So here’s the thing about old family recipes – you start asking too many questions and you find out the recipes you know and love from childhood are first, not that old, and second, not from any family you know. My mother is known for her Blueberry Buckle. Made with fresh blueberries – it is her go-to brunch/dessert dish for the summer. She makes it so often she could probably make it in her sleep – but no matter where she takes it, the Buckle always garners rave reviews. Growing up, I often glanced at the worn, yellowed recipe card she used and I noticed that the Blueberry Buckle was attributed to Aunt Agatha. Now I come from a fairly large extended family, so I figured the recipe was handed down from a great or great-great aunt I had simply never met. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was back home in Rochester and copying down the Buckle recipe, having found I needed to be able to prepare this dish on my own.
“Now who was Aunt Agatha again,” I asked my mother.
“Honey,” she said with a smile, “you don’t have an Aunt Agatha.” She proceeded to tell me that the recipe had been given to my grandmother by her next-door neighbor, who had picked up the recipe from an Amish woman in Pennsylvania Dutch country. So while the Buckle recipe was used by my mother and grandmother, in my family it only dates from the 1960s. It’s a retro recipe rather than an old family recipe.
Putting aside my slight disappointment at the loss of the fictional Aunt Agatha, I set out to do my mother proud and make a grand blueberry buckle. In essence, a buckle is a coffee cake. The method of putting together the batter is similar to what you would do when making any quick bread or muffin mixture. It’s the topping that sets it apart. Made with melted butter, it sort of melds with the batter while baking. Once baked, this results in the ‘buckling’ of the topping, creating crevices and caverns across the landscape of the cake.
The resulting cake is extremely moist and tender, but it also lets the ripe blueberries be the star of the dish. I suppose you could make a buckle with just about any kind of berry or even stone fruits, like peaches and plums. I (and as far as I know my mother) have only ever made buckles with blueberries – it seems almost sacrilegious to Aunt Agatha to do otherwise. Whoever she may be…
Aunt Agatha’s Blueberry Buckle
For the Cake –
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. milk
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 cups drained blueberries
(note – there is no vanilla in this recipe. You can definitely add it if you prefer the vanilla flavor in your baked goods.)
For the Topping-
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/3 c. melted butter
(note – I added a a bit of freshly ground nutmeg – but as has previously be established, I am a nutmeg addict)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix together sugar, butter and egg. Stir in milk. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add this mixture to the sugar mixture. Blend in blueberries. Spread batter into a well greased and floured square pan (I used a 9×9 pan).
Combine all the ingredients for the topping. Sprinkle the topping onto the batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until golden brown on top.