Almost everyone has tried crisps and cobblers, but fewer are familiar with the buckle. This is an unfortunate situation that should really be remedied. A buckle is essentially a fruit-laden cake topped with streusel, and it's as yummy as it sounds. This version is inspired by ingredients from the Portland farmer's market. Occasionally on Saturdays my husband and I head to the market for a biscuit sandwich from Pine State and a gibassier from Pearl Bakery. We then meander around the stands and pick out the fresh fruits and vegetables that appeal to us. The bounty from our last visit included some roasted hazelnuts and a half-flat of mixed berries. I decided to incorporate both ingredients into a fruit buckle. I used the buckle recipes from the Joy of Cooking as my starting point. I added hazelnuts to the streusel and swapped buttermilk for regular milk. I thought the hazelnuts would add a delicious layer of flavor and the buttermilk would impart richness to the cake. It took a little tinkering, but the end result was exactly what I'd hoped for. I made several versions with different combinations of berries, and really liked the combination of blackberries & blueberries. It is impossible to chose which is best, so I'd urge you to use the berries that look tastiest at the market. —hardlikearmour
Test Kitchen Notes
As a fourth-generation Oregonian, the title of this recipe alone made me want to test it, if only to see if it does indeed capture the essence of Oregon's epicurean abundance. This buckle completely lives up to its name. The buttery mellow taste of the hazelnuts in the streusel complemented the delightful juiciness of the berries and the moistness of the cake. The cake provided a hint of structure but was not an intrusion on the buttery, nutty, fruity goodness that was the essence of this recipe. I used blueberries because I had them on hand, but I am already looking forward to trying this delicious buckle with any number of berries and combinations thereof. —lmikkel
8 to 10
packed brown sugar
freshly ground nutmeg
cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices
Berry Buckle Batter
1 3/4 cups
2 1/2 teaspoons
large egg, cold
buttermilk, room temperature
level to slightly less than level pints of berries (translation: it's okay to snack on a few!) Use any kind you like: blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, huckleberries, marionberries, raspberries, etc.
Pulse hazelnuts in food processor until no large pieces remain. This should take about 8 to 10 long pulses.
Add the brown sugar, flour, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Pulse several times to combine.
Add the butter, and pulse until everything is incorporated and the mixture looks damp and clumpy, about 8 to 10 pulses. Set aside until ready to sprinkle on the buckle.
Berry Buckle Batter
Preheat oven to 350º F with a rack in the lower middle position. Butter and flour a 2-inch deep, 9-inch square, 10-inch round, or 11- by 7-inch rectangular pan. Set aside.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until well mixed, about 15 seconds.
Place butter in a glass bowl or 4-cup glass measure. Microwave for 25 to 35 seconds, until about half melted. Add the sugar, egg, and vanilla to the bowl, then whisk until combined; the mixture should look slightly fluffy. Gradually beat in the buttermilk (if the buttermilk is too cold, the mixture will look a bit curdled, but don't worry. It'll still make a delicious buckle).
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir just until the batter is smooth. Gently fold in the berries (some of them will break and discolor the batter, but it will come out fine in the end).
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, spreading it evenly. Sprinkle with the streusel topping in an even layer. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes (depending on your pan and oven). The top will be golden brown, and a toothpick inserted near the center won't have any batter clinging to it (though it may have berry juice or streusel on it).
Let cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature. No one will complain if you add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream, but it's also good enough to eat plain.
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.