All apologies for the limited photo evidence of this cherry and blueberry buckle. Considering it was deemed sufficiently cooled at the precise start of overtime play of the World Cup semifinal between Argentina and the Netherlands, it is an achievement that one was taken at all. Lesson learned yesterday — during stressful plays, cake is appreciated. 

This is an easy cake to appreciate.

Cherry + Blueberry Buckle | Tara O'Brady on seven spoons

Since we're friends, I feel I can be honest. I wasn't sure about this buckle. All cards on the table, I had doubts. The batter seemed meagre. And then it felt dense; too solid to accept the fruit I attempted to press into its buttery thickness. It had to be scraped into the pan, and then its resistant clumps pushed into place. 

That said, the topping was really nice. It felt like wet sand between my fingers, the kind perfect for castle building. 

Baking, the cake smelled really nice, as well. I'd swapped out nutmeg for ginger and cardamom to go with the cinnamon, and the combination was intoxicatingly fragrant, weighty but without the nose-tickling warmth of wintry sweets. 

I usually know I'm on to something good when one of the boys stops what he is doing to ask what's in the oven. In this case, both did. 

I kept a suspicious eye on the cake's progress, and felt a nervous relief when it looked to rise exceptionally well. The top was browned and rubbled, shot through by valleys filled with deep purple juice. 

When the cake was cut, it lived up to its name and folded under the knife as the blade slid through. Inside, those rivulets of juice led to puddled, cooked fruit, mottling the cake's crumb. It was damp and soft, and I worried if it is was overly much so, that the heat had done little to dispel the stickiness.

Since we're friends, I feel I can also admit when I was wrong. Because, was I ever. 

The cake is damp. It is soft. It is held together by its crust, and once it's broken, all bets are off. It is not one to cut neatly. Yet, it is staggeringly sublime as is, eaten out of hand in unstable chunks, or with a spoon and a mound of crème fraîche or a lick of cream or custard. It is a buttery muffin-meets-cobbler-meets-coffeecake kind of thing. It is custardy where cake meets fruit, and crunchy where there is streusel, which is to say, a buckle for cheering. And I can't wait to try it with raspberries. Or nectarines. Or both.

Happy Friday's eve.

 

CHERRY + BLUEBERRY BUCKLE

From Salt Water Farm via Bon Appétit, with changes. Rewritten in my words and with weight measures.  

FOR THE TOPPING

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (32 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, cold and diced

FOR THE CAKE

  • 1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups (191 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or seeds scraped from a vanilla bean
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
  • 10 ounces (283 g) pitted cherries, I used a mix of tart and sweet
  • 6 ounces (170 g)  blueberries, fresh or defrosted

METHOD
Start with the topping. Whisk sugar, flour, and spices in a medium bowl. Tumble in the butter cubes and rub between your fingers until the mixture is evenly damp and coming together in clumps. Set aside.

For the cake, preheat an oven to 350°F / 175°C. Grease an 8-inch springform or removable bottom pan. Line the base of the pan with parchment, then grease the parchment. Dust the pan with flour, and tap out the excess.

Whisk the 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. 

In another medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, around 5 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat to combine, 2 minutes. Turn the speed down to low and gradually add the dry ingredients, stirring until mostly incorporated. Pour in the cream and stir until smooth. With a spatula, fold in the cherries and blueberries.The batter will be quite thick, and may not fold easily; as long as the fruit is somewhat stuck into the batter, all will be fine. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. Place tin on a rimmed baking sheet, then sprinkle the topping over the batter in an even layer. 

Bake in the hot oven until the buckle is golden brown and a cake tester poked into the centre comes out clean, 75-90 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let the cool completely. Unmold and serve, as is, or dusted with icing sugar, and maybe a spoon or two of custard. 

Note: I think this buckle would be ideal baked in individual portions, thus dispensing of any fuss of slicing. I've not tried that route, but wanted to have the notion on record.

 

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Authortara
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I am passionate about a lot of things. Food, fashion, family and film are all consuming pleasures of mine. But there is something I'm equally fanatical about which might seem somewhat unexpected. I love words.

Language, jargon, definitions - I find all of these simply fascinating, and have for as long as I can remember. Back in school, in Linguistics and Latin classes, lectures on morphology and derivatives were red letter days on the calendar.

Yes, I know. I'm a geek.

But I cannot help myself. I adore nuanced meanings, the way that one right word can say so much more than paragraphs and paragraphs of the wrong ones. A well-chosen phrase can be a study in succinct economy or art itself.

Mellifluous is as poetic as its definition. While lush is lovely, verdant is all the more exuberant in its profusion.

Lately though, one word has been (excuse the pun) on our lips most often - surfeit. With the local trees and fields heavy with fruit, the early summer harvests of berries, currants, sweet peas and cherries are gracing our table. Truly nothing less than luxuriant abundance, we're most often seen feasting on this bounty of beautiful produce out of hand.

However, when recently bestowed with not one, not two, but three baskets of garnet-hued cherries, I felt the little jewels deserved a bed of buttery cake to fully appreciate their depth and colour. Sweet and plump, the gorgeous orbs almost melt, turning luscious and silky while staining the almond-rich batter with their juices.

One taste, and even words aren't necessary - just enjoy.

Almond butter cake with cherries

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar, plus extra for preparing the pan
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup ground almonds
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and split in half
1/3 cup flaked almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons Demerara sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Generously butter a 10" springform pan, and set aside (see note).

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or with a hand beater, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, vanilla extract and lemon zest.

In another bowl, sift together the almonds, flour, baking powder and salt.

Add half the flour to the butter mixture, beating until blended. Add the sour cream mixture, beating again and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Finish with the remaining flour and stir until just combined.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Sprinkle over the cut cherries, the almonds and the Demerara sugar (if using). Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until lightly golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

Notes:

• For the photograph, I used two 11"x8"x1" removable bottom tart pans. The cakes took about 30 minutes to bake.
• Alternatively, lightly toast the almonds in a dry pan before topping the tart.
• Other fruits, plums and apricots for example, can be substituted.