Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baking with Blueberries: Blueberry Buckle

The SLO farm stand at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market offers succulent, plump blueberries. We eat blueberries by the bushel in our household, sprinkled on pancakes or cereal for breakfast, submerged in yogurt for snacks, and on vanilla ice cream with a sprinkle of chocolate shakings for dessert. Recently I've been inspired by the cookbook Rustic Fruit Desserts to try baking with blueberries. This cookbook by the Portland chef Cory Schreiber and Portland baker Julie Richardson, is full of recipes for all sorts of baked delights that I'd never head of such as buckles, betties, pandowdies, and grunts. Here is a recipe for a blueberry buckle, which is apparently a cake looking for an excuse to be a fruit crisp.

The lemon-flavored cake batter for the buckle was quite simple to prepare, with half the blueberries mixed in and half layered on top.

The crumble involved mixing together butter, sugar and flour, which I did with a pastry knife.

This got layered on top and baked for 50 minutes.

The final step was to drizzle a lemon syrup over the baked buckle when it came out of the oven.  The final cake was delicious with a nice balance of tart blueberries in a lemon scented cake with a crunchy, sugary crust on top.

Lemon Blueberry Buckle

Adapted from "Rustic Fruit Desserts" by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

Crumb topping
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, cubed, at room temperature

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

Lemon syrup
Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)
1/3 cup sugar
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch baking pan.

2. To make the crumb topping, ix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, using a fork, pastry knife, or your fingers to cut in the butter until it is reduced to the size of peas. Loosely cover the bowl, and place it in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.

3. For the cake, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer or cuisanart, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, three-fourths cup sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

5. Stir the flour mixture into the bowl, a third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, until both the flour mixture and buttermilk are evenly incorporated into the batter. Gently fold 1 cup of the blueberries into the batter.

6. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and distribute the remaining blueberries evenly over the top of the batter. Remove the crumb topping from the freezer and sprinkle it over the berries.

7. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and firm on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking.

8. While the cake is baking, make a lemon syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining one-third cup sugar with the lemon juice and whisk until blended. Heat the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a syrupy consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. (The glaze will bubble while cooking and may need to be removed from the heat to check that it is the proper consistency.) Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.

9. Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle the warm glaze over. Cool to room temperature. 

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