High Altitude Baking: Raspberry-Blueberry Buckle
High Country Baking
High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Here’s a great example of classic American heartland cooking … but, you’re right, its name is anything but appealing. Why did our great-great grandmothers call a pretty pastry featuring sweet berries cradled by a moist, tender vanilla cake a buckle? I can only guess it’s because the berries sink below the cake batter while baking, making the top look irregular … almost buckled. Yes, there were so many better choices, but the name is what it is. So, all we can do now is forgive them for their lack of imagination and enjoy this delicious, wholesome and easy-to-make dessert.
Stick with fresh berries when making this recipe; frozen ones add more liquid to the cake, making it almost soggy. I wanted a subtle citrus flavor, so added two teaspoons of orange juice concentrate to the batter. If you prefer a more pronounced one, add an additional teaspoon, or even more.
The buckle, served warm, calls out for a cool, creamy accompaniment. Ice cream or sweetened whipped cream are the traditional favorites but if you want to try something a little different, consider the Greek yogurt whipped cream (recipe below); I like it a lot; it’s as smooth and velvety as regular sweetened whipped cream with an added tang that’s a nice contrast to sweet desserts.
Make in an 8 inch springform pan with 2 ½-3 inch sides
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon bleached all-purpose flour, spoon and level
Scant ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s plus another tablespoon for sprinkling over the top.
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2-3 teaspoons frozen orange juice concentrate, partially thawed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1- 1 ½ cups of a mixture of blueberries and raspberries
Commercial or home-made vanilla ice cream
Sweetened whipped Cream
Greek yogurt whipped cream
½ cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
2-4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼-½ cup plain Greek yogurt (nonfat is fine), chilled
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Grease the pan with a baking spray that contains flour. Wash, stem, pick through, and dry the berries. Set them aside.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine them well. Set this aside. Beat the room-temperature butter with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until it is light and creamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar, vanilla and orange juice concentrate and beat until the combination is fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the top of the batter and gently stir only until it’s absorbed. Don’t overwork the batter once the flour is added or the cake will be tough.
3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, level and smooth it. Sprinkle the berries evenly over it and gently push them into it so about half of each berry is beneath the batter. Dust the top with a tablespoon of granulated sugar. Bake until the top is golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, (35-40 minutes).
4. Remove the buckle from the oven and serve it warm or cool it completely on a rack in the pan. It is easiest to remove from the pan and cut when cool. To remove the buckle from the pan, run a knife around the pan sides, pressing against the pan, not the buckle, and gently detach the pan sides. If you cool the buckle before serving it, cut it into pieces and reheat them in a microwave at a high setting or in a 325-degree oven until warm to the touch. Serve with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or Greek yogurt whipped cream. Store, covered, in the fridge.
5. Optional: to make Greek yogurt whipped cream: You must use a Greek yogurt that contains only milk and active cultures, no gum, gelatin, or pectin (I use Fage). Chill the beaters for your electric mixer and a mixing bowl in the freezer for a least 15 minutes (having them very cold causes cream to whip more quickly). Add the cold heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar (to taste), and vanilla to the cold bowl and beat with the cold beaters at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold/stir in ¼ cup cold yogurt and add more, a little at a time, until the mixture is a consistency to your liking and holds soft peaks. Refrigerate for up to three hours before serving. If needed, whisk it a little just before serving.
Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbooks Baking Above It All and Cookies in the Clouds, (available at The Bookworm in Edwards and Next Page Bookstore in Frisco), is a high-altitude baking teacher. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at email@example.com.
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