With this year’s rainy, cool summer there are still baskets of blueberries to be found at Farmer’s Markets. I made this delicious and easy blueberry buckle recipe for a recent book club gathering. I’m not really sure where the term “buckle” originated, but it means a basic coffee cake.
I got the recipe from a colleague at the Monitor, who found it in the Monitor’s archives (Leigh is well-versed in searching our archives, being our research librarian). It was probably a relief to Monitor editors that this recipe was described as a “buckle” instead of a “coffee cake,” since for a long time the word or image of “coffee” was not allowed within the Monitor’s pages due to the addictive nature of caffeine. (Newsroom legend has it that a particular piece of knee-high furniture was referred to as a “beverage table” back in the day. I digress.)
The recipe for this blueberry buckle/coffee cake originated in an Alaskan cookbook but one could also describe it as a New England treat, too, I suppose – especially if you serve it along side some metaphysical discussion. Personally, I can’t hear the word “blueberries” without thinking of the well-loved children’s book “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey (1948), a tale of a plucky youngster who goes off to pick some berries in Maine and encounters a large four-legged beast (I won’t spoil it for you. Go read it). So to me blueberries = New England.
In any case, now that summer has tipped toward fall you won’t mind cranking up the oven to fill the air with the aroma of a freshly baked crumb cake. I’ve lessened the amount of salt from the original recipe. Do as you wish and watch out for bears.
New England pride
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
For the topping:
2 cups fresh blueberries, floured
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9″x9″x2″ baking pan. Cream together 1/2 cup of the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar until fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until blended.
Sift 2 cups flour with the baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with milk. Pour the batter in the prepared pan. Dust the blueberries with flour to prevent them sinking in the batter. Sprinkle the blueberries and lemon juice on top of the batter.
For the topping: Combine sugar, flour, butter, cardamom, and chopped pecans together in a food processor or mixer until crumbly. Sprinkle the nut mixture over the blueberries. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cut into squares and serve warm.
Cooking tip: Freeze any unused blueberries and blend later into a fruit smoothie.