This week, on AltDaily Food (my rocking Facebook page for the food section at AltDaily), I posed the question of what people like to make with fresh berries. I got smoothies, cocktail recipes, and more than one person suggesting fresh berries with yogurt and granola. That’s understandable – berries, granola, and yogurt is the breakfast of champions. It’s the combination that has made yogurt edible to me (it’s a texture thing).
But when, for the second week in a row, I got blueberries as part of my CSA from Five Points Farm Market, I knew the time had come around again for my go-to fresh berry recipe: Blueberry Buckle.
There’s nothing particularly fancy or dignified about Blueberry Buckle. There’s nothing healthy, either, aside from the pint of fresh blueberries. But this dish is comfort in a casserole dish. It’s an easy variation on a coffee cake that is sweet, tart, and surprisingly light.
Also, I just love the name. Blueberry Buckle. It reminds me of Apple Brown Betty. The name is old-fashioned, and it makes me think of big silver buckles on Pilgrim shoes. And when I think of Pilgrims, I think of New England, and autumn, and Thanksgiving, which leads me to food.
Autumn is my favorite season for eating. You have Halloween, when, if you’re like me, you eat way too much candy corn. Then there’s Thanksgiving, which introduces an array of comfort foods: casseroles, pies, my mom’s sausage stuffing. And then Christmas – cookies, cakes, mulled wine! Cider! Did I mention cookies?
So when I made the blueberry buckle this week, I knew I was attempting to usher in the fall. I try to do this at the end of every summer. My stepdad jokes that on September 1st, I start wearing sweaters and flannel pajamas, no matter what the temperature outside. But to an extent, it’s true. At some point, I stop wearing shorts and switch back to jeans, as if I could make the seasons change with my wardrobe choices. Because at that point, I’m tired of the heat. I want crisp days, cool wind, the changing of leaves. I want to sit outside without sweating, I want to bundle up against the cooler temperatures. I want the smell of fires burning. And I convince myself every year that I can trick the weather into changing by wearing jeans even when it’s too hot to do so.
It’s the same with the blueberry buckle. It’s not a particularly autumnal dish, though cinnamon is one of the ingredients. There’s no pumpkin or nutmeg – just a lovely cake base, then fresh blueberries, then a strudel topping. But it’s the feeling I get from it that makes me think, maybe, the more I eat, the quicker fall will come. The quicker my jeans and sweaters will make sense.
I do sometimes take time to wonder what my obsession is with fall. I’ve said in previous posts that, for me, it’s the beginning of the year (because I still operate on the academic calendar). Even as the plants and flowers around me are dying off for the winter, I feel a sense of renewal, of possibility. This should probably come with spring, but what can I say? The smell of rotting leaves and the onslaught of colder weather just makes me get out of bed in the morning and say, yes, anything is possible.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 cups (1 pint) fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1. Grease bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of a 9×9 or 8×8 inch baking dish. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, beat shortening with electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add 3/4 cup sugar. Beat on medium to high speed until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat well. Alternately add flour mixture and milk to beaten egg mixture, beating until smooth after each addition.
3. Spoon batter (it will be thick and sort of heavy) into prepared pan. Sprinkle with blueberries. In another bowl, combine the 1/2 cup flour, the 1/2 cup sugar, and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender (or two knives), cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; sprinkle over blueberries. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.
(Recipe from New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, 12th Edition.)