Buckle: The Fruity Dessert That Requires Less Work Than Cobbler

Though a buckle cake may, upon first glance, look like coffee cake or crumble, there are slight deviations to this old-fashioned recipe. The sweet treat is made with fruit — usually blueberries — to yield a delicious pastry that can be enjoyed alongside a hot cup of morning coffee or as a pick-me-up at the end of a long day. 

With a spongy, moist texture and a crumbly topping that could easily be mistaken for streusel, buttery buckle cakes can be enjoyed warm and fresh right out of the oven or at room temperature. The cake is often served with toppings like whipped cream, powdered sugar, and extra fruit. If that sounds appealing you'll want to know the best part: Buckle cake recipes are nearly fool-proof. Unlike other baked goods, if the top of this cake "buckles" and caves inward, your dessert isn't doomed; instead, you know you've prepared the treat correctly.

History of buckle cake

Early American settlers had to do what they could with whatever ingredients they could find when it came to culinary undertakings. And while the comforts of home like British puddings and pies couldn't be replicated in the unfamiliar land, the immigrants found ways to create equally satisfying dishes out of basics like local fruits, butter, sugar, and flour. When buckle cake was first created, it wasn't limited to a breakfast dish or an after-dinner treat; buckle cake commonly appeared as the main course itself or as an appetizer. 

But why is it called buckle cake? The topping placed on top of the batter before it is placed into the oven can result in noticeable indentations — a literal buckling of the cake as the batter warms and bakes. While some bakers carefully set fruit in patterns that will result in attractive and intentional designs, others simply sprinkle fruit on top of the batter and leave the cake's appearance to culinary chance. 

How to make buckle cake

If you're wanting to dip your toes into the world of baking and are intimidated by perfectly frosted layer cakes, buckle cake is ready to greet you with open arms.

In under an hour you can be digging into this delightful treat, which is fairly easy to make and gives some room for error. While fruit cobbler is often prepared with a biscuit or batter topping, the crown for buckle cake is a bit more haphazard. The streusel topping requires only sugar, flour, butter, and salt; the cake itself is a single-layer cake made with flour, baking powder, sugar, butter, milk, egg, and your choice of fruit. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are commonly used, but just like those early immigrants, you can use whatever fruit that is currently in season. Whether you're using berries or sliced peaches, pieces of fruit can be mixed into the batter itself and sprinkled on top of the cake prior to baking. 

To serve buckle cake, a light dusting of powdered sugar can be the perfect finishing touch or a dollop of your choice of whipped cream or yogurt can complete this easy and satisfying dessert.