first fire in the fireplace kind of day, or on one of those 'if don't have to leave the house don't' kind of days in the winter are why one needs to have berries in the freezer. Already the forecast for the winter in the midwest is higher than average snow accumulations. In hindsight, maybe I should have bought ten pounds of blueberries.
How many desserts or breakfast foods can one make with blueberries without being considered some sort of blueberry savant? Well certainly more than the number of recipes I have posted on the blog this past year (although some of you may have thought 'enough with the blueberries already'). There is something both visually appealing and incredibly addictive about eating and baking with one of the few 'blue' foods found in nature.
When you think of comfort food, think of Blueberry Buckle.Whether you are having guests or are a guest at the home of one of your friends over the long Labor Day weekend, a Blueberry Buckle might just be one of those perfect breakfast foods, desserts or hostess gifts. Dense with blueberries you will find yourself wanting to nosh on any buckle leftovers throughout the course of the day as well as hoping there is at least one piece left to go with with an end of the day cup of coffee. Without being too sweet, it more than satisfies a sweet tooth.
I have found that whenever I take out the butter and eggs needed for a recipe the night before, they not only become room temperature perfect but I feel compelled to make whatever it is I went to bed thinking I was going to make in the morning. Because if there is anything I hate going to waste more than chocolate it is butter and eggs, especially when the eggs are the fresh from the farm ones. With the exception of fresh blueberries the ingredients for the batter are things one usually has in the cupboard or refrigerator. However, if you always have some frozen blueberries in your freezer the buckle would fall into the category of 'there is no excuse for not making'.
In addition to the batter, the buckle has one of those easy to come together streusel toppings. The kind that adds just another layer of flavor and a little bit of crunch. One of the streusel ingredients is brown sugar. I generally prefer to use a mixture of both light and dark brown sugars whenever a recipe calls for brown sugar (a 2 to 1 light to dark brown ratio was used for this streusel topping). If you haven't yet tried using both light and dark brown sugars before, the streusel topping could be a great place to start.
The batter for the buckle is so thick you might think it nearly impossible to stir in 3 1/2 cups of blueberries without crushing or having them bleed into the batter. With some gentle stirring you can turn the perceived impossible to actual possible.
The original Cook's Illustrated recipe called for mixing all 4 cups of the blueberries into the batter, however, sprinkling a reserved 1/2 cup on top of the batter gives the finished buckle a more beautiful baked finish.
The buckle is baked in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
The aroma permeating the air while the buckle is baking will wake up even the heaviest of sleepers. Make sure you have a plan to keep everyone at bay while the buckle cools long enough for it to be successfully removed from the springform pan. The buckle can be served warm although its' deliciousness does not diminish at all when served at room temperature.
For a change of pace from lightly sweetened whipped cream, consider making a whipped coconut cream. Both are easy to make and you can't go wrong with either of them. I first learned about coconut whipped cream from one of food blogger Lauren Kodiak's postings. However, the best visual and written step by step tutorial on how to make the whipped coconut cream has been posted by blogger Oh She Glows.
If you bring this sinfully good Blueberry Buckle as a hostess gift I can almost guarantee you will be invited back. Unless, of course, you are one of those high maintenance guests where nothing you might bring to the table, both literally and figuratively, would be enough to get you a return invitation.
Blueberry Buckle with Whipped Coconut Cream (Blueberry Buckle recipe an adaption of Cook's Illustrated July/August 2005 recipe; Whipped Coconut Cream as shared by food blogger Lauren Kodiak)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Zest from one lemon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, divided (Note: If using frozen blueberries, baking time may be slightly longer.)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar packed (light brown sugar or a combination of light and dark brown sugars)
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Whipped Coconut Cream
1 13.5 ounce can of full-fat coconut milk
1 Tablespoon pure cane, superfine sugar or confectionary sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Buckle and Streusel
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy.
4. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing each until well blended.
5. Blend in vanilla.
6. With mixer speed on low, slowly add in flour mixture and mix just until fully incorporated.
7. Using a spatula, very gently stir in 3 1/2 cups of the blueberries.
8. Scrape the filling into prepared pan and smooth top with an off-set spatula.
9. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries on top of the batter.
10. For the streusel, begin by stirring together the flour, brown sugar(s), granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, and pinch of nutmeg. Using a pastry cutter, fork or your fingers, blend in butter until the mixture is crumbly and sand-like in texture.
11. Sprinkle streusel over batter and blueberries.
12. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
13. Remove from oven and allow to cool before removing from pan.
14. Serve with whipped coconut cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Note: Once cooled to room temperature, a slice of the blueberry buckle can be warmed in the microwave and served with some whipped coconut cream or slightly sweetened whipped cream if you want that hot out of the oven taste experience. Otherwise enjoy the buckle at room temperature.
Whipped Coconut Cream
1. Place can of coconut cream in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Flip can upside down and open from bottom. Pour out liquid at the top of the can and scoop out remaining hardened 'cream' underneath.
3. Place 'cream' in a chilled bowl on standing mixer and whip with whisk attachment. When smooth, add sugar gradually followed by the vanilla.
4. Whip until fluffy.
5. Serve immediately and/or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.