I come from a long line of berry dessert bakers. Grandma Wilma Logsdon grew berries of all kinds in her Western Illinois garden, and Grandma Opal Miller joined us for wild blueberry picking expeditions up north. Until I have a patch of land on which to grow my own blueberries (and raspberries… and apples… and…), I buy my berries at the farmers market. So Saturday as I pondered my blueberry bounty (I…over-purchased), I had one thought: buckle.
The buckle is related to the grunt, which also can be called a slump. That’s right. Cherries inspire clafoutis and jubilee, but the innocent blueberry elicits a grunt. Let me break it down*:
Grunt is made by putting blueberries in the bottom of a pan and resting lightly sweetened biscuit “dumplings” on top to bake.
Cobbler is the lazy cousin of the pie. Just one crust, thank you very much; set on top with as little fuss as possible.
Crisp. Rather than the pie crust of the cobbler, the crisp has a crumbly topping (butter, brown sugar, oats, etc.). I’ve also seen this treatment called a betty.
Blueberry Boy Bait (Hey, I’ve been looking for some of that!). I found this recipe when flipping through Nigella Lawson’s book “How to be a Domestic Goddess”. Her version sounds like a custard, but a recipe from America’s Test Kitchen seems to be a coffee cake. Chicago teenager Renny Powell is credited with originating Blueberry Boy Bait when she won second place for her recipe in the junior division of the 1954 Pillsbury Bake-Off. I wonder if she ever caught that boy.
Then there’s the buckle. Some make their buckle as a grunt (biscuit on top), while others mix their berries into the batter for a more cake-like consistency – perfect for a breakfast treat (are we back in boy bait territory?). But I share the method used by my grandmas, who outweigh anything a cookbook might tell me. Like the grunt and the cobbler, it starts with the berries in the bottom of the pan; then you dump the batter on top. Through the baking process, the berries will rise through the batter, peek through the top and form a luscious sauce at the bottom.
If you’re still confused, don’t worry. Whichever way you go, you end up drunk on berry sweetness and with a slightly blue tongue. It is with blueberry season running full tilt that I bring you Grandma Logsdon’s Blueberry Buckle – and your knees may indeed buckle when you taste it.
Wilma’s Blueberry Buckle
Notes: Like many hand-written recipes, there was a little something lost in translation when I first tried this so I’ve made some adjustments. This recipe was written with options for two different pan sizes (8” and 9” square), but I used an oval dish like this one from Ikea. Grandma’s recipe called for “oleo,” which is another name for margarine. I substituted butter…I don’t think I have to explain why.
4 cups blueberries
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
2/3 cup milk
Pre-heat over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 Celsius or Gas Mark 5).
Mix blueberries with 1/2 cup of the sugar. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, remaining 1/2 cup sugar and baking powder.
Melt butter; mix butter and milk into the dry ingredients.
Turn berries into baking pan.
Pour batter over berries; smooth with spatula to ensure even distribution.
Bake for 30 minutes until top is golden. Let rest and serve warm.
*If you disagree with any of my admittedly loose definitions of the above berry dessert, please direct correspondence to my attorneys Cobbler, Buckle and Grunt (or better yet, post a comment!).