I had lots of ambitious notions about a blueberry dessert I’d make tomorrow, on the 4th of July. I’ll be hanging out with friends who are wonderful cooks and hosts, and I wanted to bring them a dessert that would be seasonal and nice for sharing. In the end I settled on a slab pie, undeterred by the notion of rolling out all that pastry.
Sometimes life interferes with cooking plans, and after a few days of not feeling great–a combination of being a little run down and having low spirits–I decided to take it easy, pivot, and come up with a slightly less involved dessert idea. This is something I’ve learned to do recently: after years of pushing myself to stick to my plans no matter what, I’m learning how to be flexible and come up with a backup plan when my body is asking for rest or TLC. And it’s all good, really, because the simpler dessert idea I came up with is this delicious vegan blueberry buckle.
I picked up a copy of Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson’s Rustic Fruit Desserts earlier this year, as my baking hobby started to blossom. It’s a wonderful book, full of seasonal recipes, clear guidance, and great reverence for iconic American fruit desserts. It’s not vegan, but with a little imagination, many of of the recipes can be veganized, and along the way you’ll learn all about the distinctions between crisps, cobblers, crumbles, slumps, grunts, buckles, and brown betties.
Schreiber describes a buckle as “cake batter poured in a single layer, with berries added to the batter…once baked, the cake has a ‘buckled’ appearance. Think of a buckle as halfway between a cake and a fruit crisp. Buckles are great for breakfast!”
Schreiber has a bunch of buckle recipes in the book, and I used his expert guidance as I whipped up this my vegan blueberry buckle. Buckles are typically topped with some sort of streusel, or crumb, which means that they bear resemblance not only to cake and crisp, but also to streusel cakes. They’re the best of many baked good worlds, and they’re so easy to make.
Vegan Blueberry Buckle
For the crumble topping:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour*
- 1/3 cup light brown or granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons vegan butter cold and cut into pieces, or solid (cold) coconut oil
For the buckle:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour*
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 3/4 cup non-dairy milk
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/3 cup neutral-tasting vegetable oil such as grapeseed, canola, or safflower
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups 10 ounces blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease and flour an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 inch square baking pan.
- To make the crumble topping, mix the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Add the butter. Use a pastry cutter or your hands to incorporate the butter into the flour, until the butter is the size of peas. Place the topping in the fridge while you make the cake.
- To make the cake, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and vinegar. Stir in the oil and vanilla. Add these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until they’re just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Distribute the blueberries on top of the batter, then sprinkle the crumble topping over the blueberries. Transfer to the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is golden and the crumble topping is browning. Allow the cake to cool for at least 1 hour in the pan before cutting and serving.
Blueberries are ideal for buckles, Schreiber notes, because they sink in the batter while also holding their shape. Still, I think you could adapt this recipe to use pretty much any berry, or chopped stone fruits. I may even try it with pear or apple in the fall. It’s difficult to mess the recipe up, especially since a rustic and uneven surface is point.
You can make the buckle at the last moment and serve it warm, or you can make it a day in advance, cover it, and store it in a cool and dry spot. Serve it with a big scoop of creamy vegan vanilla ice cream, some sweet cashew cream, or extra fresh berries. I haven’t tried it for breakfast yet, but I’m definitely not opposed to that idea 🙂 There will be plenty of opportunity to make pies galore later this summer, but for now, I’m so happy to have this versatile, fruit-filled cake/crisp hybrid on my hands.
Enjoy, and happy 4th of July to you all. Later this week, a new (savory) breakfast recipe that I’m super excited about.